Investment fund CEOs call for long-term greenhouse gas cuts

Smoke billows from chimneys at a chemical factory in Hefei, Anhui province March 10, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

OSLO (Reuters) - Some of the world's biggest investment funds urged the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Tuesday to commit to a long-term goal to cut world greenhouse gas emissions as part of a U.N. climate deal due to be agreed in December. Cuts in emissions would give investors more certainty, promote research and development and new technologies, and help create jobs, fund chiefs said. "We believe climate change is one of the biggest systemic risks we face," the fund managers, who oversee more than $12 trillion in assets, said in an open letter to G7 finance ministers. The letter was signed by 120 CEOs of investment funds, including Henderson Global Investors, Schroders and pension plans for French civil servants and Ontario teachers. "The benefits of addressing climate change outweigh the costs," they said. The letter was sent ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Dresden, Germany, on Wednesday. Last week top European companies also urged governments to set a goal for slashing greenhouse emissions, saying that going green can bring profits rather than costs. Senior officials from nearly 200 nations will attend a United Nations' conference in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to try to nail down an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, after talks collapsed at the last minute at the last global climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009. The fund managers did not specify an exact goal but said the cuts should ensure that average global temperatures rise by less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrialized levels in the 19th century, a U.N. target adopted in 2010. "We believe that a long-term emissions reduction goal, carbon pricing, and strong national-level plans are critical to send clear market signals," Anne Stausboll, CEO of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), said in a statement. "The world needs $53 trillion of energy investment by 2035 to avoid dangerous climate change," said Philippe Desfosses, head of ERAFP, the pension fund for French civil servants. "A low-carbon future is an imperative." Studies by the U.N. panel of climate scientists suggest that world emissions will have to fall to net zero by 2100 to avert the worst of rising temperatures, such as more floods, droughts and rising sea levels. Net zero means that any lingering emissions of greenhouse gases would be offset, for instance by planting trees that soak up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow or by yet-to-be-developed technologies to extract emissions from the atmosphere. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Susan Fenton)