LAUNCH OF ‘PATH TO COP26’ TO ADDRESS CLIMATE EMERGENCY

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GLOBAL ETHICAL FINANCE INITIATIVE

EMBARGO: IMMEDIATE

LAUNCH OF ‘PATH TO COP26’ TO ADDRESS CLIMATE EMERGENCY

A YEAR-LONG campaign in the run-up to the UN summit in Glasgow has been launched to bring the world’s finance sector together to address the climate emergency. The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) will host a series of events in London, the USA, Gulf States and Asia ahead of the pivotal COP26 summit in November. The ‘Path to COP26’ initiative is designed to encourage banks, asset management firms and other financial companies to demonstrate their commitment to the climate agenda. That includes ethical investment decisions which help the environment, financing the clean energy sector, and offering ‘green’ options to clients for assets and pensions.

As well as the flagship Ethical Finance 2020 global summit in Edinburgh in October, a number of events on climate finance will also be held in Glasgow in November alongside COP26.
GEFI has already attracted six major partners – the Scottish Government; the United Nations Development Programme; Baillie Gifford; Royal Bank of Scotland; Chartered Banker Institute; and Shepherd + Wedderburn – and is inviting all organisations with an interest to take part. COP26 will be the largest gathering of world leaders in the UK since the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics, and the Prime Minister this week focused on the event at the first Cabinet meeting of the year.
It is widely seen as the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Omar Shaikh, managing director of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), said:Omar Shaikh
“COP26 in Glasgow presents an unprecedented opportunity for the finance sector to come together to address the global climate emergency. “The launch of the Path to COP26 initiative will see events held across the world in the run-up to Glasgow, focused on developing commitments to the climate agenda and how to deliver impact. We already have six major partners and would encourage more to join the programme. “All financial institutions need to enhance transparency and choice by highlighting the impact of what they are financing and offering ethical options to their clients. “There are great opportunities for asset owners to invest in the clean energy sector, and public bodies and individuals are demanding greener pensions.
“We cannot miss this opportunity to deliver for future generations.”

Gail HurleyGail Hurley, senior consultant to the Global Ethical Finance Initiative and former senior advisor to the UN, said:
“All eyes are focused on the UK as this year’s host of what is arguably the world’s most important international conference. “Near the top of the agenda is how to mobilise the trillions needed for international climate financing programmes. “Within the financial services sector, interest has increased significantly over recent years in the ways it can – and should – look beyond short-term profit and shareholder value towards how it can drive positive social, economic and environmental impact. “Finance can be a positive force for change. The Path to COP26 initiative will accelerate the transformation towards a more socially responsible and inclusive financial system which serves both people and planet.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

More information is available at www.pathtocop26.com

More information on the Ethical Finance 2020 global summit is available here: www.ethicalfinance2020.com

Broadcast interview opportunities are available.

A photo of Omar Shaikh is available for download here. A photo of Gail Hurley is available for download here.

What is the Global Ethical Finance Initiative?
The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change. It brings together the world’s business, political, and social leaders to build a fairer finance system for people and the planet. The organisation is based in Edinburgh.

What is ethical finance?
A fairer system of financial management that combines profit with better outcomes for people and the planet. The full working definition of ethical finance: A system of financial management or investment that seeks qualitative outcomes other purely the management of returns. Outcomes sought may reflect ideas from faith, environmental and governance theories.

Why does ethical finance matter?
Although ethical finance is not a new concept the financial crisis has led to a growing interest in sustainability, climate change and social justice. This has seen a collective desire to create a fairer, more inclusive and responsible global financial system. Trust in banks is diminishing and today’s generation of consumers believes that investment decisions should reflect the issues they care about. Ethical finance in the UK is valued at around £40billion, creating thousands of sustainable job opportunities. Today, with the world facing a climate emergency there is a pressing need to develop environmentally sustainable financial solutions.


