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Environmental Beta or How Institutional Investors Think about Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Risk
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2019 (English)In: ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF GEOGRAPHERS, ISSN 2469-4452, Vol. 109, no 3, p. 754-774Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

It is widely recognized that to limit the long-term extent of global warming and its socioecological consequences, the world must transition over future decades to a low- or zero-carbon economy. Among the many imponderables relating to this eventual transition is the role of the principal owners of the fossil fuel companies that are primarily responsible for global greenhouse gas emissions-namely, institutional financial investors. The investment behavior of these institutions will substantively shape not only the speed and nature of the economy and society's transition to cleaner energy sources but also the speed and nature of the global financial system's own parallel transition to a low- or zero-carbon world. In the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, governments and regulators around the world are increasingly concerned that the latter transition might represent a major potential source of future financial instability. These authorities are calling on institutional investors to effect an orderly and measured transition by fully recognizing the climate-related risks of investment in fossil fuel companies and pricing these risks appropriately. Yet they are doing so in the absence of informed, up-to-date, and meaningful knowledge of how the investment community actually thinks about climate change and fossil fuel risk. This article maps out the key lineaments of this thinking on the basis of an extensive program of interviews with global investment institutions. Contra government and regulator hopes and expectations, this thinking indicates that fossil fuel investment is set to be a long-term locus of excess, not minimal, financial market volatility: of environmental beta.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD , 2019. Vol. 109, no 3, p. 754-774
Keywords [en]
climate change, financial risk, fossil fuel companies, institutional investors
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-383147DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2018.1489213ISI: 000465043800004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-383147DiVA, id: diva2:1315171
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-01694Available from: 2019-05-13 Created: 2019-05-13 Last updated: 2019-05-13Bibliographically approved

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