4:00 – 4:15 Welcome Notes
4:15 – 4:25 Prof. Dr. Kurt Hübner, University of British Columbia
4:25- 5:25 Short Input Presentations á 7 minutes:
Bjarne Steffen (ETH Zurich) – “Taking stock of Green Financial Policies”
Dr. Florian Egli (ETH Zurich) – “Who Divests from Fossil Fuels?”
Dr. Christoph Nedopil Wang (BRI Center) – “Addressing the Missing Linkage in Sustainable Finance: the SDG Finance Taxonomy”
Q&A with participants
Simone Wagner (University of Hamburg) – “CEO Hazard Experiences and Preferences for Sustainability”
Claudia Tober (Independent Sustainable Finance Expert) – “Sustainable Investment – Spotlights on Risks and Stranded Assets”
Dr. Berthold Kuhn (Freie Universität Berlin) – “Sustainable Finance in Germany: Discourses, Stakeholders and Policy Initiatives”
Q&A with participants
5.25 – 5:50 Interaction between speakers and participants
5:50 – 6:00 Wrapping up
The purpose of our workshop was to stimulate a debate on the relevance of financial markets for the sustainability transition and global climate action. The rationale behind the concept of sustainable finance is that the sustainability transition requires enormous investments and political and regulatory authorities need to design a framework conducive to the promotion of sustainable investments into more eco-friendly technologies and business models. The concepts of sustainable investment and sustainable finance have recently gained much traction in politics and public debate. The European Commission launched a Sustainable Finance Action Plan in March 2018 and announced its Green Deal in December 2019. We currently witness a proliferation of investment fund that claim to respect environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG) and a flourishing debate on the implications of this new trend.
Following an introduction by Prof. Hübner (UBC, Canada) on the role and functions of financial markets, co-chair Prof. Fishhendler (HU, Israel) introduced five more presentations analysing topics related to sustainable investment and sustainable finance. Dr. Florian Egli (ETH Zurich) delivered an input on “Who Divests from Fossil Fuels?” and also presented findings of a research project of his ETH Zurich colleague Bjarne Steffen (“Taking stock of Green Financial Policies”). Christoph Nedopil Wang (BRI Center, Beijing) presented us the results of a project that developed a taxonomy aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The project was developed in close collaboration with UNDP and a series of stakeholders in China. Simone Wagner (University of Hamburg) delivered a presentation on “CEO Hazard Experiences and Preferences for Sustainability” and also referred to research work of her colleagues Timo Busch, Tobias Hahn, Wiebke Szymczak, Timo Busch, Tobias Hahn, (“Temperature shocks and corporate environmental policies)”. Claudia Tober, former Managing Director of the Forum for Sustainable Investment (Forum für Nachhaltige Geldanlagen, FNG) covering Germany, Switzerland, and Austria and currently independent Sustainable Finance Expert gave a talk on “Sustainable Investment – Spotlights on Risks and Stranded Assets”. The debate also included findings from two presentations of Angela McClellan (Managing Director FNG) on Key Numbers of the Sustainable Invesment Market” and Naciye Atalay (FNG associated expert) on Climate Reporting as Instrument for CO2-Reduction”). Co-Chair Berthold Kuhn (FU Berlin) concluded the series of presentations with an input on “Sustainable Finance in Germany: Discourses, Stakeholders and Policy Initiatives.”
Participants basically agreed that the sustainable investment trend will continue to mainstream into the financial industry. However, more research and public debates are needed to assess how deep the expected new regulations and the many initiatives, including from civil society organisations, would actually support more climate-friendly business models and the much needed sustainability transitions of economies in different parts of the world. The danger of green washing is a challenge, especially as many major asset management groups with a checkered environmental record now engage with this new trend of sustainable investment.