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Earth Day 2021 commentary by Climate Strategist Lucian Peppelenbos

22 April 2021 - Forty world leaders are gathering on Earth Day at a virtual summit convened by President Biden to discuss global climate action. We expect that renewed ambitions will be announced, as we are in the run-up to the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow taking place in November. In theory, the world has never been this committed to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Over the past year up until now, there has been a true wave of net zero commitments, not only from governments, but also from businesses, investors, universities, cities, and regions. Experts estimate that 60-70% of global greenhouse gas emissions are now subject to a commitment for net zero by 2050.

The key challenge is to turn long-term commitment into immediate action. While we need to decrease greenhouse gas emissions with 50% by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the latest stocktaking by the UN revealed that the climate policies of all national governments will lead to a meager 0.5% reduction by 2030. This means the gap between these two is approximately hundredfold.

Investors are ready for governments to turn commitment into action. Robeco recently published a survey covering 300 large investors representing approximately 20% of global assets. Close to 90% indicate that climate change is or will be central in their investment policies in the next two years. A majority is or will be committing to net zero. And around a quarter are actively decarbonizing their portfolios.

Decisive public policies will accelerate further action from investors and industry. In that way, the gap between ambition and action can quickly be bridged. The biggest risk of climate change is inaction, so let us take all opportunities to act now.

Lucian Peppelenbos, Climate Strategist at Robeco

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