Outgoing head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, told the BBC that the financial sector had begun to curb investment in fossil fuels – but far too slowly.
He said leading pension fund analysis "is that if you add up the policies of all of companies out there, they are consistent with warming of 3.7-3.8C". He added that the rise of almost 4C (39F) was "far above the 1.5 degrees that the people say they want and governments are demanding”.
He re-iterated his warning that unless firms woke up to what he called the climate crisis, many of their assets would become worthless.
“If we were to burn all those oil and gas there’s no way we would meet carbon budget,” he said. “Up to 80% of coal assets will be stranded, (and) up to half of developed oil reserves. A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund or insurer: What’s your plan? Four to five years ago only leading institutions had begun to think about these issues and could report on them. Now $120tn worth of balance sheets of banks and asset managers are wanting this disclosure (of investments in fossil fuels). But it’s not moving fast enough.”
Climate change was what he called a “tragedy of the horizon” because the decision-making time horizon of investment managers is between two and 10 years.
“In those horizons there will be more extreme weather events, but by the time that the extreme events become so prevalent and so obvious it’s too late to do anything about it," he said.
Natural England chairman Tony Juniper and the Environment Agency's Emma Howard Boyd warned "It's clear that 2020 is our last chance to bring the world together to take decisive action on climate change in order to protect our communities..."