COP21: Global Financial and Energy Markets Face Economic Shift

Dec 14, 2015 5:30 PM ET

COP21: Global Financial and Energy Markets Face Economic Shift

A landmark accord. An historic breakthrough. An unprecedented game changer. Those are some of the terms being used to describe the outcome of COP21, and for once, hyperbole seems appropriate. For the first time, nearly every country in the world has signed on to a universal agreement that commits the global community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.

The Paris deal represents a seismic shift in global economic policy, says The New York Times, “the moment at which the rise in planet-warming carbon emissions that started during the Industrial Revolution began to level out and eventually decline.” For the global financial and energy markets, it’s a strong signal to re-think investments in fossil fuels and double down on zero-carbon energy sources.

A few years ago, all the major oil and gas companies had divisions working with renewables—wind, solar, and hydro power. As oil prices rose, those units—never very large—were phased out. The bottom line, post-COP21? The combination of today’s low oil prices, which continue to fall, and the international agreement to lower GHGs will cause the major companies to consider an historic pivot in their strategies. Remember BP’s bold branding as “Beyond Petroleum”? It may have been just too far ahead of its time. Today, that message seems prophetic. I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

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