For richer or poorer: coronavirus, cheap oil test climate vows – by Ross Kerber, Matthew Green and Simon Jessop (Reuters U.S. – March 12, 2020)

BOSTON/LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change commitments by banks, pension funds and asset managers face their first major test as markets reel from the twin shocks of coronavirus and a sliding oil price.

The challenge looks formidable. When the 2008 financial crisis tipped the world into recession, carbon emissions fell. But as economies grew again, governments proved unable to halt an emissions rebound.

The issue now is that at a crucial moment for international negotiations, the latest global economic blow could put paid to costly ideas for slowing climate change from political leaders and the private sector alike.

“When things are more difficult then people are really going to be focused on financial performance,” Hester Peirce, a Republican member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Monday as world markets dived.

This time around, money managers interviewed by Reuters say a growing recognition of the prospect of massive disruption, underscored by Australia’s bushfires, has permanently shifted the dial and put environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues front and center.

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