limit global warming to two degrees, SEK 7,000 billion must be invested in
renewable energy systems each year until 2050. Photo: Gustaf Hellsing/IKON
In 2009 the Church of Sweden’s national level sold all its shares in oil and coal companies and instead invested in companies that contribute to solving the climate crisis. Now the Church is also selling its final shareholdings in three gas companies. On account of the climate summit in New York tomorrow, in an article for discussion in the weekly business magazine Veckans affärer the Church of Sweden urges more owners and managers of capital to take action regarding the climate issue.
“According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) we need to invest SEK 7,000 billion in renewable energy systems each year from now on until 2050. That means roughly tripling today’s investments. If not, we will not manage to limit global warming to two degrees. Politicians, companies and investors must all act now if we are to manage the transition from fossil fuels to renewable, energy-efficient solutions. The longer we wait, the more expensive the climate bill will become,” says Anders Thorendal, head of head of finance at the Church of Sweden.
In the article Thorendal and the Church’s climate expert Henrik Grape point out that climate change can still be stopped around the world. This week, committed people from the whole world are meeting in New York to urge politicians and the international community to shoulder their responsibility and steer development towards a future that inspires hope.
Religious leaders from the world’s various faith communities are also there in New York, including former Archbishop Anders Wejryd, who is the new President of the European section of the World Council of Churches. These leaders have submitted a joint statement saying that future generations must be able to inherit an inhabitable Earth where we share the planet’s resources more fairly.
One key issue for discussion during the New York summit is how the financial sector can play an active part in the transition to a climate-smart society. Sweden can demonstrate leadership in this respect. The Church of Sweden urges owners and managers of capital, including the Swedish state and the AP funds (which are government entities in the Swedish pension system), to:
· Draw up strategies and action plans to gradually reduce climate impact in their capital management and lending operations,
· Openly report on the result of this work, at an overall level and at fund level,
· Create new, innovative forms for companies, the state and investors to make it attractive to invest in climate-smart energy systems, for example. Today we are also seeing how low-carbon indexes and green bonds are growing rapidly.
In addition, the new Swedish government should:
· Push for an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris in 2015,
· Actively help to make the EU stop providing subsidies amounting to many billions of Swedish kronor for coal, oil and gas, and help to create an effective market for CO2 emissions trading in the EU,
· Ensure that regulations and financial policy instruments, such as taxes and fees, promote long-term investments that benefit the climate.
The Church of Sweden is the largest faith community in Sweden. The national level of the organisation manages buffer capital, via external managers, amounting to about SEK 6 billion. For ethical and financial reasons, the capital is to be managed with consideration for human rights and the environment. In practice, this means that the emphasis is on companies that actively and systematically manage their impact on society and the environment, and willingly contribute to increased sustainability through products and services. The Church and other investors try to influence companies that have problems. For more information, visit http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/responsibleinvestment.