By Valerie Volcovici
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Institutional investors managing trillions of dollars should shift their portfolios away from fossil fuel investments toward cleaner energy sources to put a stop to the dangerous rise in global temperatures causing climate change, the United Nations' climate chief said on Wednesday.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told an investors conference at the United Nations that their investment decisions should reflect the latest scientific evidence of dangerous climate change to protect the health and financial savings of ordinary citizens well into the future.
"The pensions, life insurances and nest eggs of billions of ordinary people depend on the long-term security and stability of institutional investment funds," she said in prepared remarks.
"Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to those investments and the wealth of the global economy," Figueres added.
She said the private sector will need to play a crucial role to ensure that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a threshold that UN scientists have said would avoid catastrophic climate change even as nearly 200 countries continue to negotiate a global deal to rein in global greenhouse gas emissions.
"No matter how many efforts we make... that is not enough to put us on track to the 2 degrees," she told a news conference.
The fraught UN climate negotiations have a 2015 deadline to agree in Paris on a global plan to address climate change set after an eleventh-hour agreement at the last UN summit in November in Poland.
The 2015 deal will consist of a patchwork of national plans to curb emissions that could blur a 20-year-old distinction between the obligations of rich and poor nations.
Figueres said she expects the first of the national contributions to trickle in around September, when U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon hosts a United Nations climate change summit that will involve heads of state, business and civil society groups.
She said she is already aware that some countries will need until the first part of 2015 to ready their national plans.
Figueres said the September summit will "prime the pump" for what she hopes will be a successful outcome in Paris in 2015.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Dan Grebler)