Global investors managing $32tn issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday – demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning.
Without these the world faces a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 crisis they said.
The investors include some of the world’s biggest pension funds – insurers and asset managers and marks the largest such intervention to date.
They say fossil fuel subsidies must end and substantial taxes on carbon be introduced.
Ministers arrive at the UN climate summit in Katowice Poland on Monday for its crucial second week – when the negotiations on turning the vision of the Paris agreement into reality reach a critical point – with finance for fighting global warming a key area of dispute.
‘The long-term nature of the challenge has in our view met a zombie-like response by many’ said Chris Newton of IFM Investors which manages $80bn and is one of the 415 groups that has signed the Global Investor Statement.’
‘This is a recipe for disaster as the impacts of climate change can be sudden – severe and catastrophic’.
This permanent economic damage would be almost four times the scale of the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis.
Standard and Poor’s rating agency also warned leaders: ‘Climate change has already started to alter the functioning of our world’.
Thomas DiNapoli of the $207bn New York State Common Retirement Fund – another signatory – said taking action on global warming not only avoided damage but could boost jobs and growth.
‘The low-carbon economy presents numerous opportunities and investors who ignore the changing world do so at their own peril’.
Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics said: ‘The low-carbon economy is the growth story of the 21st century and it is inclusive growth.
Without that story we would not have got the 2015 Paris agreement, but the story has grown stronger and stronger and is really compelling now’.