One Planet Summit: Financial majors and the World Bank get behind climate challenge

Two years on from COP21 and the historic Paris Agreement, France President, Emmanuel Macron, Jim Yong Kim President of the World Bank Group, and António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations, brought together leading international players in the climate debate to review progress.

So far the fight against climate change has increasingly been waged by cities, regional governments and private actors, including companies, banks and foundations.

At the Paris ‘One Planet Summit’, a deluge of “green” commitments came from global organisations, companies and financial institutions, several of which involved restrictions on investment in coal, and pledges to increase disclosure of climate-related risks in asset portfolios.

Climate finance is Article 2 of the Paris Agreement, referring to the need to strengthen the global response to climate change, includes as a key aim: “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development”. Additionally, Article 9 of the Paris Agreement urges developed countries to take the lead in “[mobilising] climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels.

At the Paris Summit, the World Bank said it would stop financing upstream oil and gas projects from 2019, apart from certain gas projects in the poorest countries in exceptional circumstances.

Axa, one of the world’s largest insurers, said it would quadruple its investments in green projects to €12bn between now and 2020 and that it would increase its divestments from coal, and now oil sands, projects from €500m to more than €3bn.

It also pledged to stop insuring new coal construction projects, or the main oil sands and their pipeline businesses. ING, the Dutch bank, said it was aiming to reduce its financing of coal-fired power generation “to close to zero” by 2025.

Michael Bloomberg, the media owner, and Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said that support for their Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), set up to promote greater transparency on “climate risks” in the financial system, had doubled in the past six months. Some 237 companies with a combined market capitalisation of more than $6.3tn have publicly committed to support the TCFD, including 150 financial groups, responsible for assets of more than $81.7tn.

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December 13, 2017