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Climate Change

Published on May 8th, 2017 | by Tina Casey


Money Talks: $15 Trillion Tells Trump To Declare Victory…And Stay In Paris Climate Change Accord

May 8th, 2017 by  

More than two hundred institutional investors worth the tidy sum of $15 trillion have just put the Trump Administration on notice that climate change has put their assets at risk. The notice comes in the form of a newly published letter to the G7 group of seven industrialized nations and the G20 group of 20 major economies. The letter comes at a time when President Trump could finally make good on his promise to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement — or not, as the case may be.

Pulling out of the Paris agreement was one of Trump’s campaign promises, though if he fails to deliver on that one it won’t make much of a difference to his core supporters, who already weathered a string of disappointments in the first 100 days of the new Administration.

climate change Trump Paris G7 G20

Money Talks…About Climate Change

The new letter was organized under the umbrella of the sustainable investor group Ceres. It was signed by 214 companies and was published earlier today on the Ceres website.

Though addressed to the whole G7 and G20 groups, the letter aims straight at you-know-who:

…We urge all nations to stand by their commitments to the Agreement and to put in place policy measures to achieve their nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) with the utmost urgency.

The letter also takes a potshot at the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has been leading the Trump Administration retreat from climate action:

In addition, we ask governments to develop focused and targeted long-term climate plans by which their NDCs become aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goal…

As for what occasioned the letter, hundreds of businesses and other stakeholders have publicly urged Trump to keep the US in the Paris accord. This one is particularly urgent, though.

It looks like red flags went off back in March when G20 drafted a statement that failed to mention climate change, climate adaptation or climate finance.

To be clear, Trump is not the only target of the new letter. Several other countries also balked at a more forceful reference. However, at last count the US was still the world’s leading economy. Besides, Trump’s penchant for publicity ensures that his name will be the one that sticks out if things go south.

G20 will get a chance to set things right in July during the G20 Leaders Summit, and $15 trillion is telling the group — we’re looking at you, USA — to shape up:

Investors believe it is vital that the governments of G7 and G20 nations continue to publicly express their commitment to support climate finance to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. It is imperative that the public and private sectors work closely together to get the signalling and incentives right to shift the trillions of capital required across the global economy.

By “signalling” the letter could mean several things, including a polite way of telling Trump to knock if off on Twitter fergawdsakes.

The letter also makes it clear that if things fall apart, it’s all on Trump and anyone other foot-draggers out there. They have $15 trillion in assets itching to go:

Investors are willing and ready to work with governments to facilitate the changes that are needed to improve the pricing of climate-related financial impacts, and to mobilise the capital flows that are required to underpin a strong and resilient financial system.

So. There.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The interesting twist is that although the US EPA has been carrying water for Trump’s anti-climate position, the US Energy Department has been busy acting like President Obama is still pulling the levers.

The agency’s main news and blog page is rather quiet but its sub-agencies have been pumping good news about renewable energy and clean tech at a furious pace (the US Department of Defense has also been on something of a clean energy tear, btw).

EPA has been scrubbing climate change from its website, but the Energy Department still has a robust climate page headlined by the image you can see at the top of this article (an Adobe stock image, for those of you keeping score at home). The page starts like this…

Addressing the effects of climate change is a top priority of the Energy Department.

…adds a few pithy details…

As global temperature rise, wildfires, drought and high electricity demand put stress on the nation’s energy infrastructure. And severe weather — the leading cause of power outages and fuel supply disruption in the United States — is projected to worsen, with eight of the 10 most destructive hurricanes of all time having happened in the last 10 years.

…and ends with a bang:

We’re taking responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, develop domestic renewable energy production and win the global race for clean energy innovation. We’re also working to dramatically increase the efficiency of appliances, homesbusinesses and vehicles — all in support of the President’s Climate Action Plan.

Okay, so that last link is broken — that was former President Obama’s action plan.

You know, the one that the investors worth $15 trillion would like to see implemented before their assets go down the drain.

A key feature of the Obama action plan was the Clean Power Plan, which is currently tangled up in the courts.

If the Trump Administration decides to stay in the Paris accord it will have to scramble fast to come up with a plan.

No worries, though.

President Obama’s plan is still available online in the former president’s official archive.

Assuming the Trump Administration can shepherd the Clean Power Plan out of legal trouble, President Trump can simply take the Obama Climate Action Plan and do what he does best: put his name on it, call it beautiful, and hit the links.

Image: via US Department of Energy.


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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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