Global investors urge action on climate change

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:52am EST

A woman rides her bicycle past the cooling towers of a coal-burning power station on a hazy day in Beijing October 21, 2008. REUTERS/David Gray

A woman rides her bicycle past the cooling towers of a coal-burning power station on a hazy day in Beijing October 21, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global institutional investors holding more than $6 trillion in assets pushed policymakers Tuesday to quickly hash out a binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean technology.

More than 130 big investors, including London Pensions Fund Authority, want countries to agree to reduce the climate- warming emissions by 50 percent to 80 percent by 2050.

Those numbers are in line with global warming policy favored by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who supports an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by mid-century.

The investors also want policymakers to set long and medium term emission reduction targets for developed countries and to provide for an expanded and more liquid global carbon market.

Already big U.S. investors, such as the California Public Employees' Retirement System, with $185.6 billion of assets under management, have been calling for legislation to promote new and existing clean technologies.

They have also called on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to force publicly traded companies to disclose climate-related risks along with other factors that affect their business.

"As institutional investors, we are concerned with the risks presented by climate change to the global economy and to our diversified portfolios," said Mike Taylor, chief executive of London Pensions Fund Authority. "We are ... urging world leaders to implement strong and effective policies to support us in allocating capital toward low carbon investments."

The group of global investors want countries to sign on to a new binding agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol climate pact, which set binding targets for industrialized countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Union is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and increase the share of wind, solar, hydro, wave power and biofuels in their energy mix by the same date.

The United States is alone among major industrialized countries in rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, but is participating in discussions to craft a follow-up global agreement.

"It is time to put an agreement in place where the United States is involved," said Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups working on climate change issues.

The global group of investors is hoping its voice is heard ahead of a December climate change convention in Poland.

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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