Investors worth $32 trillion: Cut carbon now, or face financial crash

Spanish wind turbines photo
CC BY 2.0 Eric Titcombe

These people know a thing or two about money. And they say it's INACTION that's going to cost us.

"We won't sacrifice the US economy for the sake of the environment," said way too many a political operative on TV a few weeks ago when a series of damning climate reports made clear just how dire our current situation is. OK, I am paraphrasing several different 'experts'—but when they are not arguing that humans have nothing or little to do with climate change, the paid talking heads trotted out to oppose climate action love to argue that mitigation is simply too expensive.

There's only one problem: These people have no idea what they are talking about.

The most recent, compelling counterpoint to the 'environment or economy' fallacy comes via a coalition of gigantic investors who collectively manage $32 trillion in assets. Under the banner of The Investor Agenda, the coalition has issued a powerful rebuke to both law makers and denialists, calling for immediate and ambitious ramping up on climate action—and warning that a failure to seize the initiative could risk a major financial crash. But this isn't just about avoiding calamity, there's opportunity that comes with action too:

The countries and companies that lead in implementing the Paris Agreement and enacting strong climate and low carbon energy policies will see significant economic benefits and attract increased investment that will create jobs in industries of the future. To ensure a smooth and just transition to a low carbon economy and to adapt to the warming already locked in to the climate system, it will be important that the benefits of gaining access to cleaner energy sources are shared by all, and that those workers and communities affected by the transition are supported.

This is not the first time we've heard tell of either the economic downsides of inaction or the financial benefits of greener growth. But the sheer size of the institutions now calling for a scaling up of these efforts, and the political clout that comes with that size, makes this declaration worthy of attention.

Of course, the "business man" in the White House will continue to claim that the status quo is the best path forward, but it's increasingly clear that such views are outdated, old-fashioned and counterproductive. Even coal miners are cottoning on that change is coming, and they don't want to be left behind.

Pretending anything different is doing a disservice, including to folks who have previously prospered thanks to fossil fuels.

Investors worth $32 trillion: Cut carbon now, or face financial crash
These people know a thing or two about money. And they say it's INACTION that's going to cost us.

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