COP26 – Role of Finance in Tackling the Climate Crisis

COP26 – Role of Finance in Tackling the Climate Crisis

This year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid has wrapped up, and all eyes will now focus on Scotland as next year’s host of what is arguably the world’s most important international conference. Also known (somewhat confusingly) as COP 26, Glasgow will be centre stage between 9 and 20 November 2020 as it welcomes an estimated 30,000 delegates from around the world.

Next year’s climate change conference will be particularly important since it will mark five years since the historic Paris Climate Agreement, which committed countries to strengthening actions to combat climate change and limit the global temperature rise this century to below 2 degrees Celsius. We know however that the world is not on-track to cut carbon emissions which must be halved on today’s levels to restrain temperature increases to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, the upper limit advised by climate scientists. Progress will need to be ratcheted up by next year.

Over 500,000 people marched through the centre of Madrid this month, joined by young climate activist Greta Thunberg, to demand quicker action to tackle climate change, yet many have been left frustrated by the lack of urgency that has characterised this year’s climate conference. Madrid has been dominated by disagreements over carbon emissions trading (where more polluting countries can purchase the right to pollute from countries that have not yet reached their emission limits – seen by many as deeply unfair and a false solution to the climate crisis) and an international push to have rich countries pay poorer countries for “loss and damage” associated with irreversible climate change impacts.

Next year, the spotlight is expected to shine on the thorny issue of how to pay for climate damage, and how to mobilise the trillions needed for international climate financing programmes.

Financing needs to tackle the climate crisis are estimated in the trillions worldwide, and are especially high in the poorest countries and those particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as small island states. The UN estimates a US$ 3 trillion annual shortfall in investments needed to meet internationally-agreed climate and sustainable development goals.

A decade ago, industrialised countries pledged to jointly mobilise US$ 100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020 to address their needs. Yet only US$ 71 billion was raised in 2017, mostly from public sector aid budgets (and with most provided as loans). There is a consensus that more resources need to be mobilised from private markets for climate-friendly investments and to support a “just transition” to net-zero.

This is where our work to promote Scotland as a leading international centre for ethical and responsible finance comes in. The climate emergency has underscored the importance – indeed urgency – of building a financial system that has better outcomes for people and planet at its heart. Our work at the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) headquartered in Edinburgh, builds on Scotland’s proud heritage in ethical finance and financial services, to convene the world’s foremost political, business and civic leaders to define and shape the transition to a sustainable financial system.

Within the financial services sector, interest has increased significantly over recent years in the ways it can – and should – look beyond short-term profit and shareholder value towards how it can drive positive social, economic and environmental impact. Increasingly, investors and consumers want to be more thoughtful about the impact their money can make on the world. This has led to a plethora of new initiatives and financial products, such as ethical investment funds, sustainability bonds (where the proceeds are exclusively applied to finance green or social projects), and the development of UN-led Principles for Responsible Investment. Globally, the impact investment  market is increasingly popular and is now estimated at over US$502 billion (impact investments are those that seek a positive social and environmental impact in addition to a financial return).

At this year’s climate conference, the European Union unveiled its “Green New Deal” intended to transform Europe’s economy and eliminate its contributions to climate change by 2050. Scotland is even more ambitious: this year it adopted landmark legislation to become a net zero society by 2045, and to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030. Delivering a green transformation that will support employment creation, build skills, boost wages and trigger technological advances will require building a new generation of infrastructure and industries. In addition to well-planned public expenditure that can crowd-in private investment, banks will need to ensure they are able to provide the kinds of financing needed to support this transformation. Aligning their business strategies with society’s goals will in turn will help them leverage new business opportunities and remain competitive with the emergence of the sustainable development economy.

Our view is that finance can be a positive force for change. As we enter a “decade of action” on climate and sustainable development, COP26 in Glasgow in 2020 provides an opportunity for Scotland to showcase the important work it is doing to accelerate the transformation towards a more socially responsible and inclusive financial system – one that serves both people and planet.

 

By Gail Hurley: Senior Consultant, Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI)

Gail was formerly a Senior Advisor to the UN

Follow on Twitter: @gailmlhurley

Follow GEFI on Twitter: @Finance4Change