COP 26 Private Finance Agenda launched

Today, the COP 26 agenda has been launched to help private finance support the whole economy transition to net zero.
Published on 27 February 2020

News release

The objective is that every professional financial decision will need to take climate change into account. The right framework for reporting, risk management and returns will embed these considerations and help finance a whole economy transition. To achieve net zero, every company, bank, insurer and investor will need to adjust their business models for a low carbon world.

2020 must be a year of climate action, making COP 26 – co-hosted by the UK and Italy – a critical opportunity to help put emissions on a trajectory towards a net zero economy, consistent with the Paris Agreement. Recognising that net zero is both an imperative of climate physics and, in the UK and 120 other countries, the law of the land, financial markets are increasingly demanding clear disclosure and active management of climate opportunities and risks. Private finance is uniquely placed to help support the transition required by amplifing changes in attitudes, consumer preferences and climate policy. Markets can pull forward adjustments from the future, minimising costs and smoothing the adaptation. 

The launch event was hosted by the Lord Mayor of London at Guildhall and began with Sir David Attenborough setting out the scale of the climate challenge. During the morning, leaders from the private finance sector and related fields discussed the actions they were already taking to realise the opportunities and manage climate risks, and how to accelerate action for COP 26.

Mark Carney said: “Given the scale of the climate challenge and the rising expectations of our citizens, 2020 must be a year of climate action where everybody’s in, and that includes the world’s leading financial centre. To identify the largest opportunities and to manage the associated risks, disclosures of climate risk must become comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed, and investing for a net-zero world must go mainstream.”

Speaking at the launch event, COP 26 President and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma said: "This is a pivotal year for the planet as we raise our ambition on emissions reductions and build an economy resilient to climate change. But this is not just about the work of individual governments. We are calling on action from everyone - businesses, civil society and each part of the global financial system to meet the Paris Agreement goals. COP26 is also a critical moment to enhance support for developing countries. We are determined to work together to deliver a prosperous, zero carbon future for all."

Welcoming attendees to the event, Rt Hon. Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russell, said: “The City, London and UK are already leading the charge to a sustainable financial future, but there is lots of work still to be done. With finance at the heart of this agenda, it gives us the mandate to deliver the monumental reallocation of capital needed for our transition to net zero.”

Notes to editors

1. Mark Carney was appointed UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance on 1 December 2019, and Prime Minister Johnson’s Finance Adviser for COP26 on 16 January 2020. He will take up these roles when his term as Governor ends.

2. Financial markets are already demanding action:

a. Banks, insurers, pension funds and investors with balance sheets of $135 trillion are now demanding TCFD climate disclosure from companies.

b. Climate Action 100+, a group of investors controlling over $35 trillion of assets, are asking companies representing 80% of global industrial emissions for strengthened governance of climate change risks and opportunities, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain to levels consistent with the Paris Agreement, and to strengthen climate-related disclosures including by disclosing in line with TCFD.

c. The Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, whose members commit to transitioning their investment portfolios to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, now represents $5 trillion in assets under management. This group is particularly influential because, as long term investors, they are actively engaged with the companies in which they invest, and as major investors in private equity and asset managers, their policies influence the broader financial ecosystem.

3. And companies are responding:

a. The TCFD currently has more than 1000 supporters from 54 countries, with a market cap of $16.7 trillion.

b. The Science-Based Targets initiative - a partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF - has approved 327 company emissions targets as consistent with the Paris Agreement, and this number is growing rapidly. This includes sector targets that account for different mitigation potential and projected growth. The initiative continues to work with the remaining 469 companies who have submitted targets but need to increase their ambition for approval.

c. UK firms, led by the former Lord Mayor Sir Roger Gifford, have helped to build London’s green finance market – a notable achievement of which is the green bond market. The green bond market which has doubled every year since 2012 to reach $500bn outstanding. UK-based banks, like Barclays and HSBC, insurers, like Aviva, and asset managers, like Generation, helped develop climate financial disclosure standards and were amongst the TCFD’s first adopters. Now a range of firms at the heart of the City are beginning to reshape the management of climate-related risks and opportunities.

d. And the PRA’s latest survey finds that almost three quarters of UK banks are starting to treat the risks from climate change like other financial risks – rather than viewing them simply as a corporate social responsibility issue.

4. David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet is a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature. It is Sir David Attenborough’s witness statement and vision for the future, in which he reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime as a naturalist and the devastating changes he has seen. The film will premiere on 16 April 2020.

5. The Governor first spoke about the financial risks from climate change in 2015. Since then, he has regularly spoken about developing a sustainable financial system.

6. The City of London Corporation, together with HM Government, launched in 2019 the new Green Finance Institute (GFI) – the principal forum for public and private sector collaboration in green finance.

7. Bank of England Press Office can be contacted on press@bankofengland.co.uk or 020 3461 4411

8. COP 26 Press Office can be contacted on COP26Media@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

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