Business leaders and investors speak out in support of a low-carbon economy: Doubling of support among global investors on limiting methane emissions

Business leaders and investors speak out in support of a low-carbon economy: Doubling of support among global investors on limiting methane emissions

Today, on April 22nd 2016, the headquarters of the United Nations in New York will see the signing of the Paris Agreement, agreed after the climate talks in Paris late last year. The ceremony represents a formality in its ratification procedure. The treaty will only enter legal force once at least 55 countries, representing over 55 percent of global emissions, have ratified the agreement. 

But it will be the largest ever signing of an international treaty on climate action, and after weeks of intense activity behind the scenes, business leaders and institutional investors have come out to make clear their support for a low-carbon future. 

In a statement headed ‘Business Backs Low-Carbon USA’, more than 100 companies declare themselves to be “some of the businesses that will help create the future economy of the United States.” “We want this economy to be energy efficient and powered by low carbon energy. We believe there are cost-effective and innovative solutions that can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low carbon economy could put America’s prosperity at risk. But the right action now would create jobs and boost competitiveness,” they state. 

These businesses call on U.S. leaders to support both the swift implementation of the Clean Power plan and investments in the low-carbon economy. 

Varying in size, both private and publicly listed and operating across industry sectors, their ranks include Kellogg (NYSE:K), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Unilever (LON:ULVR), Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) and more. 

A dozen large businesses involved in energy production and use – such as Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Shell, (LON:RDSA),  Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) , Siemens AG (OTCMKTS:SIEGY) and Schneider Electric (EPA:SU) have also endorsed a statement organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions encouraging governments to move expeditiously to formally join the Paris Agreement, and pledging to "work with countries to enact and implement the domestic measures needed to achieve their national contributions." 

There has been an enormous amount of activity behind the scenes ahead of the signing, with social media being used to spread the word using the Twitter #ParisAgreement.

Also in the run-up to today’s signing, leading global investors representing $3.6 trillion in assets under management released a statement of support for U.S. and Canadian efforts to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. This represents more than a doubling of support since July 2015. 

“As widely diversified, long-term investors with holdings in the oil and gas industry, we share a vested interest in the industry’s long-term success,” says a statement coordinated by CalSTRS, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, NEI Investments, Ceres and Trillium Asset Management. “Curbing methane emissions from all sources in the oil and natural gas value-chain will help limit climate change, promote economic growth and provide regulatory clarity for industry and investors.” 

Methane Emissions: What Every Investor Should Know’, was published here on in January. 

The U.S. and Canadian announcement, made on Mar. 10, commits both nations to reduce oil and gas methane pollution by 40 percent to 45 percent over the next decade, and to put forth standards to achieve this goal. 

“Managing methane emissions is a critical part of the challenge of addressing climate change. In keeping with our fiduciary duty, CalSTRS is supportive of the expected EPA regulation reforms for oil and gas operators as they provide an opportunity to mitigate risk, build trust and create long-term shareholder value,” said Jack Ehnes, CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer.

Dina Medland is an independent writer, editor and commentator with a strong focus on issues around corporate governance, ethics, the workings of the boardroom and sustainable business. She is on the team of contributors to @ForbesEurope and is an ex-Financial Times staff member who has been a regular contributor in recent years. Further details about her background and a portfolio of work – including her commercially sponsored blog ‘Board Talk’ are available on her website

Originally published on April 22, 2016