Investment firms controlling £23tn launch campaign to combat climate change

A group of almost 400 of the world’s leading investors, controlling over $30tn (£23tn) in assets, have agreed to work together to back initiatives to combat climate change and help meet the objectives of the Paris agreement.

The group aims to lobby and put pressure on governments around the world to accelerate action to tackle global greenhouse gas emissions.

Investors including the BBC Pensions Trust, Transport for London pensions fund, Aviva, the Environment Agency pension fund, Legal and General, and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust are calling on the companies in their portfolios to reduce their carbon footprint, support clean energy, and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures.

The campaign, announced as part of the Global Action Climate Summit in San Francisco, also aims to put pressure on the US to stick to the terms of the Paris agreement after Donald Trump announced America was pulling out of the accord.

The “draconian” measures of the agreement would cause a “very diminished quality of life” for Americans, the US president said, announcing his decision in June 2017.

The list of organisations who are part of the newly launched “Investor Agenda” includes 279 investors controlling $31tn who had already signed up to the aims of the Climate Action 100+ in agreement with this statement: “We, the institutional investors that are signatories to this statement, are aware of the risks climate change presents to our portfolios and asset values in the short, medium and long term.

“We therefore support the Paris Agreement and the need for the world to transition to a lower carbon economy consistent with a goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

Welcoming the launch, Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “Investors are showing great leadership to promote climate action in multiple fronts. Their efforts to meet the shortfall in the financial resources required to deliver the Paris Agreement goals, and further building on engagement with high-emitting sectors are a valuable contribution.”

She added: “Yet we believe many more opportunities exist. The Investor Agenda offers a clear path to scale-up investor action, which is essential to meet the needs in every region of the world to address climate change. It gives investors multiple opportunities to continue to demonstrate their willingness to become part of the transformation that will lead us to a more cleaner, greener, sustainable future for all.”

The group totalling 392 investors, include a core group of 120 firms who claim to be pursuing new investments in low-carbon and “climate resilient” portfolios and strategies.

This will include “investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, phasing out investments in coal, and integrating climate change into portfolio analysis and decision-making”, a statement from the Investor Agenda said.

This also puts the group in conflict with the Trump administration. The US president, who donned a coal miner’s helmet during his 2016 campaign, has claimed he has “ended the war on beautiful, clean coal”.