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Seize your chance to fight climate change, U.N. envoy Carney tells investors

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England (BOE) attends a news conference at Bank Of England in London, Britain March 11, 2020. Peter Summers/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Investors have an “enormous” opportunity to finance a shift to a low-carbon future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, United Nations envoy Mark Carney said on Friday, launching a new diplomatic campaign to revive delayed climate change talks.

With November’s major climate summit postponed until 2021 due to the virus, the British hosts are backing a “Race to Zero” initiative to spur investors, cities and companies, as well as countries, into making bolder pledges to cut emissions.

Carney, who took on the U.N. climate finance and diplomacy role after stepping down as Bank of England governor in March, said governments must learn from their failure to use the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis to rapidly decarbonise.

As companies redraw their strategies in the wake of the pandemic, “this creates an enormous strategic opportunity” for investors, Carney told an online event.

“You can’t wish away systemic risks and it’s much cheaper to deal with them upfront and mitigate them,” Carney said, speaking alongside British Business Minister Alok Sharma, who is due to preside over the next climate summit in November, 2021.

With major polluting countries still nowhere near slashing emissions in line with the 2015 Paris climate accord, diplomats are aiming to build momentum by securing commitments from business, finance and regional or municipal authorities.

At the “Race to Zero” launch, officials said almost 1,000 companies, 449 cities, 21 regions, and 38 major investors have pledged to cut their net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 -- a marked increase since the last climate summit in December.

On Friday, a group of 109 investors with 11.9 trillion euros of assets under management wrote to European Union leaders urging them to use the bloc’s stimulus package to speed up its transition to a “climate neutral” economy.

Writing by Matthew Green; Editing by Aurora Ellis