Climate change has already become one of the most prominent line items on the world’s agenda. But we believe that its impact on the global macroeconomy is just beginning and increasing in pace. In our view, investors should think of the transition to a low-carbon economy as a multi-dimensional shock event, spread out over time, that will have major regulatory and economic consequences and profound investment implications. Investors who think the pace of climate-related change in markets/economies will be slow could be in for a major surprise.
A Stronger and Faster Transition
Recent events, country-specific incentives, and multiple positive feedback loops are setting the stage for faster movement toward decarbonization in 2022 and beyond.
First, COP26 highlighted the urgency of global action. Under the Paris Agreement in 2015, nearly every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees. However, data shows that the targets that countries announced in Paris do not remotely reach that goal. COP26, which was seen as an opportunity for countries to make more aggressive targets, resulted in a wide range of outcomes. (For more of our thinking on the ramifications of COP26, see Post COP26: Outcomes and Opportunities.)
Second, we note that decarbonization has second-order effects that could drive heavier participation from developed and emerging markets. For example, geopolitical superpowers (the US, China, and Europe) are incentivized to stay on top of the race to become a climate leader because the transformation to a low-carbon economy will come with enormous opportunities (similar to other disruptive shifts, like digitalization). India is seeking to become a global power, but it is also the third-largest emitter behind China and the US (see Figure 1). India’s pledges made at COP26 are less aggressive than those of other countries, but the fact that India made a net-zero pledge is still a significant development. Also, most developed market economies are net energy importers under the current fossil fuel regime. Decarbonization could therefore improve the balance of trade for these nations (see Figure 2).
Figure 1: India Represents an Opportunity for Increased Decarbonization
Figure 2: Decarbonization Could Improve the Balance of Trade
Finally, positive feedback loops underpinned by innovation will likely lead to a mass displacement of fossil fuels by renewables — potentially much more quickly than many would anticipate. These loops include:
The volume-cost feedback loop. As renewable energy volumes rise, costs for businesses and consumers fall, which then spurs more volumes. On the flip side, falling fossil volumes mean lower utilization rates, which increase fossil fuel costs and drive down demand. Capital spending by the incumbent energy sector has already started to drift lower — even as crude oil prices have ticked higher — as oil and gas companies have reduced spending on petroleum.
The technology feedback loop. As more electric vehicles come on the road, battery costs decline, which then increases renewable penetration. By contrast, peaking fossil fuel demand means a collapse in the innovation of fossil fuel-based technologies.
The expectations feedback loop. As demand for renewable energy continues to grow, oil and gas incumbent earnings and operational forecasts will look less credible. As traditional energy companies’ models change, so too do the perceptions of investors and policymakers, driving price movement and revised expectations.
The finance feedback loop. As growth in renewable demand leads to more capital contribution from investors, the cost of capital for renewable energy companies falls, enabling even more expansion. In contrast, the greener economy will force fossil fuel companies to face higher costs of financing. Note, for example, that an annual $1 trillion in green bond issuance is expected by 2023, versus $228 billion in the first half of 2021, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative.1
In addition, the broader society feedback loop, the politics feedback loop, and the geopolitics feedback loop will further accelerate this transformation. As society becomes more concerned with the climate crisis and comes to better understand the financial benefits of renewable technology, people will likely change their behavior. Politicians in turn will likely realize that renewables can generate more “gain” than “pain” (see Figure 3), and geopolitical superpowers may see similar opportunities, leading to a race of one-upmanship that accelerates the movement toward decarbonization. (For more details, see Spiralling Disruption: The Feedback Loops of the Energy Transition.)
Figure 3: Job Generation from Renewables Could Move Policy Agendas
(Solar Jobs, Millions)
Implications for Investors
While we have already seen long-term investment move away from the incumbent energy sector, we know that most diversified investors still have significant exposure to fossil fuels via various value chains, both in the equity and fixed income markets. To manage the climate transition, investors should consider the following:
The need to obtain clarity regarding their exposure to the fossil fuel sector and the associated risks. A massive economic depreciation exercise for carbon-heavy assets, alongside an appreciation exercise for carbon-neutral assets, is looming, and this situation will present risks as well as opportunities. Investors with a solid understanding of the regulatory and economic implications of the transition to a low-carbon economy can build more resilient portfolios and take advantage of these opportunities. Portfolio analysis using forward-looking climate metrics is a key element of this process, so finding the correct analytical tools regarding transition forecasts and physical risk models is crucial for investors.
