As Trump retreats, financial markets push for sustainability, climate accountability
Credit: Douglas Fischer

As Trump retreats, financial markets push for sustainability, climate accountability

'If you're not attentive to climate risks, the sustainability of your business is in question.'

NEW YORK—President Trump, speaking before the UN General Assembly Tuesday, vowed globalism is dead. A day later a roomful of suits representing some of the largest pension, mutual and hedge funds in the world offered a very different take.


The globe, they agreed, is moving toward a low-carbon, sustainable economy. Those who haven't factored that shift into their investment strategy are at risk.

Some 300 investors and regulators gathered during Climate Week in New York to talk trends and gain insight about markets at the annual Sustainable Investment Forum. The warning was clear: Mother Nature and the markets are moving forward, even as the Trump Administration retreats and global climate talks appear stalled.

"If you're not attentive to the climate change risks, … the sustainability of your business is in question," said Erik Gosule, managing director at Italy's Amundi Pioneer, Europe's largest asset manager, with $1.7 trillion under management.

Investors are baking a number of "sustainability factors" into their decision-making, financial experts noted repeatedly throughout the day: Fund managers are asking companies about everything from their carbon footprint and exposure to coal to energy transition and whether the company's goals align with the United Nations' goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2º Celsius.

One example: S&P Global, which maintains various Dow Jones indices such as the S&P 500, this week launched a new index that assesses companies' exposure to various climate risks—heatwaves, flooding, sea-level rise—in addition to carbon price and fossil-fuel emissions.

Credit: Douglas Fischer

"We are, as a global community, moving to a low-carbon future," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the chief fiscal officer charged with ensuring that state and local governments use taxpayer money effectively. "It goes to our fiduciary responsibility: We're making decisions for the man or woman who starts work today and is going to be retiring in 25 to 30 years."

And as with so many aspects of climate policy, as the Trump Administration abdicates the country's leadership role, markets and states are stepping in. California is the largest insurance market in the nation, and the fourth or fifth biggest in the world. And the state is using that leverage, said California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

The state is reviewing policies to ensure that, if private and commercial property is lost to a flood or wildfire, it gets rebuilt in a sustainable way, Lara said. And it's working with 10 other states to create a climate risk index.

"The responsibility and pressure being put on the insurance industry isn't just regulators," Lara added. "They're getting it from Main Street. They're getting it from industry. They're getting it on all sides."

That change is happening fast. The cavernous room Wednesday was full of men and women in suits—a sea of black and dark gray—prompting Berit Lindholdt-Lauridsen, director of market practice and regulatory policy for the Swiss-based International Capital Market Assoc., to comment, "I don't think there would've been quite so many suits at this discussion four or five years ago."

Elliot Harris. (Credit: Douglas Fischer)

There was also an air of inevitability. The general gist: Get ready now, because change, when it happens, is going to happen fast and be ugly for the unprepared.

"It's a very complex and evolving landscape," said Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist at the United Nations, who predicted that by 2025, regulatory and market shifts will be "forceful, abrupt and disruptive" in response to climate change.

Department of the Interior

Peter Dykstra: Public disservants

A quartet of Interior Secretaries who gave the rest a bad name.

The U.S. Department of the Interior oversees public lands, national parks and wildlife refuges, and has a major impact on the nation's environmental direction.

Keep reading...Show less
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Is China ready to lead on protecting nature? At the upcoming UN biodiversity conference, it will preside and set the tone.
theconversation.com

Is China ready to lead on protecting nature? At the upcoming UN biodiversity conference, it will preside and set the tone.

China has rich natural resources and is seeking to play a leadership role in global conservation, but its economic goals often take priority over protecting lands and wildlife.
Sidestepping a new climate commitment, FERC greenlights a mammoth LNG project
insideclimatenews.org

Sidestepping a new climate commitment, FERC greenlights a mammoth LNG project

After declaring nine months ago that it would start factoring climate change into regulatory decisions about major gas projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has thrown up its collective hands and concluded that it doesn’t know how. At least not yet. The uncertainty was conveyed last month when the commission’s five members, all presidential appointees, […]
Some 120,000 U.S. oil wells sit abandoned, new research shows

Some 120,000 U.S. oil wells sit abandoned, new research shows

States have identified more abandoned wells after the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provided $4.7 billion to address the problem.

Coal-fired power plant in New Jersey to be imploded for clean power

A former coal-fired power plant in New Jersey will be imploded Friday, and its owners are expected to announce plans for a new clean energy venture on the site.

Congressional Democrats: Not a chance of reopening climate law

The president has been clear about his support for establishing a U.S. manufacturing base for electric vehicles.

EU’s new climate change plan will cause biodiversity loss and deforestation: Analysis

A new climate change plan in the European Union, which has been lauded for its ambitious targets and aggressive action on emissions, will sacrifice carbon-storing trees, threaten biodiversity and outsource deforestation, according to a new paper.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
United Nations climate change

Op-ed: It’s time to re-think the United Nations’ COP climate negotiations

Instead of focusing on negotiations, let the main event be information sharing, financing and partnerships that produce faster technological change.

population environmental

Op-ed: What the media gets wrong about the new world population numbers

The last time that we lived within the productivity limits of our planet was about 50 years ago — that is a problem.

katharine hayhoe

Peter Dykstra: Journalists I’m thankful for

My third annual list of the over-achieving and under-thanked.

sperm count decline shanna swan

A new analysis shows a “crisis” of male reproductive health

Global average sperm count is declining at a quicker pace than previously known, chemical exposure is a suspected culprit.

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

"Pregnant women, and men planning to conceive a pregnancy, have a responsibility to protect the reproductive health of the offspring they are creating."

sperm count decline

Frequently asked questions on the new sperm count decline study

Sperm counts are declining everywhere — the implications are huge.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.