Climate change is the most pressing concern of our time. That makes it a central concern for professional investors.
As asset managers, we have responsibilities both to our clients and to the wider world. Here, however, the long-term interests of our clients and our planet are very much aligned.
Although the global policy response to the climate crisis has been underwhelming, its ramping up will have profound implications for asset prices.
So too will the continuing fall in the relative price of low-carbon technologies. Companies and countries that respond quickly to these changes will face a bright future.
Conversely, late movers will be left behind, particularly in carbon-intensive sectors of the economy. This provides a clear catalyst for positive change at the company level - a change that investors should encourage.
But the companies in which we all invest do not exist in a vacuum. They are affected by the political and policy environments of the countries in which they have to operate.
Addressing the climate challenge requires massive policy change on a global scale. But government incentives are often skewed towards prioritising short-term economic and social concerns.
Meanwhile, the surge in political populism is impeding the multilateralism required to overcome short-termism and coordinate effective policy responses.
Tackling climate change is an inherently long-term process. The challenge lies in implementing policies that maximise pollution reduction while minimising the long-term cost to firms, individuals and the broader economy.
These costs are largely borne up front. The benefits, however, will manifest over much longer time horizons; indeed, many of them will only be felt by generations yet to be born.
This makes it more difficult to build durable political coalitions to mitigate climate change.
It also renders policy more sensitive to changes in voter support and corporate lobbying.
Fortunately, however, the power to influence corporate behaviour is not the sole preserve of governments. The investment community can influence corporate behaviour to mitigate climate risks at source.
And while the political cycle often forces governments to focus on the short term, professional investors - as stewards of their clients' capital - should always take a long-term approach.
Managers, including Aberdeen Standard Investments, have already made huge strides to enhance engagement with companies on climate risk.
Despite being active in encouraging companies to improve their governance with regard to the environment and to take appropriate action in their climate-risk planning, there is more that can be done.
Accordingly, managers are offering specialist portfolios to encourage better behaviour and to support the providers of clean energy.
They are undertaking climate-risk scenario analysis to illuminate the impact of climate change and to provide roadmaps for the companies with which they invest in.
Meanwhile, funds are being 'carbon-footprinted', so that investors can assess the environmental implications of their investments.
These actions encourage companies to be competitive in their efforts to reduce their impact on the planet. Alongside conventional financial metrics, environmental performance is becoming an important factor in investment decisions and, ultimately, in share price performance.
Importantly, though, we also need to focus on the demand side as well as the supply. For example, engagement with coal mining companies is crucial, but we also need to recognise that 600 coal-fired power stations are planned around the world.
Alternative sources of energy need to be proposed and capitalised on. To draw a simplistic comparison, since the introduction of the 10p charge for plastic bags, demand in the UK has fallen 90%.
So, while professional investors can have only very limited influence on government policy, we can play a crucial role in engineering change at the company level and elsewhere.
Our clients are increasingly aware of the impact - good or bad - that corporate activity can have on the planet.
And by channelling that awareness through our company contacts, we can encourage corporations to take action to mitigate the worst of the climate crisis.
Over the long term, nothing matters more.
Martin Gilbert is chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments