Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Allure of Low Carbon Investment Opportunities

Investors are waking up to the opportunities afforded by the low carbon economy. The benefits of emissions reduction extend far beyond averting a climate catastrophe. Decreasing our GHG emissions will help create jobs, alleviate poverty, improve public health and even provide greater food security.

The math supports climate action and the economics are becoming harder to refute. Market forces are driving a steady flow of capital and investors are finding it impossible to ignore the return potential of low carbon technologies.

We have never confronted such a portentous and daunting challenge as the climate crisis, nor have we ever seen such a stellar opportunity. This is a unique investment that offers phenomenal returns, while fostering socio-economic growth.

The case for a low carbon economy is getting stronger and concerns that it will bankrupt the economy are proving to be false. Early in 2016 IRENA indicated that doubling the amount of clean energy by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, will increase GDP by $1.3 trillion.

As explained in the background of a EurActiv.com article, the amount of money that needs to be invested to cut emissions to sustainable levels is estimated at between 500 ($568) and 1,500 ($1,705) billion euros per year.

Nations like the US are poised to formally ratify the emissions reduction pledges they made at COP21. Most of the world's leading emitters have already announced plans to massively increase their renewable energy capacities. These commitments are expected to grow over time.

At the beginning of the year, Mindy Lubber and Christiana Figueres wrote,
"The winds of change from Paris are already shifting policy and financial flows towards ever cleaner and renewable energies and sustainable infrastructure."
The size of the opportunity is enormous. US Secretary of State John Kerry said that climate change presents an opportunity that could far surpass the tech boom of the 1990s. The climate crisis is, "a multitrillion-dollar market with billions of users worldwide." Kerry said. "[C]lean energy is one of the greatest economic opportunities the world has ever seen...There are opportunities literally everywhere you look."

Research from the New Climate Economy corroborates Kerry's claim and finds that low carbon investing in cities alone could generate savings of between $17 and 22 trillion by 2050. For example, New York City has reduced its GHG emissions by 19 percent since 2005, and it plans to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Clean energy has grown six fold in the last decade and in 2015 we saw big changes in the energy sector. A record 330 billion was invested in new clean energy initiatives. According to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, since 2004, the world has invested $2.3 trillion in renewable energy. This will only grow reaching an astounding $68 trillion in energy investments by 2040. The IEA says that we will need $90 trillion of new energy investment by 2030.

As explained by Lubber and Figueres:
"The actions needed are legion, but so too are the rewards for investors and companies who make the shift early and embed the transition rapidly."
Related
Economics
Renewables are Unstoppable
Renewables will Keep Growing Whether Oil Prices are Low or High
Renewables Decoupled from the Price of Oil
Investments in Renewables Eclipsing Fossil Fuels
Market Reaction to COP21 Fossil Fuels Crash Renewables Soar
Corporate Pledges to Increase Renewable Energy
Why the Corporate World is Embracing Renewable Energy

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