Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, laid down a challenge to the banking industry during UNEP FI’s recent Europe Roundtable when she joined as a surprise guest via live video conference.

Christiana, who was one of the architects of the Paris Agreement reached at COP21 in 2015, reminded everyone present that, “We have run out of time for anybody at the table to have a you-first attitude”. She emphasized that “by 2020 we have to be able to demonstrate that the world has reached a climate turning point, that we have reverted the tendency of increasing our emissions, to a tendency of decreasing our emissions”. To achieve this, and avoid a 2 degrees scenario, she urged banks to invest a ratio of 2:1 in favour of low-carbon investments over high-carbon investments, with high-carbon ones to be rapidly phased out, and to reach this goal by September 2018 when leaders from governments, cities and businesses around the world meet at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, USA.

She also encouraged banks to look at creating principles for sustainable banking – an option which UNEP FI banking members will be considering as part of a project already underway: a review of the UNEP FI Statement of Commitment.

Watch Christiana’s pre-recorded message, filmed ahead of the conference in the video below.

Read more about the highlights from the Europe Roundtable here.