Mary Robinson reminds global investors of their climate duty

Former president tells forum of duty to put climate action at heart of investments

Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson told a group of international investors managing over €5 trillion of assets that they have a duty to put climate action at the heart of their investment strategies to limit global warming.

"We all have a responsibility to change our patterns of behaviour and consumption – to eat less meat, fly and drive less frequently, to act and behave sustainably at home," Mrs Robinson told delegates at a Mercer Global Investment Forum in Dublin on Tuesday.

“But you people here today have wider responsibilities as investors, as asset managers, as money makers, as innovators. The finance industry needs to forswear short-term profit chasing and take the long view in the interests of the planet and future generations.”

Meanwhile, Helga Birgden, global business leader for responsible investment at Mercer, told the forum the firm's own research suggested that investing with climate change goals in mind "can help enhance portfolio returns" for investment managers.


“Our current rate of emissions fuelling global warming could put us beyond a temperature that humans have never experienced within the next 30 years,” she said. “Going forward, we will need to invest more in, for example, sustainable infrastructure, energy efficiency, pollution control, sustainable agriculture and timber.’’

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last October that the world had only about a dozen years to keep global temperatures to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

While the 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep temperature increases between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees Celsius, Mrs Robinson said the world was not on course.

“We are not moving to a safe world. We’re moving towards a 3.5 or 4 degrees world which will be catastrophic,” she said.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times