- Investors could lose trillions of dollars as the climate crisis hits oceans, the WWF has said.
- An estimated $8.4 trillion of assets and revenues are at risk from rising temperatures.
- The financial community is embracing green investing ahead of the COP26 summit.
Investors face a hit of $8.4 trillion to assets and revenues over the next 15 years as the climate crisis damages ocean health, unless action is taken to hold down global temperatures, the World Wildlife Fund has found.
Under a “business as usual” scenario in which little is done to address rising temperatures, investors in 66% of listed companies are at risk of big losses, according to WWF research carried out with research group Metabolic.
The study underlines the threat that climate change poses to the global financial system, with investors facing the possibility that companies, infrastructure and whole sectors are ravaged by the phenomenon.
“This report shows the scale of what we all have to lose,” said Karen Sack, executive director of Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, a global investment pressure group.
“Today’s ocean and coastal assets at risk are tomorrow’s stranded assets, where hard-fought-for value is going to be eroded if we don’t take immediate action.”
Of the $8.4 trillion of assets and revenues that are at risk, the biggest chunk would be from damage to coastal real estate and infrastructure, while coastal fisheries would suffer another big hit.
The WWF report found that even keeping global temperature increases to below 2°C (3.6°F) would put $3.3 billion of assets and revenues at risk. The Paris Agreement signed by governments in 2015 aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
It said that the ocean and the activities it supports – such as fishing, renewable energy and trading – are expected to contribute $3 trillion to the global economy a year by 2030.
But pollution from shipping, rising sea levels, overfishing, and the loss of biodiversity threaten to hit the “blue economy” hard, the WWF said.
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The report said that many investors are more reliant on the ocean than they realize, with airlines, restaurants and retailers deriving revenues from activities centered around the sea.
“Stranded assets” – assets which suddenly become worth much less or even turn into liabilities – are a big risk for investors, the report said. For example, a port may be a big money spinner but is far less valuable when it’s at the centre of freak hurricanes each year.
The financial community is increasingly focused on green issues ahead of COP26, the UN climate-change conference scheduled for early November.
“The COP26 climate summit is a critical moment to take action, and the finance sector must step up and align itself to the Paris Agreement targets by shifting their investments to those that support a sustainable, low-carbon future,” the WWF’s report said.