© Reuters. A cameraman sits in front of a screen displaying the COP26 logo during a press conference at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain on November 5, 2021. REUTERS / Phil Noble
By Ross Kerber and Simon Jessop
BOSTON / GLASGOW (Reuters) – A week after the high-profile United Nations climate conference began in Glasgow, executives and financial analysts said they were optimistic the talks will lead to the changes needed for companies play a bigger role in the fight against climate change.
Trade watchers pointed to several steps taken by world leaders that they believe could boost sustainable businesses and invest efforts to raise the vast sums of money needed to wean the world off fossil fuels.
These include a pledge by financial companies with combined assets of $ 130 trillion to focus on climate change, the creation of a global standards body to look at companies’ climate claims and commitments to reduce methane emissions and save forests.
Jefferies (NYSE 🙂 chief executive Aniket Shah said that while many measures lacked specific promises, they have shown that a global consensus is forming to tackle climate change, which will allow private investors and governments make it easier to invest money and effort.
“There is a certain power of signaling intentions that cannot be ruled out here,” Shah said. He highlighted the target set by Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi on November 1 for his country to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2070.
Although two decades later than what scientists say was necessary to avoid catastrophic climate impacts, the commitment was still more than what India had offered in the past and could be accelerated with financial help from developed countries. said Shah.
Peter Lacy, Global Head of Sustainability Services at Accenture, said for investors and businesses the most important milestone of the conference was the creation on November 3 of the International Sustainability Standards Board, intended to create a baseline allowing companies to describe their climate impact.
Lacy called it a seismic moment for business and in line with the hopes of Accenture (NYSE 🙂 CEOs surveyed ahead of the conference.
The new board, said Lacy, “will give investors and stakeholders a much better understanding of the associated risks and opportunities and help guide the allocation of the huge amount of capital needed as the world goes to zero. net, ”he said via email.
LACK OF DETAIL
Critics say many key conference announcements lack detail and give companies leeway. For example, banks, insurers and investors have pledged to work to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, but each entity has made its own net zero commitments “with potential overlap between initiatives, institutions. and assets, “according to the group’s press release.
Leslie Samuelrich, a media outlet for Green Century Capital Management in Boston, which does not invest in fossil fuel stocks, said she was concerned that large investment firms had signed on to announced carbon reduction pledges so quickly. in Glasgow, as their terms might be too easy to meet.
“The speed with which some have adopted it makes me cautious,” Samuelrich said.
But other finance officials say it’s inevitable that companies will strive to cut emissions under pressure from customers and seek profits. Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of UBS Global Wealth Management, said promising areas include renewables, transport and batteries.
Diplomats must now set rules in areas such as building markets to help companies price carbon and how developed countries will help poorer ones.[nL8N2RY0GS]
In a call with reporters on Friday, David Waskow, director of the nonprofit World Resources Institute, said he was more optimistic than a week ago that attendees would make meaningful deals.
“I think the start of the week has actually laid a good foundation. Not to say that everything is rosy,” he said.