• Atmospheric CO2 /Parts per Million /Annual Averages /Data Source: noaa.gov

  • 1980338.91ppm

  • 1981340.11ppm

  • 1982340.86ppm

  • 1983342.53ppm

  • 1984344.07ppm

  • 1985345.54ppm

  • 1986346.97ppm

  • 1987348.68ppm

  • 1988351.16ppm

  • 1989352.78ppm

  • 1990354.05ppm

  • 1991355.39ppm

  • 1992356.1ppm

  • 1993356.83ppm

  • 1994358.33ppm

  • 1995360.18ppm

  • 1996361.93ppm

  • 1997363.04ppm

  • 1998365.7ppm

  • 1999367.8ppm

  • 2000368.97ppm

  • 2001370.57ppm

  • 2002372.59ppm

  • 2003375.14ppm

  • 2004376.96ppm

  • 2005378.97ppm

  • 2006381.13ppm

  • 2007382.9ppm

  • 2008385.01ppm

  • 2009386.5ppm

  • 2010388.76ppm

  • 2011390.63ppm

  • 2012392.65ppm

  • 2013395.39ppm

  • 2014397.34ppm

  • 2015399.65ppm

  • 2016403.09ppm

  • 2017405.22ppm

  • 2018407.62ppm

  • 2019410.07ppm

  • 2020412.44ppm

  • 2021414.72ppm

  • 2022418.56ppm

  • 2023421.08ppm


USS and University of Exeter call for ‘radical shift’ in measuring climate risk

USS, the UK’s largest pension scheme and the University of Exeter have called for a “radical and urgent” shift in climate scenario modelling.

Researchers and investors at USS argued that most current scenarios underestimate both the economic damages of climate change and the potential benefits of taking action.

In a report,“No time to lose”, researchers outlined four new climate scenarios aimed at presenting shorter term and more realistic horizons to inform investment decision making.

Mark Cliffe, University of Exeter Visiting Fellow and lead author, outlined that a failure to tackle climate change would in turn also mean that corproate net zero targets currently in place are not realistic.

“Many organisations, not least in the investment community, are committed to playing their part in halving global greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade. It is disturbing that only in the most optimistic of our four scenarios does this look to be plausible. We have no time to lose.”

Roaring 20s or global meltdown?

In the best case, the “roaring 20s” scenario, proactive climate policies and dynamic markets create powerful positive feedback loops. More extreme weather events could focus minds and create a sense of global solidarity to tackle climate change.

A second scenario, “Green Phoenix” assumes that climate action is initially upended by stagflation, the geo-political fallout of a stalemate in Ukraine and badly-handled weather shocks. But as popular anger builds and civil society gradually emboldens more enlightened businesses and local governments step up and roll out mature green technologies, but progress is patchy and erratic

Third, in the event of a “boom and bust scenario” a sharp rise in fossil fuel prices driven by a resurgence of economic growth could spark policy action backing more investment in renewable energy and a just green transition.

Fourth, a meltdown scenario warns that climate change policy could become a casualty of mounting geopolitical tensions. This in turn could feed into extreme weather events being badly handled, triggering famines, mass migration and political instability.

Finance impact

While climate scenarios as such are not unusual, the report stands out for factoring in their impact on the short term, outlining how climate change could affect politics and finance over remainder of the decade.

In the event of a roaring 20’s scenario, green funds would unsurprisingly witness a surge in inflows, another key beneficiary would be emerging markets, which would benefit from a sharp rise in foreign direct investment and more favourable lending conditions to fund the transition to net zero.

Conversely, in a meltdown scenario, emerging markets could be hardest hit and witness capital outflows combined with a rise in borrowing costs, leading to more sovereign debt defaults. Chinese debt in particular could become increasingly unsustainable.

Mirko Cardinale, head of investment strategy and Advice emphasised that the outcomes of this research will have a tangible impact on USS’ investment strategy: “Moving forward, we intend to develop a long-term investment outlook informed by the scenarios and draw out investment implications for capital markets expectations, top down portfolio construction, and country/sector preferences" he explained. 

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