Achieving net zero

How can finance achieve net zero? James Wilde of Phoenix Group, Eva Cairns of abrdn and Chris Hayward of City of London Corporation joined our Ethical Finance Global 2022 climate change panel, with David Pitt-Watson as moderator.

The panel was focused on fielding questions from the audience, with a number of insightful contributions from those gathered. The session looked at the different initiatives present in the market, the role of metrics and their reflection of reality and the need for deep engagement with companies. In particular, Eva remarked that “you can divest quickly with a low carbon portfolio… but you haven’t actually moved anything in the real world”.

A net zero portfolio can be achieved by excluding high-emission sectors, but as sectors such as cement are likely to be economically useful, this may do nothing to transition towards a clean economy as a whole. James Wilde emphasised the need for a long-term view, and argued for greater collaboration between the constituent parts of a normally competitive sector, in order to address the climate crisis.

Closing the session, Chris Hayward issued a rousing call for politicians and financiers to shed their “short timescales”, reject the ease of saying “let the millennials sort this out” and take responsibility for the crisis.

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