Monday, October 10, 2011

Climate change not factored into companies' value, warns UN chief

Fiona Harvey in the Guardian: Companies around the world are being valued incorrectly by world stock markets, because the cost of their exposure to climate change is not being factored in, the United Nations' climate chief has warned.

"As long as these companies [that emit large quantities of greenhouse gases] have a high value, we are giving out the wrong signals," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, told an audience of carbon finance specialists in London. "It has got to be that those companies that are investing in the technologies of the future are recognised."

She called for "an active valuation" of companies with high carbon emissions, saying the world was "far behind" in doing so. "How is it possible that the valuation is not keeping pace?"

Companies should take note, she urged, of the political reality that governments around the world have signed up to a commitment of holding global temperature rises to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists regard as the limit of safety beyond which climate change becomes unstoppable and catastrophic.

If businesses were to pay attention to the political commitment that countries signed up to in Copenhagen in 2009 and last year in Cancun, they would behave differently, she suggested. "We are moving to a low-carbon future – businesses need to understand that signal. This is a megatrend."...

Smokestacks in Champaign, Illinois, shot by Dori, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States license

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