UN calls for US$36trn investment in clean tech by 2050

16 Jan 2014

The United Nations has urged investors to accelerate the greening of their portfolios substantially to the tune of US$36trn by 2050 at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York City.

The push for greater clean technology comes as hundreds of financial, corporate and investment leaders with more than US$20trn in combined assets gathered at UN headquarters for a day-long summit to discuss the implications of climate change for capital markets and their portfolios.

Leading the call to funding was Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who told those attending the summit they held the future of billions of people in their hands: “The pensions, life insurances and nest eggs of billions of ordinary people depend on the long-term security and stability of institutional investment funds.

“Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to those investments and the wealth of the global economy.”

Changing the mindset

According to the International Energy Agency, the figure of US$36trn of global investment in clean energy will be required by 2050, by its calculations, to meet the internationally agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2°C.

This means the world needs to invest an average of US$1trn per year in clean energy for the next 36 years.

In her speech, Figueres also went on to rally investors to ask the companies they are invested in to not use shareholder funds to influence policy against climate change: “Those days are over and we need to stand up now and make the necessary shifts in capital to come on board with the new opportunities that we heard this morning that are actually opening up for those capital shifts.”

The summit is co-organised by CERES – a coalition and network of more than 130 pension funds, investors and non-profit organisations, the UN Fund for International Partnerships and the UN Foundation.

It takes place ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, slated for this September and which is anticipated to build momentum for a strong global climate agreement in 2015.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic