Quantcast
Business

World's Largest Sovereign Wealth Fund to Invest in Clean Energy

How are investors, businesses and governments doing on the road to the Clean Trillion goal of $1 trillion per year invested in clean energy? Here are my thoughts on the progress and challenges we’ve seen recently.

Progress

Norway announced in March that it would require its $840 billion sovereign wealth fund (the largest in the world) to invest a portion of its assets in clean energy. This could lead to billions more per year in clean energy investment and is consistent with the recommendations in the Ceres report, Investing in the Clean Trillionto “develop capacity to boost clean energy investments and consider setting a goal such as 5 percent portfolio-wide clean energy investments.” Details are expected on Norway’s plans in April.

March was a great month for the journey to a 'clean trillion,' sparked by an upcoming investment from the world's largest wealth fund. Photo credit: daBinsi/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not just the largest investors in the world that are investing in clean energy—businesses are ramping up investments too. Bloomberg reported that Google has invested more than $1.4 billion in clean energy since 2010, including almost $400 million in 2013 alone. On March 19, in a sign of the rapidly growing green bond market, Unilever issued a $415 million bond earmarked for reducing waste, water use and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Utilities are acting, too. In Texas, Austin Energy signed a 25-year agreement for solar power at below five cents per kilowatt-hour, a new record low. These company commitments are important in setting precedents for other businesses and showing that investing in clean energy has moved from “niche” to “mainstream.”

While the cost of solar is down, stocks are up: the 32 stocks in HSBC’s global solar index gained 65 percent in value for calendar year 2013 and the index is up 23 percent in the first few months of 2014.

Governments took positive steps last month, too. The European Union and U.S. issued a joint statement on March 26 that reaffirmed strong determination to work towards the adoption in Paris in 2015 of a global agreement on climate change with the “goal of limiting the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius …” The EU and U.S. agreed to continue “phasing out fossil fuel subsidies … promoting sustainable energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy, fighting deforestation and mobilizing private and public finance” among other measures.

Challenges

March began with the fossil fuel industry and its allies in Congress continuing their campaign to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from setting limits on carbon pollution from electric power plants. Given that climate change legislation is not likely to pass Congress in the next two years, EPA limits are critical in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on March 6 to block a proposed EPA rule limiting carbon emissions from future coal-fired electricity plants. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto.

March also marked the anniversary of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. In reflecting on the past 25 years since the spill, what is most exasperating is that the world has made so little progress in reducing our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels.

Today's share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix, at 82 percent, is the same as it was 25 years ago, according to the International Energy Agency. We need “stronger steps toward a cleaner, fossil fuel free future,” Ceres President Mindy Lubber wrote in a recent blog.

“We cannot afford another 25 years of incrementalism and dawdling.”

Ceres Developments

Ceres supported the Clean Trillion movement by focusing investor and business leaders on the risks of fossil fuels and the opportunities of the clean energy future. A few highlights:

First, ExxonMobil has committed to disclose the risks to its business model of factors such as declining oil demand, the growth of renewables and future limits on carbon emissions. Coal giant Peabody Energy has also agreed to issue a similar report. These agreements are a direct result of the Carbon Asset Risk initiative, coordinated by Ceres and Carbon Tracker, mobilizing $3 trillion worth of investors to challenge 45 of the world's largest oil and gas companies to prepare for the low-carbon future.

Second, there’s more shareholder activism on climate change and clean energy than ever before. Ceres announced that 35 institutional investors have filed 142 resolutions in a coordinated effort to spur action by 118 companies on climate change, clean energy and other issues.

Want to hear what investors, businesses, labor leaders and clean energy investment experts have to say about the Clean Trillion? Watch the brief video:

My Ceres colleagues and I welcome your thoughts and questions on Clean Trillion. Please feel free to connect with me at fox@ceres.org or on Twitter, @ChristopherNFox.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

How Close is the World to $1 Trillion in Renewable Energy Investments?

