The consortium of major institutional investors known as CERES is promoting the idea of an economic surge related to the “Clean Trillion”—a projected annual capital investment threshold required to prevent a 2ºC rise in global average temperatures. CERES projects the world will need to invest an average of $1 trillion per year in clean power generation every year for the next 36 years to effectively put the brakes on global average temperature rise.

The core message is that this is not “added cost”; this is fresh investment and a major opportunity for a new wave of prosperity across the world, which institutional investors whose net worth is more than $75 trillion, can and should support.

According to CERES:

For detailed recommendations related to clean energy investment, download Ceres’ paper Investing in the Clean Trillion.

Total assets by type of institutional investor
Total Assests Institutional Investors

Policymakers should level the playing field by adopting policies that accelerate and expand investment in clean energy. Companies and investors should advocate for:

  • Policies that stimulate investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation
  • Policies that put a limit & price on greenhouse gas emissions
  • A new global climate change agreement by 2015

We cannot afford to continue business as usual. We need to rescue capital from carbon asset risk. Governments, corporate leaders, major investment managers, and even the Wall Street Journal, now recognize this.

A simple, ideologically neutral, 100% revenue-neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend plan will ensure that those who invest in fossil fuels face the true cost of their investment, and know to transition, intelligently and responsibly, in an expeditious manner, to cleaner, less costly alternatives.

This is the true economic context in which all policy discussions around climate and energy are taking place. We need to find the right way to get this message to everyone we speak to. Though public opinion is shifting toward climate action (83% of Americans now favor action), climate science is not always the right way to get people on board, because for some people, it just doesn’t feel like a moral incentive. But the solvency of our Republic is, in many of those cases, and we can show the economic trend lines and make it clear that failure to break the status quo and innovate will cost us dearly, in economic terms, while innovating and leading the global clean energy transition will never hurt us; it will only ensure our economic leadership and prosperity in this century and beyond.

Written by Joseph Robertson

Joseph is Global Strategy Director for the non-partisan non-profit Citizens' Climate Lobby. He coordinates the building of CCL's citizen engagement groups on 5 continents, leads the Citizens' Climate Engagement Network and represents CCL in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, UNFCCC negotiations, and other UN processes. He is a member of the Executive Board of the UN-linked NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY and of the Policy and Strategy Group for the World We Want. He is also the founder of Geoversiv.net and the Geoversiv Foundation and the lead strategist supporting the high-level climate dialogue series Accelerating Progress, Advancing Innovation.

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