PLSA ESG 22: Climate action is for more than ‘pure investment risk’

Investors’ actions in tackling climate change are about more than just “pure investment risk”, according to climate scientist, Dr Tamsin Edwards.

Speaking at the PLSA ESG Conference 2022, Edwards noted that there was a bigger picture context for investors to consider.

“The regulation landscape that is happening now and expected in the future, and the risks of being left behind in a decarbonising world, there is a bigger picture that feeds into that,” she told attendees.

“Climate change and decarbonisation affects every single facet of life – there is no sector that can escape this. We need to get to net zero, which means we need small enough emissions to offset the last part and there’s nobody who can escape that process.”

Edwards highlighted the ‘ambition gap’ as the “real challenge” in ensuring that global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees.

“If we take into account the promises we have made for the Paris Agreement, which are the targets for 2030 emissions, that takes us down to the 2.5 degrees of warming,” she continued.

“If we also take into account pledges and targets like the net-zero targets for the mid-century, 2050 or 2060, that takes us down to closer to 2 degrees, even a little lower in the most optimistic scenario.

“The key here is, although it’s still not enough, the most crucial period is now. The IPCC’s predictions for 1.5 degrees of warming is that we need to halve our emissions this decade, not to just plateau or decrease a little bit.

“To give a bit of context, if we consider the drop in emissions from 2019 to 2020 because of the pandemic, that would imply that about three-quarters of that decrease every year for this decade.

"It shows that climate change is not a pass or fail situation, it is something that we keep increasing our ambitions, revising the policies and pledges if we are going to keep warming to the lower end.”

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