Just as green, or socially responsible, investments are fast emerging as a focus domain across the financial world, more frequent and severe natural calamities have heightened the need to contain climate change, while expanding the use of clean energy.
Global economies will need to invest as much as $55tn through the middle of the century to meet an emissions goal and contain warming of the planet, according to a report by a group of executives from energy-intensive companies including ArcelorMittal, BP and Royal Dutch Shell.
Reaching net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 will require large-scale electrification of industries, buildings and transport, as well as the use of hydrogen and biofuels in areas that can’t be electrified, according to the Energy Transitions Commission.
Using less energy to produce more and recycling material will aid the efforts. Building renewable power plants will take up a bulk of the estimated investment.
Qatar, for sure, is at the forefront of global initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint.
The Qatar Stock Exchange is developing a sustainability benchmark index for the listed companies as the country has promising potential to be a niche ESG (environment, social and governance) market in the region, the bourse said in July.
As early as a week ago, QNB Group became the first in Qatar to debut a “green bond” offering under its Medium Term Note (MTN) Programme. QNB received subscriptions in excess of $1.8bn, demonstrating global investor’s confidence in the group’s commitment to ESG principles.
To be sure, in the world of investing, asset managers are increasingly incorporating ESG metrics into their investment decisions.
The common thesis that underpins ESG investing is that companies have obligations that go beyond shareholders and return on equity; and that investors and companies also need to consider their impact on customers, employees, local communities and society in general.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, ESG-focused investors are increasingly seen judging companies on their coronavirus response.
As countries adopt goals to align with the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming, a new discussion around economic growth is evolving.
In recent years, a group of economists, ecologists, and anthropologists has gained attention for trying to overturn a core tenet of economic policy: Growth is good for everyone.
The “degrowth” movement seeks to redefine humanity’s goals along ecological lines to address the climate crisis, along with a reconsideration of using gross domestic product (GDP) as a metric for progress.
It envisions focusing on improving human well-being, rather than constant economic growth, and doing so within certain “planetary boundaries” to tackle problems such as global warming and the loss of biodiversity.
Alternatively, proposals to reduce carbon emissions such as the Green New Deal in the US, or the European Union’s Green Deal, don’t reject economic growth but call for “green growth.” That means development that safeguards the environment, such as scaling up low-carbon technologies.
The upheaval of the coronavirus crisis has added fuel to the debate.
In a wider sense, the $30tn-plus ESG investing – which came to prominence since the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis – would envisage that combating climate change is a sustainable investment opportunity over long term.
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