• 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

Scottish Widows' Maria Nazarova-Doyle steps into the debate
News & Views

Post Paris: Investors divided on 1.5°C target

With the world on track to miss the targets set in the Paris agreement, investors are divided on how to benchmark their progress on climate change

Content Tags: Policy  Paris Alignment  UK 

With global temperatures rising, the world could be exceeding the 1.5°C threshold within the next four years, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. As the earth's temperature is on track to pass the limits set by the Paris agreement, what are the implications for investors looking to conform their portfolios with the 1.5° target?

Investors  are increasingly divided whether the target has become redundant or remains a useful guideline, as a debate at the Oxford Sustainable Finance Forum revealed. The event was held at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, a building designed by Christopher Wren and once the setting for a debate on the existence of God himself.

A moving target

Nathan Fabian, chief sustainable systems officer at the UN PRI, claimed that belief in the Paris Agreement targets of keeping global warming “significantly below” a 1.5 °C increase from pre-industrial levels was essential, as was understanding the role of the finance industry in this drive.

“1.5°C is alive by virtue of what it is; a segment and benchmark for all of our efforts on climate change communication. Secondly, finance is part of society and trying to isolate praise or blame in a shared action problem misses the point”, he said.

But earlier in the summit, Fabian had also acknowledged that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) will require "careful repositioning" amid ongoing challenges.

Focus on net zero

This was challenged  by Maria Nazarova-Doyle, currently head of responsible investments and stewardship at Scottish Widows though soon to depart. She argued against the idea that 1.5°C could be saved with the help of the finance sector. 

“Here in this beautiful echo chamber, I really want to argue with the team supporting this policy. But I can't with good conscience. We saw Alok Sharma cry at the end of COP26, saying 1.5°C is alive but on life support. Unfortunately, it has perished. We now just have to reach net zero as quickly as humanly possible and forget about the actual degrees [of warming].

“[in this room] We're the good guys, right? But there's a much bigger financial ecosystem that are not the good guys. So far, they have distracted us rather than contributing to the efforts that we're trying to achieve”, she said.

The international bodies that originally championed the Paris Agreement are leaning into Doyle’s position. Speaking to the BBC, Bob Watson, former head of the UN climate body, has said he is now “pessimistic” that the 1.5°C target can be achieved.

Institutional step change

The debate also acknowledged the progress that has been made. Tina Mavraki, portfolio director & strategic adviser and chair at climate NGO Chapter Zero, pointed to three areas in which a “step change” has been observed in shifts towards net zero. First in  institutional investors's attitude towards climate change, second, this was reflected in climate’s greater prominence during this AGM season, and also in American banks via federal regulation.

But scientific evidence showed that this progress has been insufficient, argued Brian McBain, senior associate for the Public and Third Sector Academy for Sustainable Finance. McBain pointed to record high temperatures across southern Europe and US states such as Phoenix and Arizona experiencing sustained weeks of plus 40°C during the day combined with record low levels of Antarctic sea ice.

An indication of the shift in sentiment among investors as a poll in the crowd. Being asked whether the 1.5°C target continued to be a useful benchmark, the majority of opponents disagreed. 

With the  1.5°C target being declared dead in the water, investors will now face the challenge of finding a new benchmark their efforts to tackle climate change.  

Content Tags: Policy  Paris Alignment  UK 

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