“We need 2018 to be the year of investor leadership on climate change.”
So said Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of sustainability non-profit Ceres, reflecting on the 2018 Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the United Nations on 31 January. At Hermes, we agree. Climate change is – both literally and metaphorically – a slow-burn issue, but the grave risk it poses over time is disconcerting.
Research shows that unless serious action is taken, the global temperature will rise by much more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Last year marked the 41st consecutive year with global temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average, and six of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2010. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) are currently at levels not seen in 800,000 years, and in the 10 years to 2010, worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases increased by 35% to 46bn metric tonnes.
It is therefore impossible to overestimate the importance of the 2015 Paris Agreement: it unites the world in a single deal on tackling climate change for the first time in history, by committing signatory countries to keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2ºC , limiting GHG emissions, and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.