UN leader calls for more business investment in renewables

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has challenged financiers to “at least” double their investments in clean energy by 2020 to $660 billion (£460bn). 

Addressing more than 500 global investors at the UN’s headquarters in New York, Ban said: “Markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that can generate low-emissions resilient growth. 

“The world now counts on you to act at the speed and scale needed to transform the global economy.  

“To keep global temperature rises well below two degrees [Celsius], and even 1.5 degrees, we must begin the shift away from fossil fuels immediately.  We need a massive scaling up of investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.” 

‘Clean trillion’ 

The meeting in New York – which was organised by the UN and sustainability organisation Ceres – was organised to accelerate investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency so that the COP21 Paris Agreement could be met. 

Ban said: “In 2015, clean energy investments stood at around $330bn, more than six times higher than in 2004.  

“This is a good down-payment, but far less than the ‘clean trillion’ needed annually throughout the coming decades to keep temperature rise to acceptable levels and limit the risks from climate change.” 

The Secretary-General set out five steps for investors to take: 

  • institutional investors must finance developing countries’ plans;
  • pension funds must use their influence to accelerate change;
  • banks must make more green bonds available;
  • insurers must strength efforts to mitigate climate change in developing nations;
  • and investors need clearer disclosure so they can understand how climate change will affect individual businesses.

‘Losing side of history’ 

Ban added: “Investors and businesses that redirect resources to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth will be the economic powerhouses of the 21st century. 

“Those that fail to do so will be on the losing side of history. Every decision on investment and resource allocation must be part of the solution.  

“Every dollar must be invested in low-carbon goods and services.” 

See the United Nations' statement