The huge reserves of coal, oil and gas held by companies listed in the City of London are "sub-prime" assets posing a systemic risk to economic stability, a high-profile coalition of investors, politicians and scientists has warned Bank of England's governor, Sir Mervyn King.Which more likely means that the agreements are probably not worth the trees that died to publish them.
In an open letter on Thursday, they tell King that the global drive to reduce carbon emissions could mean billions of pounds of fossil fuel reserves will rapidly lose value and cause a "major problem" for institutional investors and pension funds.
At the most recent UN climate change summit in December, 194 of the world's nations agreed to enact legally binding curbs on greenhouse gas emissions within three years to limit global warming to 2C. But meeting this limit would mean just 20% of existing fossil fuel reserves could be burned, according to recent research.
"These high-carbon assets pose significant strategic challenges for the future prosperity of Britain that just can't be ignored," said investment manager James Cameron, who is a member of the prime minister's business advisory group. "Investors continue to pour cash into unsustainable assets without understanding the risks associated with these investments, such as climate change, local pollution, fossil fuel price volatility, political risk and catastrophes such as Deepwater Horizon."
Although the posturing's in the right place, for some of our fearless Leaders anyway, who wax climatological greenness in Inaugural speeches, to the growling of their partisan opponents.
Of course, it appears that some of those minty greens are also heavily invested in that tar sand black gold. But who are you going to believe? Our forward leaning champions, or the Party of Business? Like there's a difference.