What COP26 means for Financial Services

What COP26 means for Financial Services

Many have proclaimed COP26 as a failure, with funding falling short, loose wording and non-binding commitments. However, despite the doom and gloom, there was a bright spot; the UK’s finance industry.

Trillions need to be invested to achieve the 1.5 degrees target, but governments alone do not have the funds to achieve this. Alternative sources of finance must be found, and private investment needs to be encouraged on all fronts to, ‘go green’. Looking at supply-side energy alone, the IPPC estimates that up to $3.8 trillion needs to be mobilised annually to achieve the transition to net-zero by 2050.

The UK led from the front in green finance, introducing plans to become the world’s first net-zero aligned financial centre. New Treasury rules for financial institutions, listed on the London Stock Exchange, mean that companies will have to create and publish net-zero transition plans by 2023, although the full details are yet to be announced. These plans will be evaluated by a new institution, but crucially, are not mandatory. The adjudicator of the investment plans will be investors. Although some argue the regulation could be stronger, just like national climate targets, once there are institutions publishing their alignment with net-zero, there is a level of accountability that can be scrutinised and a platform for comparison which encourages competition. Anything stronger could have pushed investment firms into less-regulated exchanges.

Encouragingly, the private sector showed strong engagement, with nearly 500 global financial services firms agreeing to align $130 trillion — around 40% of the world’s financial assets — with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

From large multinational companies, to small local businesses, the summit provided greater clarity on how climate policies and regulations will shape the future business environment. The progress made, on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and coal investments, was a clear signal to the global market about the future viability of fossil fuels. It will now be more difficult to gain funding to expand existing or build new coal mines. Over time, this adjustment will have wider impacts on the funding of other polluting industries.

This new framework will give the private sector the confidence and certainty it needs to invest in green technology and green energy. Renewable energy is already the cheapest form of energy in 2/3 of the world. This reassurance will be crucial in driving the economies of scale we need, within the renewable energy industry.

A truly sustainable future is still a long way off. The private sector will still invest in fossil fuels, new regulations will cause challenges, and ESG remains optional; but initial signals from COP26 show that the future of the world is looking green.

 

By Maria King — ESG Associate at Leading Point

 

Who we are:

Leading Point is a fintech specialising in digital operating models. We are revolutionising the way operating models are created and managed through our proprietary technology, modellr™, and expert services delivered by our team of specialists.


How To Sustainably Return To The Office & Incorporate ESG

Freedom has engulfed the UK since the 19th of July, with restrictions and masks now being a choice, this means the penultimate move back to the office is looming, or already loomed for many of us. After a yearlong hiatus from the bustle of office life, it is time to up our ESG game. If you’re unfamiliar with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), there’s no better time than now to learn. More and more businesses are adopting ESG solutions in the hopes of bettering themselves, or simply, to keep up with the times. According to The Cone Communications Millennial Employee Study, 64% of millennial workers won’t take a job if the business does not have a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) or ESG policy (1). Studies such as these reflect the traction ESG is generating, and why companies like us are so passionate about driving it.

Ways of working have fundamentally changed, and as companies navigate this, they have the chance to ensure that the environmental aspect of ESG is not only theoretical, but implemented into their everyday ways of working. SMEs are now using significantly more electricity than they need to, i.e., a small business uses an average 15,000-25,000 kWh per year in the UK (2). To put those numbers into perspective, the average UK household consumes 3,731 kWh per year (3), and although an office accommodates more than a typical family home would, these figures are undeniably excessive.

Returning to the office after numerous COVID-19 lockdowns, gives the feeling of a fresh start. We now have a chance to create a more carbon neutral workplace that uses less energy, produces less waste, and benefits the overall welfare of staff. Cutting your office’s electricity consumption has endless benefits, from relieving the environment of greenhouse gasses and fossil fuels, to reducing the costs associated with running your firm.

2021 will see a surge in policy makers taking action to manage and measure the climate crisis, but the key question is, how will you respond?

Improve your green credentials with these 3 simple steps:

1. Reduce your carbon footprint through your transport choices – take public transport, walk, or cycle. Even carpool if possible!

2. Support your local businesses – eat lunch near the office, go to local pubs after work. This reduces the energy exuded from delivery services and travel.

3. Lower your offices electricity consumption:

i) Open windows instead of using air conditioning.

ii) Minimise artificial lighting – during daylight, open blinds instead of using bulbs.

iii) Use energy-saving bulbs – switching to LEDs could save you 85% on your lighting costs according to EON (4).

iv) Install motion sensors to control lighting in certain rooms – ensures that lights are not left on needlessly.

v) Switch off computer workstations at the end of the day – reduces electricity consumption from appliances.

vi) Reduce paper wastage – print only when necessary.

vii) Consider micro-generation (small scale production of heat and/or electricity from a low carbon source, i.e., solar panels).

viii) Book a commercial energy audit – quantify your firms’ environmental impacts.

Keeping in line with the ever-changing rules, our team have slowly and recently migrated back to the office. ESG is a huge part of our service lines and overall ethos, therefore implanting green habits upon the return to the office was hugely important. ESG expert, Ziko Townsend, who has written several pieces on the importance of ESG, lets us in on how he has successfully, sustainably, returned to the office.

“I try to do the simple things. Walk as much as possible where I can, bring my own mugs for coffee and water, and try to recycle as much as I can at home and in the office.”

As you can see, there are tonnes of small ways, to make a big impact. We are in a unique situation in the work force right now that is giving us the opportunity to reset, change old habits and form new ways of everyday working. So, leave your pre-pandemic office habits in 2020, and use your new freedom to adopt some of the above suggestions upon your return to the office.

If you would like to learn more about Leading Point and how we help businesses manage change, you can reach us here.