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Big investors seek stricter climate laws

20/05/2008 - 15:17

By Rachelle Younglai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Investors managing more than $2.3 trillion urged the government on Tuesday to enact strict laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying lax regulation could hurt the competitiveness of U.S. companies.

The group of some 50 investors, including the world's biggest listed hedge fund firm, Man Group Plc and influential venture capitalist John Doerr, want U.S. lawmakers to pass laws to reduce climate-warming emissions by at least 60 to 90 percent by 2050.

Legislation that promotes new and existing clean technologies on the scale needed to dramatically cut down pollution is needed, they said.

The same group of investors are also pushing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to force publicly-traded companies to disclose climate-related risks along with other factors that affect their business.

"Establishing a strong national climate policy for emissions reductions will help investors manage the enormous risks and opportunities posed by global warming," Anne Stausboll, Calpers' interim chief investment officer, said in a statement.

Calpers is the largest U.S. pension fund with about $250 billion in assets under management.

Investors said the lack of strong federal laws may hurt U.S. competitiveness because it is preventing companies from making large-scale capital investments in clean energy such as solar and wind power and other low-carbon technologies and practices.

Randall Edwards, Oregon's treasurer, said Europe and individual U.S. states are tackling climate change and it was time for federal lawmakers to step up to the task.

"It's a huge job opportunity," said Edwards, who managed about $80 billion in assets as of March 31. "It will be a shifting economy. No economy is static."

The European Union is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and increase the share of wind, solar, hydro, wave power and biofuels in their energy mix by the same date.

The investors' letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, comes ahead of Senate debate on legislation aimed at limiting the carbon emissions that spur climate change.

The bill, America's Climate Security Act of 2007, also includes a provision that would require the SEC to craft a rule requiring companies to disclose material risks relating to climate change.

Treasurers and controllers for California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the California State Teachers' Retirement System are among those that signed the letter.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)


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