Thirty-nine percent of Americans may not believe in climate change but six of America’s largest banks beg to differ with them. Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo released a joint statement on September 28, 2015 “In support of prosperity and growth: Financial sector statement on climate change” urging a “strong global climate agreement” as well as business investment to effectively deal with climate change. The statement can be accessed here: http://www.ceres.org/files/bank-statement-on-climate-policy
The statement comes in anticipation of the United Nations talks slated for November 30 – December 11, 2015. Though little headway has reportedly been made in the years since the talks began, the United Nations are scheduled to finalize a global treaty on climate change at the Paris talks. One encouraging development is the historic November 2014 agreement between the United States and China to reduce emissions of heat-trapped gasses.
The banks maintain that putting a price on carbon emissions is vital to increasing investment in sustainable energy. With the proper backing, the approximately $90 trillion in investments in urban infrastructure and energy over the next 15 years can support reduction rather than increase of carbon emissions.
The strong global climate change agreement sought by the banks has two major obstacles. First, a number of developing nations, such as India, are reluctant to effectively address climate change. Developing and developed nations disagree about carrying the burden of sustainability: developing countries believe that richer, developed countries (such as the U. S., of course), should lead and assist poorer countries; developed countries argue that developing countries to set high sustainability goals for themselves. Secondly, the upcoming American political primaries can erode support for the banks’ position. Politicians must appeal to their political base, winning primaries in order to advance to general elections, and a number of Republican politicians face tough challenges from tea-party-type constituents and candidates, who deny the very existence of climate change.
Despite the obvious difficulties going forward, the endorsement of six major players in the world’s financial market should carry some weight in the primaries as well as the U. N. Paris talks.
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