I attended the seventh Investor Summit on Climate Risk, co-sponsored by the U.N. Foundation and the nonprofit sustainability group Ceres, on the heels of the historic Paris Climate Summit. Five hundred investors representing twenty-two trillion dollars in assets convened at the U.N.’s iconic East Side headquarters, where they heard from some of the negotiations’ highest-profile players, including Christiana Figueres, the U.N. climate chief; Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development, and energy; and Michael Bloomberg, who currently serves as the U.N. special envoy for climate change and cities. The event was, in essence, the Climate Summit of Money, and the question being posed was how to finance the clean-energy transition that Paris promised—a transition that scientists and economists agree must happen quickly if the world is to avert the worst economic impacts of climate change—within the strictures of fiduciary duty. “The tools that you design, the financial structures that you develop, the blends that you are able to put together,” Figueres said, setting the agenda for the day in her address. “All of that, in the next five years, will decide the quality of certainly the energy and certainly the quality of the global economy for the next thirty-five years, and hence the quality of life for everyone else for hundreds of years.”
The International Energy Agency has estimated that it will cost sixteen and a half trillion dollars for the world to meet its collective Paris goals, and the presenters at the conference sliced and diced this ambitious mandate from a variety of angles.