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As Trump Pushes Planetary Destruction at COP24, Investors Holding $32 Trillion Demand Bold Climate Action

'The transition to a low carbon economy presents numerous opportunities to create value, and investors who ignore the changing world do so at their own peril'

The Longview Power Plant, a coal-fired plant, stands on August 21, 2018 in Maidsville, West Virginia.

The Longview Power Plant, a coal-fired plant, stands on August 21, 2018 in Maidsville, West Virginia. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As a new report reveals (pdf) that asset management behemoth BlackRock is continuing to finance "the destruction of our planet"—and the Trump administration pushes that path at the United Nations climate talks—hundreds of global investors holding $32 trillion in assets called for world leaders to commit to greater action to address the climate crisis.

"The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society, and the financial system to climate risks," a statement signed by 415 investors declared Monday as the COP24 climate summit was underway.

The signers, including HSBC Global Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller, and Seattle City Employees' Retirement System, warned of the potentially catastrophic "ambition gap" between the Paris climate accord goal of limiting warming to below 2˚ Celsius and what countries have committed to doing.

"Indeed," an accompanying briefing paper adds, "the full implementation of current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would lead to an unacceptably high temperature increase potentially in the range of 2.9 to 3.4 °C relative to pre-industrial levels. This is of great concern for investors, as global warming at that scale would have large and detrimental impacts on global economies, society, and investment portfolios, now and into the future. Policy makers need to close this gap urgently."

The statement coordinated by the Investor Agenda—initially launched in June and now boasting a record number of backers—lays out three main areas for urgent action:

Achieving the Paris climate accord goals including a just transition to a low-carbon economy; speeding up private sector investment into the low-carbon transition, including a meaningful price on carbon and phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and global phase-out of coal; and a commitment to improving climate-related financial reporting.

Notably, the fresh call was made as the Trump administration continued to push coal at the U.N. climate conference—a call met with laughter and chants of "Keep it in the ground" by indigenous and youth climate leaders on Monday.

"Despite the misguided policies of the Trump Administration, global efforts to address the very real threat climate risk presents to the economy, financial markets, and investment returns are ongoing," said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who's responsible for the state's $207 billion public pension fund.

"The transition to a low carbon economy presents numerous opportunities to create value, and investors who ignore the changing world do so at their own peril," added DiNapoli.

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