11/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

13 Trillion Reasons to Deal with Climate Change

The world's largest global investors met in New York yesterday and called on government leaders to sign an ambitious, fair and binding deal at the Copenhagen climate change summit being held later this year. 

Hosted by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the all-day International Investor Forum on Climate Change brought together 181 of the worlds largest investors as well as leading thinkers on the economy and climate change, including former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern. Together these investors manage over $13 trillion in assets. When you consider that the Gross World Product is around $69 trillion you get an idea of just how powerful this group is.

The forum issued a statement calling on world leaders (PDF) to deal with the issue of climate change now or face a world of economic uncertainty and environmental undoing. Namely they called for leaders to sign an aggressive and binding deal at the upcoming world climate change summit in Copenhagen.

"We must chart a new course toward long-term, sustainable business practices," said DiNapoli, head of the $116.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. "We cannot drag our feet on the issue of global climate change. I am deeply concerned about the investor risks climate change presents, and the human cost of inaction is unthinkable. As investors in the global economy, we can lead the way toward a future of lasting prosperity."

One of the biggest issues for these investors is certainty or in this case the lack of certainty created by climate change.

In order to make multi-billion dollar investments in corporations, investors need to have a good idea of what the world is going to look like in 10, 20, 50 years from now and then factor any potential negative consequences into their investment decisions. Climate change offers up a lot of uncertainty in the near and long-term and the Investor Forum joint statement doesn't mince words on this point: "A long-term global target for greenhouse gas emission reductions is essential to give investors confidence about the future direction of climate policy. Investment decision-making is hampered by policy uncertainty and the absence of a binding reduction target."

Government leaders of the world can minimize this uncertainty by enacting an ambitious, fair and binding climate change legislation domestically and then agree to a similar treaty at the upcoming talks in Copenhagen. If they do they will reap the economic rewards that come from creating a stable long-term investment environment: "PSEG stands ready to invest in clean energy technologies and create green jobs," said Ralph Izzo, president, chairman and CEO at Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc. (PSEG). "However, strong climate policies at the national level - aligned with international commitments - are essential to successfully address the climate challenge.  This includes establishing a price on carbon that will afford businesses the certainty they need to invest in a new green energy economy."

Sounds pretty straightforward, at least it does to me. But you know how politicians can be, so take a minute and send this article on to your local representative and ask them to be the leader you voted for them to be.