A handful of international investors linked to economic activities that influence the stability of some of the world’s largest forests and hence the global climate
Financial institutions, such as banks and pension funds, have a key role to play in efforts to avoid dangerous climate change. And it is not only about redirecting investments to renewable energy and low-carbon businesses, but also to bolster the resilience and stability of the Brazilian Amazon and boreal forests in Russia and Canada, two known ‘tipping elements’ in the Earth system. Such tipping elements have also been referred to as ‘sleeping giants’, because once “awakened” they can have pivotal impacts on the global climate by becoming large-scale emitters of carbon dioxide, as opposed to storing carbon in soil and vegetation.
This is the message of a new study published in the latest issue of Global Environmental Change.
“In contrast to standard approaches in green finance, we elaborate the ways in which financial actors are linked to economic activities that modify large ecosystems of key importance for stabilizing the planet’s climate,” explains author Victor Galaz, deputy director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
The article is based on a study done by a team of researchers from the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere programme (GEDB) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, the Australian National University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
“Our research allows us to identify a small set of international financial players who can influence climate stability through their ownership of stock in economic sectors that modify both the Amazon rainforest and boreal forests,” says co-author Beatrice Crona, Executive Director of GEDB and researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre.
These financial institutions are denoted “financial giants” in the new study that also explores how incentives and disincentives currently influence their potential to bolster or undermine the stability of the climate.
Read more about the study on the website of Stockholm Resilience Centre.
From the background data the researchers have also extracted data on Swedish banks and pension funds and their ownership in key companies operating in sectors that influence the forests of the Amazon, Russia and Canada. Read more here (in Swedish).