The consequences of regulatory change — better disclosure and new financial models with which to integrate changing ESG criteria. The IFRS Foundation announcement regarding the establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is an important step in the quest for better ESG disclosure. The inclusion of carbon pricing into equities-market valuations still poses modelling challenges for investors, and pricing considerations will have implications on valuations and credit analysis.
The effect of decarbonization on corporate earnings. Government fiscal policies to help build sustainable economies could also lead to company balance sheet damage from tax increases, even if these tax hikes are shared with households. In addition, decarbonization is a structural inflation driver for economies, as the inputs and technologies for sustainable businesses are still in their infancy. This could hit carbon-intensive sectors particularly hard. On the positive side, investors could benefit from opportunities in green technology such as low-carbon steel and cement, carbon offset technologies, and biofuels (just to name a few). Investors could also benefit from the pairing of greening and digitization, with an expected acceleration in software and artificial intelligence (AI) related to climate change.
Investors are facing a potentially parabolic rise in climate awareness in coming years, and positioning for this reality is prudent for portfolio management. The drivers of increasing interest in decarbonization include the outcomes of COP26 and many positive feedback loops that will push climate even more to the forefront. Investors will likely benefit from greater disclosure requirements, but they will also need to effectively integrate climate risks and opportunities into financial models and deeply understand their carbon exposure.
Encouragingly, results from our recent global ESG survey of 300 institutional investors showed that most investors plan to implement decarbonization targets over the next three years (i.e., 71% in Europe, 70% in Asia Pacific, and 61% in North America). Investors plan to use a wide range of asset classes to express their climate targets and, in a change from our prior survey,2 they cite their responsibilities to drive the economic transition and to help to solve the global climate crisis as their top two reasons for pursuing climate investment strategies. These survey responses could imply that many market participants understand the expected acceleration in decarbonization, but they also show investor momentum — yet another potential driver of climate-related market movement. In sum, we believe that preparation for this shifting landscape is key.
1Jones, Liam. 2021 Green Forecast Updated to Half a Trillion – Latest H1 Figures Signal New Surge in Global Green, Social & Sustainability Investment. Climate Bonds Initiative, as of August 31, 2021. 2 State Street Global Advisors, Into the Mainstream: ESG at the Tipping Point (November 2019).
Marketing Communication. For professional clients use only.
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For Investors in Austria: The offering of SPDR ETFs by the Company has been notified to the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) in accordance with section 139 of the Austrian Investment Funds Act. Prospective investors may obtain the current sales Prospectus, the articles of incorporation, the KIID as well as the latest annual and semi-annual report free of charge from State Street Global Advisors Europe Limited, Branch in Germany, Brienner Strasse 59, D-80333 Munich. T: +49 (0)89-55878-400.F: +49 (0)89-55878-440.
For Investors in Finland: The offering of funds by the Companies has been notified to the Financial Supervision Authority in accordance with Section 127 of the Act on Common Funds (29.1.1999/48) and by virtue of confirmation from the Financial Supervision Authority the Companies may publicly distribute their Shares in Finland. Certain information and documents that the Companies must publish in Ireland pursuant to applicable Irish law are translated into Finnish and are available for Finnish investors by contacting State Street Custodial Services (Ireland) Limited, 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland.
For Investors in France: This document does not constitute an offer or request to purchase shares in the Company. Any subscription for shares shall be made in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in the complete Prospectus, the KIID, the addenda as well as the Company Supplements. These documents are available from the Company centralizing correspondent: State Street Banque S.A., Coeur Défense - Tour A - La Défense 4 33e étage 100, Esplanade du Général de Gaulle 92 931 Paris La Défense cedex France or on the French part of the site ssga.com/etfs. The Company is an undertaking for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) governed by Irish law and accredited by the Central Bank of Ireland as a UCITS in accordance with European Regulations. European Directive no. 2014/91/EU dated 23 July 2014 on UCITS, as amended, established common rules pursuant to the cross-border marketing of UCITS with which they duly comply. This common base does not exclude differentiated implementation. This is why a European UCITS can be sold in France even though its activity does not comply with rules identical to those governing the approval of this type of product in France.The offering of these compartments has been notified to the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) in accordance with article L214-2-2 of the French Monetary and Financial Code.
