Climate change is an “unhedgeable” risk that could ripple quickly through global financial markets if investors’ opinions of that risk suddenly shift, a working paper by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership suggested last week.
“Short-term shifts in market sentiment induced by awareness of future, as yet unrealized, climate risks could lead to economic shocks, causing substantial losses in financial portfolio value within time scales that are relevant to all investors,” the paper states. “Factors including climate change policy, technological change, asset stranding, weather events, and longer-term physical impacts may lead to financial tipping points for which investors are not presently prepared.”
“Such a short-term shift and the sell-off to follow could cost investors worldwide up to 45% of their portfolios’ value and would be difficult to guard against, or hedge,” ClimateWire reports.
“This new research indicates that no investor is immune from risks posed by climate change, even in the short run,” said report co-author Jake Reynolds. “”Almost half the risk is ‘unhedgeable’, in the sense that it cannot be addressed by individual investors,” added another co-author, Scott Kelly. “System-wide action is necessary to deal with this in the long-term interests of savers.”