2030 Finance | December 10, 2018

Climate signals blinking red, a test for global leadership at COP24 (updated)

David Bank
ImpactAlpha Editor

David Bank


Updates from COP 24

  • Leaders and laggards.  Maersk, the world’s largest container shipper, pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2050, in the latest sign that industry leaders are attempting to get in front of the climate challenge. “The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonization in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon-neutral fuels and supply chains,” Maersk’s Soren Toft said in a statement. Last year, Maersk’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled almost 35.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent.

We’ll always have Paris, but is that enough to avert climate catastrophe?


Changing climate means growing demand for ‘adaptation finance’


  • As governments wobble, private sector takes the lead on climate action. Journalist Lou del Bello is in Katowice, Poland at COP 24, the global climate talks aimed at implementing the Paris climate accord. She took up ImpactAlpha’s challenge to find reasons for optimism. Her nominee: private capital.

“While pessimism still dominates the political conversation, businesses present at the climate talks are asserting themselves as a much needed, optimistic voice of reason,” del Bello writes.

As evidence, she cites the $200 billion for climate action committed by the World Bank for 2021-2025, double its current commitment, and he European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s €250 million investment framework for Green and Sustainability Bonds. “Big funders who want to scale up decarbonisation are increasingly betting on businesses,” del Bello says.

Investment COP,” a partnership of the UNDP, the World Bank and the consultancy World Climate is offering delegates in Poland a glimpse of investment opportunities to accelerate electric mobility and decarbonize major infrastructure. The goal is to create synergies for businesses to confidently invest in clean technologies, even in countries traditionally considered risky for investors. World Climate’s Jens Nielsen says at least 80% of climate finance has to come from the private sector.

The UNDP’s Jan Kellett said what’s needed are not grants, cut low-interest loans “to take the first risk of costly investments, and in general to pay for investments that countries at this point cannot make themselves.”

Modest increase in global climate spending is no match for climate crises

  • La la la la la. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to the COP “welcoming” the October U.N. report on the impact of a temperature rise of more than 1.5C. They want only to “take note”

Institutional investors managing $32 trillion in assets called out governments to boost their ambitions and drive the low-carbon transition. The “investor agenda” aims to accelerate investment, drive climate-risk and financial reporting, “put a price on carbon” and “phase out fossil fuel subsidies.”

Here come the SDG-finance unicorns

Returns on Investment podcast

Optimism may or may not be self-fulfilling; pessimism surely is. That’s why the pessimism that opens the “COP 24” global climate talks now underway in Katowice, Poland is so alarming.

The Paris climate accord was reached only ree short years ago (at COP 21). This was to be the time for countries to double-down on their goals, not to fail to meet them. Instead, carbon is up, and climate finance is not, or at least not enough.

Will global leaders emerge? Will capital markets shift course? Can a popular mobilization take hold? 

The latest Returns on Investment take stock as the talks get underway. Refresh this link for our continuously updated blog on the signals coming out of this week’s global climate talks in Poland.  

As the climate hangs in the balance, policy momentum, investor sentiment and most of all global leadership will be crucial to sustain the global energy transition.

“What we want to see, and we’re already seeing it, is a split in the establishment,” ImpactAlpha’s David Bank says in the latest Returns on Investment podcast. Oil companies, utilities, banks – in every sector there are leaders and laggards. The question is: Will leaders be rewarded for their leadership, and the laggards punished?

“It’s not clear the leaders will be rewarded,” says Imogen Rose-Smith, an investment fellow with the University of California. “We have to transition to a new form of economy and most of our ways of modeling are backward-looking.”

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