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The latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid bare the pressing need to invest in adapting to the physical impacts of a warming planet.
UN secretary-general António Guterres said he'd never seen anything like the report before. It underscored how fossil fuels are "choking humanity".
He added that "delay means death", and called for the private sector financing coal and underwriters of the oil and gas industry to be held to account. "OECD countries must phase out coal by 2030 and all others by 2040."
The latest warning from climate scientists must prompt action from investors to reduce the impacts of climate change, the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) said.
The AIGCC, whose members have more than $36 trillion of assets under management, said the report "describes how, if emissions remain high, all Asian regions studied by the report – Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam – will be impacted by physical climate risks including dangerously high heat and humidity levels, sea level rise and flooding".
The AIGCC recommended investors tackle climate change by aligning their portfolios with 1.5°C targets, calling on governments to make policy changes, and disclose interim net-zero targets.
Key findings included:
- Accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, as progress on climate adaptation measures is "uneven".
- "Rapid, deep" cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are required to avoid increasing loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure.
- Cities are "hotspots" of climate risks, but also potentially part of the answer through green solutions.
- There is a "stronger" interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people than previous IPCC reports found.
UK-based bank HSBC's global head of ESG research, Wai-Shin Chan, said: "Investors, businesses and governments must plan collaboratively for the longer term in order to avoid breaching the limits to adaptation, where it becomes prohibitively expensive to respond.
"The estimates for the costs of adaptation vary widely, but acting sooner will reduce these costs in most areas – and this must be met by mobilising all forms of finance."
Environmental disclosure group CDP said: "This stark depiction of escalating climate impacts should light a fire under governments and corporates in the high-emitting economies most responsible for climate change, whose lack of action to-date disproportionally affects the most vulnerable across the planet and pushes the world ever closer to a point of no return."
Urs Dieterich, managing director of South Pole's Landscape Resilience Fund (LRF), said: "What is happening to our climate right now is scary and shocking.
"The good news is we are on the precipice of an explosion of innovative solutions geared to helping us all survive, even thrive, in a changing climate. This is where businesses have a pivotal role to play. The LRF is one of a handful of funds seeking to channel private investment into landscapes and communities that will be hardest hit by extreme climate change."