Google Invests $80 Million in 6 New Solar Projects

——–

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Animals
The turkey ranch in Sonora is where Diestel keeps its pasture-raised birds. Jeanne Cooper

Popular Diestel Turkey Sold at Whole Foods Tests Positive for FDA-Prohibited Drugs

Diestel Turkey, sold by Whole Foods and other retailers at premium prices, says on its website that its "animals are never given hormones, antibiotics or growth stimulants."

But Diestel Turkey samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggest otherwise, leading consumers to wonder: Can these companies be trusted?

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Slaughter of 90,000 Wild Horses Could Proceed Despite 80% Objection From American Public

The American Wild Horse Campaign on Thursday harshly criticized Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's appointment of Brian Steed, the former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as dangerous and out of step with the wishes of the vast majority of Americans.

"Rep. Stewart is leading the charge to slaughter America's wild horses and burros over the opposition of 80 percent of Americans," said Suzanne Roy, AWHC Executive Director. "Putting his deputy at the helm of the agency charged with protecting these national icons is like putting the wolf in charge of the chicken coop."

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy

Bright Idea: This Lamp Harvests Its Own Energy From Plants

Now that's green energy. Dutch product designer Ermi van Oers and her team are working on the first atmospheric lamp powered by living plants.

The Living Light does not require an electric socket. It can harvest its own energy through the photosynthetic process of the encased plant, which means the potential of this off-grid light source could be "huge," as Van Oers told Dezeen.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate

Landmark Youth Climate Lawsuit Heads to Federal Appeals Court

There has been a significant development in the constitutional climate change lawsuit so far successfully prosecuted by 21 youth plaintiffs: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to hear oral argument over whether the Trump administration can evade trial currently set for Feb. 5, 2018. Oral arguments will be heard before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Dec. 11 and can be watched on a live stream beginning at 10 a.m. PST.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Martin Schulz / Flickr

Pope Francis: These 4 'Perverse Attitudes' Could Push Earth to Its Brink

Pope Francis issued a strong message to negotiators at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany on Thursday, warning them not to fall into "four perverse attitudes" regarding the future of the planet—"denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions."

Francis, who has long pressed for strong climate action and wrote his 2015 encyclical on the environment, renewed his "urgent call" for renewed dialogue "on how we are building the future of the planet."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza sits near the Statoil contracted oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen. Greenpeacce

Groups Sue Norway Over Failure to Protect Environment for Future Generations

By David Leestma

Greenpeace and the Nature and Youth environmental group opened a lawsuit this week over Norway's failure to abide by its constitutional obligation to safeguard the environment for future generations.

The lawsuit, which focuses on local environmental damage and the contribution that oil extraction will make to climate change, challenges 10 licenses issued by the Norwegian government for exploration in the Barents Sea. Given to Statoil, Chevron and other oil companies, the licenses violate Norway's constitution and the Paris agreement, according to the plaintiffs. Government lawyers claim the case is a publicity stunt that risks valuable jobs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Lia Heifetz of Barnacle Foods hauls kelp for salsa. Bethany Sonsini Goodrich

A Plea for Kelp: These Farmers and Chefs Want to Make Seaweed the Next Superfood

By Sarah Bedolfe

Summer in southeast Alaska is kelp season for the cofounders of Barnacle Foods, Lia Heifetz and Matt Kern. Each week, the pair watches the tides and weather, waiting for the right moment to cruise out to the abundant kelp beds offshore. They lean over the side of the boat and pull up the fronds and stalks, one piece at a time. As soon as they get back to shore, they start processing the day's harvest into a local delicacy: kelp salsa.

Salsa and Alaskan algae might seem like odd bedfellows, but for Barnacle Foods, it's a calculated decision. The kelp's savory notes make the salsa's flavor "a little more explosive," according to Kern. And the pairing is also a practical one. "Salsa is such a familiar food item," Heifetz said. It's "a gateway to getting more people to eat seaweed."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Lorie Shaull / Flickr

Massive Pipeline Leak Shows Why Nebraska Should Reject Keystone XL

About 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) of oil leaked Thursday from TransCanada's Keystone oil pipeline near Amherst, South Dakota, drawing fierce outcry from pipeline opponents.

The leak, the largest spill to date in South Dakota, comes just days before Nebraska regulators decide on whether its controversial sister project—the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline—will go forward.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!