Some of the largest institutional investors in the world yesterday called on the US Congress to introduce a mandatory national policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% below 1990 levels by 2050. It is the latest move that underlines the way business leaders have dramatically seized the environmental agenda and are now pushing politicians to tackle global warming. The group of 40 investors, which includes F&C Asset Management in London and controls $1.5tr (£760bn) worth of funds, also wants the financial regulator, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to insist that companies listed in New York and elsewhere disclose their exposure to climate change risk. The investment houses are demanding that equity analysts and ratings agencies calculate the potential carbon costs for companies such as Shell, BP and electricity utilities which are involved in polluting activities such as producing oil from tar sands and operating coal-fired power stations. [cont’d]Okay, so it’s not an election that results in direct action, but in the world of opinion (I hesitate to say “popular opinion” since institutional investors are quite a bit removed from the great unwashed masses), these folks have a tendency of getting their way–usually for the worse, but sometimes, perhaps this time, for the best.
….Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, made clear that the move was partly self-serving. “This action plan reflects the many investment opportunities that exist today to dent global warming pollution, build profits and benefit the global economy. Leveraging the vast energy efficiency opportunities at home and abroad holds especially great promise for investors.”Speaking of investment opportunities, may I suggest trading in emissions permits issued as part of a cap-and-dividend program?