Investment firms call for robust Copenhagen deal

More than 180 of the world's largest investment firms and pension funds yesterday lent their voices to calls for a global deal to combat climate change to be agreed at the forthcoming UN conference in Copenhagen, signing up to a joint statement signalling their support for a robust international treaty built around binding emission targets and increased investment in clean technologies.

The statement, which comes days ahead of a crucial meeting of world leaders in New York intended to revitalise the stalled negotiations to agree a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, is the largest of its kind and has been signed by investors with more than $13 trillion (£7.8tn) in assets under management.

Speaking at the launch of the joint declaration at an event in New York, Peter Dunscombe, Chairman of European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), said that a robust deal capable of delivering deep cuts in carbon emissions would deliver huge benefits to the global investment community.

"To date, investment decision-making has been hampered by weak, disparate and uncertain policies, as well as short time horizons," he explained. "The specific measures we have called for today will provide a much more supportive investment environment, thus enabling long-term private sector investment and liquidity essential to address climate change."

The declaration largely mirrors the position of developing nations currently involved in the Copenhagen process, calling on industrialised countries to agree to emission reduction targets of between 80 and 95 per cent by 2050 with interim targets of 25 to 40 per cent by 2020.

It also calls on developing countries to produce climate change action plans that will deliver quantifiable cuts in carbon emissions in the medium term, and proposes an expansion of the global carbon market, reforms to the UN's carbon ofsetting scheme the Clean Development Mechanism and increased investment in clean technologies and forestry protection.

Thomas P DiNapoli, head of the $116.5bn New York State Common Retirement Fund, said that a robust deal in Copenhagen would help reduce both environmental and investment risks. "We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change," he added. "I am deeply concerned about the investor risks climate change presents, and the human cost of inaction is unthinkable."

Mindy S Lubber, director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which co-ordinated the statement, predicted that an international deal would free up further investment in the already fast expanding clean technology sector. " Investors have a crucial role to play in building a low-carbon, energy-efficient global economy," she said. "But without strong policies that encourage clean technologies and discourage high-polluting technologies, their hands are tied."

The declaration comes amid mounting fears that the long-running talks to agree a successor to Kyoto are faltering in the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting in December. The talks are currently deadlocked, with industrialised and poorer nations divided on how emission cuts should be shared and the US and EU divided on how the new treaty should be structured.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has positioned next week's meeting of world leaders as a last ditch attempt to break the deadlock and reach a compromise position that will allow the talks to proceed.

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