Civic leaders and activist investors say the finance sector has a key role to play in a sustainable global recovery plan.
  • Participants in a virtual conference held by the Principles for Responsible Investment and others urged the world to use an estimated $20 trillion in COVID-19 relief funds to fight climate change and create new jobs in an environmentally friendly economy.
  • Civic leaders and activist investors call for a “green recovery” that includes a transition away from fossil fuels.
  • International Energy Agency says the world needs about $13.5 trillion of public and private investments between 2015 and 2030 to meet the Paris climate accord’s goals.

Several trillion dollars in global COVID-19 relief funds should go towards fighting climate change and building a future green economy, participants in a forum sponsored by a United Nations-backed investor group urged Wednesday.

Fiona Reynolds, chief executive officer at the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), called on finance industry leaders to assume a key role in ushering in a sustainable global economy, ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland next year.

“Urgent action is needed to address the scale of the climate emergency we face and the finance sector has a key role to play,” Reynolds said at the online event, which was also sponsored by the London Stock Exchange Group and viewed by more than 1,300 people. “What we do today…will shape the future of our economy.”

Asset managers and pension funds collectively overseeing about $80 trillion in assets have signed on to PRI’s environmental social and governance investment guidelines.

Alok Sharma, the U.K. secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy and president of COP26, said his country is an example of how the world can achieve carbon emission reductions. Since 1990, the U.K. economy has grown 75% while cutting its carbon emissions by 43%. “In the U.K., we have shown that green growth is possible,” he said.

Sharma said the world can deliver a green recovery with a reduction in carbon emission in partnership with the finance community. The International Energy Agency estimates the world needs $13.5 trillion in public and private finance in the energy sector between 2015 and 2030 to meet the targets set out in the Paris climate accord, he said.

Other participants such as Laetitia Tankwe, an advisor to the president of the board of trustees of Ircantec, a French pension fund and a member of Climate Action 100+, urged investors to stay vigilant as some companies have called for the climate action agenda to be put on hold, while the world deals with fallout from the pandemic.

“The recovery can not be made at the expense of the climate,” said Tankwe.