31 Oct 2019

Climate change a financial and investment risk - report

8:03 am on 31 October 2019

A report from a group of business leaders has found climate change has become a financial and investment risk, which requires strong leadership and urgent attention.

The pipe of a coal power plant with white smoke as a global warming concept.

Photo: 123RF

The Aotearoa Circle's Sustainable Finance Forum is made up of public and private sector leaders, committed to sustainable prosperity by reversing the decline of New Zealand's natural resources.

The forum's interim report set out the considerable financial risk to industry and government, where climate change was concerned, and included a legal opinion from Circle partner Chapman Tripp, which clarified the legal obligations directors and fund managers have to account for climate change in their decision-making.

Co-chair Matthew Whineray, who is also the chief executive of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, said New Zealand's sustainable finance agenda was running in parallel with Australia's, but was behind other jurisdictions.

"Both countries, however, trail Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, who have begun designing and implementing roadmaps to sustainable financial systems," he said.

"There is significant global momentum around this shift. If large existing capital bases do not direct finance towards more sustainable investments, the outcomes being sought for people and the planet will have little chance of being realised."

Aotearoa Circle chair Sir Rob Fenwick said the interim report set out various options for sustainable investment, and would be followed next year with a final report that set out a roadmap for investment that supports a sustainable economy through to 2030.

"The financial system is the engine of the economy and we need to scale up and re-direct capital to enable the transition to a sustainable economy," Sir Rob said.