Institutional Investors Demand G7 Climate Action While Trudeau Scrambles to Show Leadership
A group of nearly 300 big institutional investors with almost $26 trillion in assets under management will be calling on G7 leaders gathered in La Malbaie, Quebec to phase out coal-fired generation “with utmost urgency” as part of the effort to rein in the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
The call will come at a meeting where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be scrambling to salvage his tattered credibility on climate change and another key environmental priority, a plastics waste charter touted by Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, the National Post reports. The meeting convenes just a week after his government made the stunning decision to buy out the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and pay Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. C$4.5 billion for the privilege.
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In their letter to the G7, a group of 288 signatories that includes corporate giants Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Investors, DWS, HSBC Global Asset Management, Nomura Asset Management, Australian Super, HESTA, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and major U.S. pension funds like the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) warns that government climate action to date is insufficient to meet the targets in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“The global shift to clean energy is under way, but much more needs to be done by governments,” the companies write.
The letter calls on the G7 governments—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—to set deadlines to phase out coal-fired generation worldwide, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and “put a meaningful price on carbon”. The investors “also urged governments to strengthen national plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and to ensure that companies improve climate-related financial reporting,” Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, in his role as the world’s newest fossil CEO, Trudeau is “facing increased pressure to deliver a solid climate change commitment,” the National Post states. “Luca Bergamaschi, the lead Italian negotiator on climate change from last year’s gathering, said European leaders see Trans Mountain as evidence Europe will have to carry the ball on climate.”
That assessment of Canada’s sincerity and resolve might collide with the EU countries’ growing impatience with Donald Trump’s position on trade tariffs and climate change. “The Europeans are less willing to compromise in order to appease the U.S. and maintain unity at all costs,” Bergamaschi said. The Post cites Bergamaschi and Catherine Abreu, executive director of Climate Action Network-Canada, both observing that international climate organizations “want the G7 to set the stage for countries around the world to agree to raise emissions targets they say remain far too low.”
The Globe and Mail’s take on the G7 meeting is that Trudeau will try to “reassert Canada’s claim to climate change leadership” while national political leaders are visiting. “While trade and security are expected to dominate discussions, Mr. Trudeau—in his role as chair of the meeting—is pushing for a commitment on climate change to be included in its final statement,” the Globe states.
“However, Mr. Trudeau’s climate leadership credentials are under attack after last week’s pipeline deal, which aims to bolster the fortunes of the emissions-intensive oil sands sector,” the paper adds. “Canadian environmentalists argue the Liberal government’s support for the Trans Mountain pipeline and growth in the oil sands is inconsistent with its international commitments on climate change.”
The president of Ceres, the U.S. non-profit that worked with the institutional investors on the statement released this week, “suggested that Mr. Trudeau’s support for the oil sands pipeline is misguided both financially and from an environmental perspective,” the Globe adds. But Mindy Lubbers said the Canadian government is still an international climate leader.
“We are convinced that more money put into the oil sands, in the tens of billions of dollars, is very likely to become stranded assets,” she said. But “nobody is getting this perfect,” and “the Prime Minister is getting it a lot better than many, many others.”