, FTSE Global Markets

Investing in the good earth

After years of being in the margins, climate change is finally having its day on the page thanks mainly to President Barack Obama’s vocal support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) announcement that it would propose limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Climate change industry supporters have been waiting years for the US to take the lead in the climate change management debate and in June their wish was granted; particularly as other high carbon emitters, such as China are now firmly on the emissions capping bandwagon. Has the new found enthusiasm for the wellbeing of the Earth come just in time or too late to really make a difference? If climate change can be delayed or averted, which firms are in the front line to benefit from a more munificent approach to climate change management by G20 governments? Lynn Strongin Dodds reports on the hope and the glory.

Speaking at the University of California, Irvine graduation ceremony, the US president noted, “The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgement of science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, has put that to rest. The question is whether we’re willing to act.”

The answer is still not straightforward. There have been reams of scientific research showing that the planet is definitely getting warmer. The latest is a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which blames human activity as the major contributing factor to an increase in global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). They have grown more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades and it warns that if action is not taken temperatures will jump to dangerous levels. Avoiding this scenario means cutting GHG emissions by 40% to 70% from 2010 levels by mid-century and to virtually nothing by 2100 in order to keep temperature hikes to manageable levels of 2 degree Celsius. At current rates, temperatures are on track to increase by 3.7°C to 4.8°C by 2100.

[...] The investors’ view

James Cameron, non-executive chairman of asset management and advisory firm Climate Change Capital agrees, adding, “One of the biggest challenges is that we have been pretending that climate change is an issue for the future when the evidence over the last 30 years has shown that it is a problem now. There have been many reasons for this science works by disagreement and there is political and economic power vested in the status quo. However, I think now there is a strong resolution to act on the evidence.”

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