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Tackling climate crisis 'enormous opportunity' for investors

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Bill Winters, group chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank. Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Investing in solutions to climate change is “an enormous opportunity and I would say obligation,” according to the chief executive of Standard Chartered (STAN.L) bank.

“This is an enormous opportunity and I would say obligation for the private sector to coalesce around this common theme,” Bill Winters said at a panel at Davos on Wednesday.

Winters cited a report prepared by his own bank estimating that $30tn (£23tn) of private sector capital will be needed to help solve the issue of our warming planet. That creates an opportunity to develop a profitable new market for green investments, he said.

“We know that there’s a dearth of investable assets in the world which is why we have these asset bubbles popping up everywhere,” Winters said. “Here we have the opportunity to create trillions of dollars of assets that are attractive, long-term, matching the demographic profile of our societal liabilities.

“These are projects that should be structured to be profitable for the private sector contributors. I think this can be tackled by the private sector and of course if you’ve got strong government support behind that, that’s an incremental catalyst.”

The climate crisis and how to address it is one of the biggest topics at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting this year, commonly known as Davos. WEF warned ahead of the conference that all of the biggest risks facing the world are environmental-linked and the theme of this year’s gathering is ‘Forging a Sustainable Path towards a Common Future’.

READ MORE: Climate crisis is biggest threat to the planet, warn global elite

Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate campaigner, is one of the highest profile guests at this year’s Davos conference and on Tuesday chided world leaders for their inaction on tackling the warming planet.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said on Tuesday that climate concerns had moved from being a “niche” concern to a “fundamental value driver” in finance.

“With the major investors, this is becoming the question: what’s your plan to get to net zero [carbon emissions]?” Carney said.

Winters said better data was crucial to encourage cash towards green investments.

“It has to do with getting basic measurements, making concrete commitments, and delivering on those commitments, and then marshalling the capital into the projects,” he said.