Wall Street is returning to climate talks that it largely snubbed last year, as the United Arab Emirates steps into the role of host.
(Bloomberg) — Wall Street is returning to climate talks that it largely snubbed last year, as the United Arab Emirates steps into the role of host.
BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink is among a string of finance heavyweights planning to attend the COP28 summit in Dubai that starts next month, according to people familiar with the plans who asked not to be identified discussing non-public information.
After skipping climate talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Wall Street executives are now lining up to join what looks set to be one of the most finance-heavy COP summits ever held. The event will take place against a backdrop of ongoing Republican attacks on ESG, and an increasingly tense geopolitical environment in the Middle East. This year’s COP also coincides with a doubling down by oil majors such as Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. on their core strategies to continue drilling for oil and gas.
The summit’s host will be Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of state-backed Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. He’s spoken of an “inevitable” phase-down of fossil fuels, but has failed to put a date on a total phase-out.
A spokesperson for BlackRock declined to comment.
Explaining the COP28 Summit:
COP stands for Conference of the Parties and is an annual summit convened by the United Nations.
States that have signed the major climate accords including the Paris agreement are expected to show up and provide status reports.
This year’s COP will bring to an end the so-called global stock take that started in 2021 at the GOP26 in Glasgow.
Fink, who is on the COP28 advisory committee, will be joined by a growing list of finance executives that includes C. S. Venkatakrishnan of Barclays Plc and Bill Winters of Standard Chartered Plc, according to spokespeople for the firms. Citigroup Inc. is planning to send a delegation, while a number of major Wall Street banks have indicated to Bloomberg that their CEOs are likely to attend.
Read More: HSBC Boss Finds Himself on His Own as Big-Bank Peers Skip COP27
The other major industry expected to show up in force at the Dubai summit is oil. A spokesperson for COP28 didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story. Representatives for the summit have previously said that tackling the climate crisis requires bringing in a wide variety of stakeholders. Meanwhile, the UAE is fast becoming a hub for a number of high-profile hedge fund managers seeking opportunities in the oil-rich Gulf state.
The COP28 setup has drawn fury from climate activists who point to the host’s goal of stepping up its fossil fuel capacity. Adnoc, which is the United Arab Emirate’s biggest oil producer, says it can raise production and cut emissions at the same time by investing in carbon capture technology that’s yet to make a meaningful reduction in planet-warming emissions.
The International Energy Agency has made clear since 2021 that the goals of the Paris climate accord will only be reached if no new oil and gas projects are financed.
Al Jaber has emphasized another IEA statistic, namely that the world needs to triple the deployment of renewable energy. It’s a focus that banks and asset managers are keen to monetize.
James Keenan, chief investment officer and global head of private debt for BlackRock, has said that climate strategies represent “one of several mega forces driving investment opportunities.”
And BlackRock has been adding to the number of climate strategies it offers. It recently launched a private credit fund that will feed into a climate transition platform worth more than $100 billion. The asset manager also is behind six of the 10 largest climate funds registered in Europe which, as a region, accounts for 84% of the global total, according to data provided by Morningstar Inc.
A key focus of this year’s COP will be getting private finance to help provide the money needed to protect poor countries from the fallout of climate change. The United Nations Environment Programme said last year that developing nations will need between $315 billion and $565 billion by mid-century annually to cope.
That’s still considerably less than is currently handed to the oil, gas and coal industries. Last year, $7 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies, globally, went to the fossil fuel industry, according to the International Monetary Fund.
BloombergNEF estimates that in order for the planet to limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the ratio of green to fossil finance needs to be four to one. At the moment, it’s closer to one-to-one.
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