For Investors in Germany: The offering of SPDR ETFs by the Companies has been notified to the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin) in accordance with section 312 of the German Investment Act. Prospective investors may obtain the current sales Prospectuses, the articles of incorporation, the KIIDs as well as the latest annual and semi-annual report free of charge from State Street Global Advisors Europe Limited, Branch in Germany, Brienner Strasse 59, D-80333 Munich. Telephone: +49 (0)89-55878-400. Facsimile: +49 (0)89-55878-440.
Ireland: State Street Global Advisors Europe Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered office address 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. Registered Number: 49934. T: +353 (0)1 776 3000. F: +353 (0)1 776 3300.
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For Investors in Italy: State Street Global Advisors Europe Limited, Italy Branch (“State Street Global Advisors Italy”) is a branch of State Street Global Advisors Europe Limited, registered in Ireland with company number 49934, authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and whose registered office is at 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. State Street Global Advisors Italy is registered in Italy with company number 11871450968 - REA: 2628603 and VAT number 11871450968, and its office is located at Via Ferrante Aporti, 10 - 20125 Milan, Italy. T: +39 02 32066 100. F: +39 02 32066 155.
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For Investors in the Netherlands: This communication is directed at qualified investors within the meaning of Section 2:72 of the Dutch Financial Markets Supervision Act (Wet op het financieel toezicht) as amended. The products and services to which this communication relates are only available to such persons and persons of any other description should not rely on this communication. Distribution of this document does not trigger a licence requirement for the Companies or SSGA in the Netherlands and consequently no prudential and conduct of business supervision will be exercised over the Companies or SSGA by the Dutch Central Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank N.V.) and the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (Stichting Autoriteit Financiële Markten). The Companies have completed their notification to the Authority Financial Markets in the Netherlands in order to market their shares for sale to the public in the Netherlands and the Companies are, accordingly, investment institutions (beleggingsinstellingen) according to Section 2:72 Dutch Financial Markets Supervision Act of Investment Institutions.
For Investors in Norway: The offering of SPDR ETFs by the Companies has been notified to the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet) in accordance with applicable Norwegian Securities Funds legislation. By virtue of a confirmation letter from the Financial Supervisory Authority dated 28 March 2013 (16 October 2013 for umbrella II) the Companies may market and sell their shares in Norway.
For Investors in Spain: State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs Europe I and II plc have been authorised for public distribution in Spain and are registered with the Spanish Securities Market Commission (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores) under no.1244 and no.1242. Before investing, investors may obtain a copy of the Prospectus and Key Investor Information Documents, the Marketing Memoranda, the fund rules or instruments of incorporation as well as the annual and semi-annual reports of State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs Europe I and II plc from Cecabank, S.A. Alcalá 27, 28014 Madrid (Spain) who is the Spanish Representative, Paying Agent and distributor in Spain or at spdrs.com. The authorised Spanish distributor of State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs is available on the website of the Securities Market Commission (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores).
For Investors in Switzerland: The collective investment schemes referred to herein are collective investment schemes under Irish law. Prospective investors may obtain the current sales prospectus, the articles of incorporation, the KIID as well as the latest annual and semi-annual reports free of charge from the Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, State Street Bank International GmbH, Munich, Zurich Branch, Beethovenstr. 19, 8027 Zurich, as well as from the main distributor in Switzerland, State Street Global Advisors AG, Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich. Before investing please read the prospectus and the KIID, copies of which can be obtained from the Swiss representative, or at ssga.com.
For Investors in United Kingdom: The Funds have been registered for distribution in the UK pursuant to the UK’s temporary permissions regime under regulation 62 of the Collective Investment Schemes (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. The Funds are directed at 'professional clients' in the UK (as defined in rules made under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000) who are deemed both knowledgeable and experienced in matters relating to investments. The products and services to which this communication relates are only available to such persons and persons of any other description should not rely on this communication. Many of the protections provided by the UK regulatory system do not apply to the operation of the Funds, and compensation will not be available under the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
This document has been issued by State Street Global Advisors Europe Limited (“SSGAEL”), regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered office address 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. Registered number 145221. T: +353 (0)1 776 3000. Fax: +353 (0)1 776 3300. Web: ssga.com.
SPDR ETFs is the exchange traded funds (“ETF”) platform of State Street Global Advisors and is comprised of funds that have been authorised by Central Bank of Ireland as open-ended UCITS investment companies.
