Date
22 October 2018
Coal is used to generate almost 40 percent of electricity worldwide. Photo: Reuters
Coal is used to generate almost 40 percent of electricity worldwide. Photo: Reuters

Big investors urge G7 to step up climate action, shift from coal

Institutional investors with US$26 trillion in assets under management called on Group of Seven leaders to phase out the use of coal in power generation to help limit climate change, despite strong opposition from Washington, Reuters reports.

Government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions were too weak to limit warming as agreed by world leaders at a Paris summit in 2015, they wrote. US President Donald Trump announced a year ago that he was pulling out of the pact.

“The global shift to clean energy is under way, but much more needs to be done by governments,” the group of 288 investors wrote in a statement before the G7 summit in Canada on June 8-9.

Signatories included Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Investors, DWS, HSBC Global Asset Management, Nomura Asset Management, Australian Super, HESTA and some major US pension funds including CalPERS, it said.

As part of action to slow climate change, the investors called on governments to “phase out thermal coal power worldwide by set deadlines”, to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and to “put a meaningful price on carbon”.

The investors also urged governments to strengthen national plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and to ensure that companies improve climate-related financial reporting.

Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGC), said it was the first time that such a broad group of investors had called for a phase-out of thermal coal, used in power generation.

“There is a lot more momentum in the investor community” to put pressure on governments, she told Reuters. The IIGC was among backers of the statement, delivered to G7 governments and to the United Nations.

G7 nations Canada, Britain, France and Italy are members of a “Powering Past Coal” alliance of almost 30 nations set up last year and which seeks to halt use of coal power by 2030. Japan, Germany and the United States are not members.

The investors wrote that countries and companies that implement the Paris climate agreement “will see significant economic benefits and attract increased investment”. US gross domestic product was US$18.6 trillion in 2016, according to World Bank data.

Trump doubts scientific findings that heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels are linked to man-made greenhouse gas emissions and wants to bolster the US fossil fuel industry. Worldwide, coal is now used to generate almost 40 percent of electricity.

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CG

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