Mr. Booth from Border to Coast Pensions Partnership agrees. "There is a clear need for a common language for investors to help define climate-related investment strategies, making it easier to assess and compare progress with stronger global data and measurable outcomes," he said.
Navindu Katugampola, global head of sustainability for Morgan Stanley Investment Management in London, with $1.5 trillion under management, is "watching for a few things" to come out of COP26. He notes that while many countries have signed the Paris Agreement, few high-emitting countries have enshrined that into targets known as nationally determined contributions.
"The first thing we are looking for is governments to be more ambitious. A lot of countries made commitments, but it is about formalizing it now," he said.
Over the last five years, commitments to mobilize $100 billion each year to help developing countries combat climate change "have been well short of that mark. We are looking for a renewed sense of purpose from the developed countries," said Mr. Katugampola, who hopes that pledges from the U.S. will be a catalyst to other countries.
While carbon markets received a lot of attention five years ago, he expects a lot of scrutiny of the biggest effort so far, the European Union emissions trading scheme that caps carbon dioxide emissions from companies and creates a market for carbon allowances, among other steps. Particularly with volatile energy prices lately, tougher carbon policy "is going to be challenging," he said.
He does expect to see more private-sector pledges, and after COP26, a recognition that individual sectors may suffer headwinds or benefit from tailwinds. "Who are the winners and losers going to be? It will be really interesting to see … at a more granular level how businesses start to adapt," Mr. Katugampola said.
"It is very easy to throw out pledges. That increasingly isn't passing muster. Over the next few years, the demands from asset managers like us are going to increase. The road map becomes increasingly more important than the overall objective," Mr. Katugampola said.
Mr. Booth of Border to Coast would like more attention paid to realistic short-term goals rather than long-term climate aspirations. "It would be useful to see a granular road map outlined for the next five to 10 years, as well as 2050 targets," he said.
Gordon L. Clark, professorial fellow at Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, thinks that within the financial services industry, "there is a huge appetite for the companies that will make a difference. But 2050 is no longer a reasonable target for controlling emissions. I would like to see an accord that recognizes that 2050 has to be brought forward to 2035. I think that would be a very helpful development," he said.
Whatever concrete steps come out of Glasgow after all the speeches are made, Mr. McNicholas of OMERS is optimistic about COP26. "I am pretty sure it will be a move in the right direction. It just reinforces what we already know, which is that we need to make significant investments in climate solutions."