"Finance, technology and international cooperation are critical enablers for accelerated climate action. If climate goals are to be achieved, both adaptation and mitigation financing would need to increase many-fold. There is sufficient global capital to close the global investment gaps but there are barriers to redirect capital to climate action."

IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report

To those of us involved in environmental action every day, the release of each IPCC report can seem somewhat anti-climactic. The report represents an impressively detailed description of the horrifying impacts of climate change, and a sobering assessment of the progress made so far by humanity to address it.

In some ways, the release of publications like the IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report tells us only what we already know: there is a serious problem which we are running out of time to solve. However, the sermon is intended not only for choir, but the congregation too.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, and Chris Skidmore, a Conservative UK MP launched a cross-party initiative to tackle climate inaction this week. As they state in an excellent article in support of it, climate denialism has given way to ‘climate delayism’.

Thanks to the excellent work of the IPCC, laying out in meticulous detail the science of climate change, denial of climate change is no longer an intellectually credible position. Those who once denied now claim to accept the science, but raise all sorts of bad-faith arguments to obstruct, delay and minimise action to address the problem.

Reading the AR6 Synthesis Report makes clear that delay is just as bad as denial. We can still limit temperature rises to 1.5C, but only with swift, significant action. Doing that, as the final section of the report makes clear, relies on the finance industry.

Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement will require massive shifts in the patterns financial flows, which require effective regulation, incentives, public-private partnerships and bold action from the finance industry.

The report also notes that the finance industry itself is at risk from the physical and transitional risks associated with climate change. To address these, the report calls for a coordinated global response that includes climate-related financial disclosures, stress tests, and scenario analysis.

As an industry, finance must not allow our delayers to get the best of us. There will always be better data tomorrow. There will always be a clearer regulatory picture next week. There will always be more lucrative subsidies in a month’s time. We must focus on what is important: immediate action.

Future generations will not judge us for choosing a marginally less efficient course of action: they will judge us for knowing what needs doing yet still delaying.