19 March 2007

Global Climate Change: Investors Press Congress in Wake of Warmest Winter

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reported last Thursday that the combined global land and ocean surface temperature from December through February was the highest since records began in 1880. January's record warmth was primarily responsible for putting the combined winter temperature over the top.

Sources at NOAA confirm that the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1995. After this winter, the next-warmest was in 2004, and the third was in 1998.

The combined temperature for the December-February period was more than 1 degree Fahrenheit above the mean 20th century temperature.

Such warming trends are heating up the debate around mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cuts and increasing the anxiety among investors, as we've reported in The Green Skeptic before. Some don't want their investments to be blind-sided by regulations that may be on the horizon, while other investors see opportunities developing in clean-tech and alternative energy.

Today, dozens of institutional investors, including Merrill Lynch, The Capital Group, and the largest US pension fund, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) are calling on Congress to adopt strong legislation with tangible greenhouse gas reduction targets, according to Ceres, the coalition of investors and environmentalists.

The coalition asserts that setting mandatory emissions cuts will give investors confidence to invest more in low-carbon technologies, and other so called "clean tech" alternatives.

Cuts could also stimulate a cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gases, which investors see as an opportunity just waiting to be developed.

Last January, 10 companies that would find themselves regulated under such legislation, including Duke Energy Corp. and General Electric Co., called on Congress and President Bush to set a national limit on emissions that could potentially lead to as much as a 30 percent reductions over the next 15 years.

Investments in the clean tech category are showing signs of strength. In February, the Cleantech Venture Network reported that North American and European venture capital investment in totaled a record US$3.6 billion for 2006. This was a 45 percent increase over 2005 (US$2.5 billion) and double the 2004 investment of US$1.7 billion.

Companies asking to be regulated, hungry investors smelling opportunity, and venture capitalists willing to sink serious money into the arena. Clearly it's time to adopt mandatory cuts and stimulate this investment climate.

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