Climate change: confronting the new climate normal

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Entitled “Turn down the heat: confronting the new climate normal”, the report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists almost unanimously predicting what will happen by the end of this century unless serious policy changes occur.

4°C scenarios are devastating for the world

In a 4 degree warmer world, “unprecedented” heat extremes would affect 70 to 80% of the land area in the Middle East and north Africa, where people are already struggling with scarce water resources. The report is unequivocal in describing the 4°C scenarios as “devastating” for the world.

We know what’s happening, what are we going to do about it?

Science is unequivocal about the fact that humans are the cause of global warming. Major changes are already being observed: global mean warming is 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels; oceans have warmed by 0.09°C since the 1950s and are acidifying; sea levels rose by about 20cm since pre-industrial times and are now rising at 3.2 cm per decade; an exceptional number of extreme heat waves occurred in the last decade; major food crop growing areas are increasingly affected by drought.

 Despite good intentions, higher levels of warming are increasingly likely

In spite of the global community’s best intentions to keep global warming below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial climate, higher levels of warming are increasingly likely. Scientists agree that countries’ current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change mission pledges and commitments would most likely result in 3.5 to 4°C warming. And the longer those pledges remain unmet, the more likely a 4°C world becomes.

Are you integrating climate change into your investment thinking?

As concerns rise about the likely effects on the climate from greenhouse gas emissions, pressure builds on institutional investors to assess their exposure to companies that extract fossil fuels. It’s a subject that simply cannot be ignored – financial markets are already assessing the financial implications of the probable “stranding” of a certain part of oil companies’ fossil fuel assets.

A 4°C world can, and must, be avoided –  in our SRI portfolio management* we analyse the efforts oil companies are making to reduce carbon emissions – ambitious action on climate change is necessary not just as a moral imperative, but because it makes good economic sense.

 

*SRI: Sustainable Responsible Investment

Alexandre Jeanblanc

Investment Specialist, SRI

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