Over 500 global investors gathered at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss how to increase clean energy investment

In international news, United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday advised a gathering of more than 500 global investors to mobilise $660 billion of clean energy investments by 2020.

The gathering held at the UN headquarters in  New York was aimed at kickstarting funds needed to help the world shift to clean energy, UN News Centre reported.

“Markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that can generate low-emissions resilient growth,” he stated.

Ban Ki-moon added: “The world now counts on you to act at the speed and scale needed to transform the global economy. To keep the rise of global temperatures below 2 degrees, and even 1.5 degrees, we must begin the shift away from fossil fuels immediately. We need a massive scaling up of investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.”

Clean trillion needed

The gathering was organised by a consortium including the non-profit organisation Ceres, the UN Foundation and the UN Office for Partnerships in a bid to accelerate a global shift towards increasing cleaner energy and reaching targets pledged during the 2015 climate change conference.

The targets are to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to zero and avoid the harmful climate warming.

The secretary-general applauded last year’s clean energy investments, however he stressed that there is a lot that needs to be done in order to raise more funds, laying out five steps for the investor action.

“In 2015, clean energy investments stood at around $330 billion, more than six times higher than in 2004. This is a good down-payment, but far less than the “clean trillion” needed annually throughout the coming decades to keep temperature rise to acceptable levels and limit the risks from climate change,” he said.

The UN News Centre highlighted that well placed institutional investors should provide significant amounts of capital needed by developing countries in order to meet their national climate plans.

The organisation further outlined other options, including:

  • Pension funds must use their influence as investors and shareholders to accelerate the rapid de-carbonisation of the economy.
  • The banking sector must continue scaling up the green bond market while changing its lending practices to support green investments, reflecting the growing risk in the brown economy.
  • The insurance industry must strengthen climate resilience and disaster risk reduction efforts, especially in the most vulnerable countries.
  • Investors need to know how the impact of climate change can affect specific companies, sectors and financial markets as a whole, with clearer disclosure.

Economic opportunities presented

Ban Ki-moon added: “Investors and businesses that redirect resources to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth will be the economic powerhouses of the 21st century.

“Those that fail to do so will be on the losing side of history. Every decision on investment and resource allocation must be part of the solution. Every dollar must be invested in low-carbon goods and services.”

Commenting on the topic, Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of its Investor Network on Climate Risk, said investors have the advantage to address climate risks and seize the economic opportunities presented by clean energy.

Lubber sated: “Ultimately, global investment portfolios need to shift far more capital to low-carbon business activity and away from risky high carbon sectors that may perform poorly in the years ahead.”