More than 200 institutional investors, together responsible for more than $15 trillion in assets, sent a letter to leaders of the world's largest economies today calling for quick actions to address climate change and urging them to stand by their commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
The message comes as President Donald Trump's inner circle debates whether to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.
"There's a lot of concern in the investor community and in the business community about President Trump's apparent leaning toward pulling out of Paris," said Peyton Fleming, a spokesman for Ceres, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable investment and one of the groups behind the letter. "The most important person to receive the letter will be President Trump and his administration."
The letter asks members of the G7 and G20 economic groups to develop policies that will help direct investment to low-carbon energy sources.
"As long-term institutional investors, we believe that the mitigation of climate change is essential for the safeguarding of our investments," the letter says. "The implementation of effective climate policy mechanisms and the regular monitoring of outcomes is vital for investors to make well-informed investment decisions."
The investor group, which includes several large government pension funds, urges the leaders not to backslide on their commitments and to develop long-term climate plans that can meet the Paris goal of keeping global temperature rise "well below" 2 degrees Celsius.
Some of the same investors last year urged G20 nations to adopt the Paris Agreement, but the issue has taken on new urgency since Trump took office with a promise to "cancel" the pact. In March, G20 leaders dropped a reference to climate change financing from a communiqué after the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries reportedly voiced opposition.
The ongoing schism within the administration over Paris has prompted many large corporations to urge Trump to stay in the accord, arguing that an exit could harm the economy. Several major U.S. companies also took out a full-page ad in major newspapers this week arguing that participating in the Paris Agreement will help strengthen their competitiveness, create jobs in clean energy and technology, and reduce the business risks they face from climate change.
Fleming said chief executives of some of the institutional investors that signed today's letter have also been in direct talks with the Trump administration, stressing the importance of government action on climate change.
"Investors see the urgency of climate change. They are ready to put money in the game," he said. "But they will be hesitant to put money in the game if there are signs that the regulatory frameworks are going to change from one day to another."