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Bank of England's Carney warns business moving too slowly on climate change

By Don Jacobson

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The world's financial community is moving too slowly on climate change, endangering both the environment and their investors' assets, outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Monday.

In an interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4, the Bank of England chief said that while financiers and business are starting to take what he called "the climate crisis" more seriously, it's not happening fast enough, with current investment patterns still pushing the world toward potentially disastrous levels of global temperature rise.

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What a Bank of England analysis revealed, he said, "is that if you add up the policies of all of companies out there, they are consistent with warming of 3.7 to 3.8 degrees Celsius," which, he added, is "far above the 1.5 degrees that the people say they want and governments are demanding."

A scientific report commissioned by the World Bank has warned that at 4 degrees, global temperature rise would trigger "a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people."

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Carney said the temptation is to go slow because the effects of the current climate crisis are not as visible as were the immediate consequences of the 2008-09 financial crisis.

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"The concern," he said, "is whether we will spend another decade doing worthy things but not enough ... and we will blow through the 1.5-degree mark very quickly. As a consequence, the climate will stabilize at the much higher level."

If not for environmental reasons alone, Carney said, financiers need to think about how climate change is affecting the value of the fossil fuel assets they are steering investors into.

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"If we were to burn all those oil and gas [reserves], there's no way we would meet carbon budget," he said. "Up to 80 percent of coal assets will be stranded, (and) up to half of developed oil reserves.

"A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund or insurer: What's your plan?"

Carney is stepping down from the Bank of England after this year to become a United Nations special envoy for climate change and finance.

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