State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs Europe I & II plc issue SPDR ETFs, and is an open-ended investment company with variable capital having segregated liability between its sub-funds. The Company is organised as an Undertaking for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities (UCITS) under the laws of Ireland and authorised as a UCITS by the Central Bank of Ireland.
ETFs trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk and will fluctuate in market value. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate in value, so that when shares are sold or redeemed, they may be worth more or less than when they were purchased. Although shares may be bought or sold on an exchange through any brokerage account, shares are not individually redeemable from the fund. Investors may acquire shares and tender them for redemption through the fund in large aggregations known as “creation units.” Please see the fund’s prospectus for more details.
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Please refer to the Fund’s latest Key Investor Information Document and Prospectus before making any final investment decision. The latest English version of the prospectus and the KIID can be found at ssga.com.
ETFs trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk, fluctuate in market value and may trade at prices above or below the ETFs net asset value. Brokerage commissions and ETF expenses will reduce returns.
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SPDR ETFs may be offered and sold only in those jurisdictions where authorised, in compliance with applicable regulations.
Information related to Mexico
This information does not constitute and is not intended to constitute marketing or an offer of securities and accordingly should not be construed as such. The Funds referenced herein have not been, and will not be, registered under the Mexican Securities Market Law (Ley del Mercado de Valores) and may not be publicly offered or sold in the United Mexican States. Disclosure documentation related to any of the aforementioned Funds may not be distributed publicly in Mexico and shares of the Funds may not be traded in Mexico.
UCITS SPDR ETFs
SPDR ETFs Europe I Plc and SSGA SPDR ETFs Europe II Plc issue SPDR ETFs, and are an open-ended investment company with variable capital having segregated liability between its sub-funds. The Company is organised as an Undertaking for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities (UCITS) under the laws of Ireland and authorised as a UCITS by the Central Bank of Ireland.
This website is directed at Qualified Investors only, as defined by Article 10(3) and (3ter) of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (“CISA”) and its implementing ordinance. Certain funds may not be registered for public distribution with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), which acts as supervisory authority in investment fund matters, or may not have appointed a Swiss Representative and Paying Agent. For those funds which have appointed a Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, the prospectus, the articles of incorporation, the Key Investor Information Document (KIID) as well as the latest annual and semi-annual reports may be obtained free of charge from the Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, State Street Bank International GmbH, Munich, Zurich Branch, Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich, or at www.ssga.com, as well as from the main distributor in Switzerland, State Street Global Advisors AG (“SSGA AG”), Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich. For those funds which have not appointed a Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, please observe that the funds are open to Qualified Investors at the exclusion of Qualified Investors with an opting-out pursuant to Art. 5(1) of the Swiss Federal Law on Financial Services ("FinSA") and without any portfolio management or advisory relationship with a financial intermediary pursuant to Article 10(3ter) CISA (“Excluded Qualified Investors”). For further information and fund documents please contact SSGA AG.
You should obtain and read the SPDR prospectus and relevant Key Investor Information Document (KIID) prior to investing, which may be obtained by clicking here. These include further details relating to the SPDR funds, including information relating to costs, risks and where the funds are authorised for sale.
US SPDR ETFs
The distribution of interests of U.S. SPDR ETFs in Switzerland will be exclusively made to, and directed at, Qualified Investors only, as defined by Article 10(3) and (3ter) of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act (“CISA”) and its implementing ordinance. Accordingly, U.S. SPDR ETFs are not registered for public distribution with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority ("FINMA"). Certain funds may not have appointed a Swiss Representative and Paying Agent. For those funds with a Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, the legal documents of the U.S. SPDR ETFs may be obtained free of charge from the Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, State Street Bank International GmbH, Munich, Zurich Branch, Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich, or at www.ssga.com, as well as from the main distributor in Switzerland, State Street Global Advisors AG (“SSGA AG”), Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich. For those funds without Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, please observe that the funds are open to Qualified Investors at the exclusion of Qualified Investors with an opting-out pursuant to Art. 5(1) of the Swiss Federal Law on Financial Services ("FinSA") and without any portfolio management or advisory relationship with a financial intermediary pursuant to Article 10(3ter) CISA (“Excluded Qualified Investors”). For further information and fund documents please contact SSGA AG.
Before investing, consider the funds' investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. To obtain a prospectus which contains this and other information, download a prospectus here, or talk to your financial advisor. Read it carefully before investing.