Investors with $26 trillion in assets urge G7 leaders to act on climate change

Several huge investment firms, including Germany's Allianz Global Investors, have urged G7 leaders to increase their fight against climate change. The pleas will likely fall on deaf ears in the Trump administration.

Institutional investors boasting some $26 trillion (€22.3 trillion) in assets urged leaders from the Group of Seven nations to double down on their pledge to cut down greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out coal power entirely.

"The global shift to clean energy is under way, but much more needs to be done by governments," the group of 288 investors said in a statement ahead of the upcoming G7 summit in Canada, slated for June 8-9.

Read more: Fire and ice: The untapped fossil fuel that could save or ruin our climate

Signatories included leading investment firms such as Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Investors, DWS, HSBC Global Asset Management, Nomura Asset Management, Australian Super and HESTA.

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Tomorrow Today | 20.04.2018

What if the earth gets two degrees warmer?

Investors warned that pledges agreed on the back of the 2015 Paris climate summit did not go far enough to limit global warming. Governments, they said, needed to phase out coal power and fossil fuel subsidies worldwide to make any tangible progress in the fight against climate change. Coal power continues to account for almost 40 percent of all generated electricity.

Leading nations also needed "put a meaningful price on carbon," investors wrote in their statement, which was delivered to each of the G7 governments and the United Nations.

Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, one of the signatories, said Sunday's statement marked the first time such a broad group of leading investment firms has called for a phase-out of thermal coal used in power generation.

Read more: Banks produce first guidance on climate-related risks

"There is a lot more momentum in the investor community" to put pressure on governments, she told the Reuters news agency.

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Environment | 01.06.2018

What future for coal workers?

Trump's climate policy poses obvious roadblock

However, investors' calls for stricter climate policy risk being ignored by the US. 

President Donald Trump has made clear he favors bolstering the US' fossil fuel industry and has voiced his doubts over the scientific findings on climate change.

Trump also announced a year ago that the US would pull out of the Paris climate accord, citing the supposedly "draconian financial and economic burdens" the agreement imposed on American jobs and the US economy.

Read more: Trump's growing cabinet of climate deniers

Investors sought to counter those claims in Sunday's letter, writing that countries and firms that implement the Paris agreement's climate goals "will see significant economic benefits and attract increased investment."

The US along with Germany and Japan, is also not a member of the "Powering Past Coal" alliance, a group of almost 30 countries founded last year seeking to halt all coal power usage by 2030. G7 nations Canada, Britain, France and Italy are among the alliance's members.


Joao Pereira de Araujo (2015)

Joao Pereira de Araujo stands in front of his home in Rio Branco in Brazil after the river Acre rose to a record high of 18.4 meters in March 2015. Nearly 100,000 residents were affected by the extreme flood. Photographer Gideon Mendel portrays flood victims worldwide to draw attention to their fates. His works are part of the show "Extreme. Environments" at Frankfurt's photo triennial, RAY 2018.


Francisca Chagas dos Santos (2015)

With his project "Drowning World," Mendel has been exploring the personal impact of climate change within a global context since 2007. "In a flooded environment, life is suddenly turned upside down, normalcy no longer exists and people need to adapt," he said. Francisca dos Santos is captured here outside her flooded home in Rio Branco, Brazil, in 2015.


The home of John Jackson (2007)

The South African-born, London-based photojournalist started his "Drowning World" project when he documented widescale flooding in Yorkshire in 2007. "At that time I had small children and two questions occupied me for their sake: In what kind of world do we live; and what will the world look like in the year 2050?" he asked at an exhibition of the series in Zingst, in northern Germany.


The home of Shirley Armitage (1) (2014)

Mendel's images show how water is the great equalizer that makes everyone the same. This photo of a photo found in Shirley Armitage's home in Somerset, England was one of many destroyed by flooding in February 2014. Mendel created another photo series called "Water Marks" that looks at how floodwaters have transformed very personal family photographs.


From the home of Abdul Rashid (2014)

A water-damaged photograph from the home of Abdul Rashid in Kashmir, India, also in 2014. "I am fascinated by the arbitrary but shocking effects that floods have on precious keepsakes," says the photographer.


Florence Abraham (2012)

This is Gideon Mendel's personal favorite: It shows the baker Florence Abraham from Nigeria, who had a bakery with 50 employees and lost everything in the flood of 2012. The show "Extreme. Environments" can be seen until September 9, 2018 in the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt.

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