Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Principles to guide investment towards a stable climate

Investors will play a major role, whether active or passive, in climate change mitigation. To enable prudent decision-making, we propose three physically based engagement principles that could be used to assess whether an investment is consistent with a long-term climate goal.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Sethi, S. P. & Williams, O. F. Business Soc. Rev. 105, 169–200 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lashgari, M. K. & Gant, D. R. Rev. Soc. Econ. 47, 74–83 (1989).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Adoption of the Paris Agreement FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1 (UNFCCC, 2015).

  4. Covington, H., Thornton, J. & Hepburn, C. Nature 530, 156 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Sectorial Decarbonization Approach (SDA): A Method for Setting Corporate Emission Reduction Targets in Line with Climate Science (Science Based Targets Initiative, 2015).

  6. Matthews, H. D. & Caldeira, K. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L04705 (2008).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Matthews, H. D. & Solomon, S. Science 340, 438–439 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Henley, B. J. & King, A. D. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 4256–4262 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Davis, S. J. & Socolow, R. H. Environ. Res. Lett. 9, 084018 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Shearer, C., Ghio, N., Myllyvirta, L., Yu, A. & Nace, T. Boom and Bust: Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline (CoalSwarm, Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club, 2017).

  11. Kirtman, B. et al. Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) Ch. 11 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).

  12. Working Principles for Investment in Fossil Fuels (Oxford Martin School Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative, 2015).

  13. Business as Usual: Australian Companies Not Planning for Climate Change (Market forces, 2016).

  14. Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, 2017).

  15. Climate Change (BHP Billiton, 2017);

  16. Climate Change: Portfolio Analysis Views After Paris (BHP Billiton, 2016).

  17. Sustainability Report 2017 (BHP Billiton, 2017).

  18. Greenhouse Gases (Unilever, 2017);

  19. Corporate Responsibility Report (Statkraft, 2016).

  20. Climate and Environment (Statkraft, 2016);

Download references


R.J.M., C.H. and M.R.A. would like to acknowledge financial support through the Oxford Martin Net Zero Carbon Investment Initiative. We would like to acknowledge valuable comments and feedback from E. Adlen and R. Rafaty. We are grateful to the participants of two workshops held in mid-2015, the first chaired by M. Smith at the Oxford Martin School and the second by D. Schrag at Harvard University’s Centre for the Environment, which helped inform much of our thinking when developing an early version of these principles.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard J. Millar.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Millar, R.J., Hepburn, C., Beddington, J. et al. Principles to guide investment towards a stable climate. Nature Clim Change 8, 2–4 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing