Climate change is a key priority for Sibiu summit on Future of Europe

(EurActiv, 9 May 2019) Investors are clear, as global leaders in addressing climate change, it is vital for the EU to send strong, long-term signals about how it will fulfil – and indeed, step up – its commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, writes Stephanie Pfeifer.

Stephanie Pfeifer is CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).

EU leaders meet shortly in Sibiu, Romania, to discuss the Future of Europe. As well as the Brexit elephant in the room, discussions will unfold on the highest priority topics which are likely to dominate both the upcoming European elections and the new Commission mandate later in 2019: defence, economic and monetary policy, the social dimension – and, sustainability.

Institutional investors – the pension funds and asset managers directing trillions of euros with a view to ensuring sound financial returns for their beneficiaries – will be closely watching the sustainability debate. This is because investors recognise the significant risks posed by climate change, as well as the enormous economic opportunities provided by low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies, markets and business models. For these reasons, a growing number of investors are already stepping up their commitments to sustainable and responsible investment, as well as putting pressure on high-emitting companies.

But investors also look to policy-makers to enable the scaling up and acceleration of this action with the right policy frameworks. Clear, long-term legislative programmes are critical to the ability of investors to assess and manage climate-related risks, to support innovation and invest in opportunities that will sustain a low-carbon, more energy efficient and climate-resilient world.

A cornerstone of the EU’s future legislative programme will be the Strategy for Long-Term Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction. When the European Commission published the precursor to this – the strategic vision on “A Clean Planet for All” – in November 2018, investors welcomed the opportunity for a discussion on how to align all relevant EU policy frameworks with the goals of the Paris Agreement, as a way to send the most positive investment signals possible. The stakes here are not insignificant. The European Commission itself acknowledges that even to meet current climate and energy targets, €180 billion per annum in additional investment will be required.

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EurActiv, 9 May 2019: Climate change is a key priority for Sibiu summit on Future of Europe