6 Contributor Insights from the “Climate Change: Global leadership, local action” Webinar

Climate Change: Global Leadership Local Action

#FinBiz 2030 ‘Building Resilience’ online series

Over 1,000 people from 105 countries joined the second #FinBiz2030 online series of 2021 to learn more about the global leadership and local action required to tackle climate change.

Opening Introductions

Kate Robertson, Co-Founder and CEO of One Young World and Michael Izza, CEO, ICAEW and Chairman, Chartered Accountants Worldwide opened the event reaffirming the significant commitment of FinBiz2030 to mobilise the finance and business community to help tackle the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Michael Izza spoke of the endless opportunities right now for finance and business to bring in the SDGs as part of recovery plans for the pandemic; to build resilience and sustainable economies that will serve us for decades ahead. He didn’t underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead stating, “make no mistake about it, those of you in the finance and business sectors are going to have to do nothing short of re-engineering and transforming your business models”.

“Nothing builds resilience like clarity of purpose”, stated Kate Robertson as she welcomed participants highlighting the significance of the FinBiz2030 network for sustainable development; “This network of Chartered Accountants around the world is actually the structure that will guarantee that governments and businesses have what we need to achieve, to meet (at least) the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. I would urge this network to realise that you are the infrastructure of the change that has to be made.” Kate emphasised how the finance community is needed to drive climate sustainability at scale. “After this pandemic we need to understand this has been the dress rehearsal for climate change. This powerful network of accountants, you matter and everything you do every day has to matter” she said.

Insights from 3 Climate Leaders

Three young climate leaders shared their unique experiences, reaffirming the urgency and agency of the climate movement and sharing their unique personal experience and advice.

Angelique’s Insights

Angelique Pouponneau, CEO, Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust gave her unique perspective speaking from the Seychelles which is 99% ocean, 1% land and is critically affected by climate change and rising sea levels. Angelique spoke about the everyday impact she is seeing on food supply, tourism and infrastructure, highlighting the urgency of this issue.

In relation to the economy, because the temperature of the water is actually rising, we are seeing that fish that we typically depend on as a driver for our economy is migrating to cooler latitudes. So this means the [fishing] vessels will follow the fish and the port services that we offer in the Seychelles will no longer be used, significantly hitting our economy.

Blended funding models of private and public investment will be critical in the fight against climate change. “We’re going to need to bring that PPP- I’ve added my own p for public, private and people partnerships in order to achieve this.”

To bring it together, there’s a need to bridge science, policy and finance. “You will reach a difficult place if you don’t have the finance there. As financiers you have the power.”

“But of course, remember there’s a lot to learn from the community, you’ve got to work with people.”

Ravi’s Advice

Ravi Abeywardana, Technical Director, Climate Disclosure Standards Board spoke to attendees about how to ensure climate sustainability commitments are embedded within an organisation and not simply ‘corporate green-washing’.

It’s easy to see that accountants have all the skills to support climate action within the companies we operate in; doing what we do best, challenging and testing positions and assumptions and ensuring comparable and consistent opinion.

Learn how to turn knowledge into action “the good thing is that the accountant does not need to be an expert in climate, but you do need to ask the correct questions and understand how climate change could impact the numbers we manage in our books on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, my suggestion to you is take free courses, such as those on the TCFD knowledge hub, and put them into action. It’s not revolutionary but you can start today.”

Collaborate and bring others on the journey. “Work with your sustainability department or a good consultant to ask questions and find ways to collaborate. Connect with your financial controllers, financial directors and CEOs to advocate for the implementation of climate related disclosures.  

Jessica’s Guide for Proactive Organisations

Jessica Bingham, Auditor, National Audit Office re-affirmed the scale of the challenge to meet current emissions targets and highlighted that governments’ re-organisation of priorities to tackle climate change has reflected the high political priority needed to achieve net-zero.

We often talk about the risks and fears around Climate Change; however we need to recognise and embrace the opportunities we face by harnessing our own sense of ambition and commitment.  We all have the opportunity to conquer this unprecedented challenge and create a more resilient future.

‘Achieving Net Zero’, the National Audit office’s recent report on the government’s ability to reach net-zero, was published in December 2020. A key insight was that the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has yet to implement key elements such as integrated planning, progress monitoring and process dependencies to ensure net-zero targets could be achieved. This report is a useful analysis and guidance for larger private corporations and SMEs alike looking for guidance to prepare for the future.

Keynote Address

Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency and Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth), outlined the global ambition and action required to support countries hit hardest by climate change to adapt and build resilience for the future.

As a proud chartered accountant, myself I’m delighted to speak to the future of the profession. As young professionals, you shape this greener future through your work and the wider economy, you will be working in and you’re starting by leading this change today.

Minister Trevelyan outlined the physical and transition risks to companies of climate change from extreme weather events to economic and societal shifts brought on by climate change prevention and adaptation. “If these risks are not properly managed the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, estimates there will be 69 trillion dollars in global financial losses this century. So as trusted business advisors we must help companies understand and communicate the risks and opportunities that they face.

Steps for businesses to consider ahead of COP26

  • Commit to net-zero targets by 2050 at the latest.
  • Committing to credible short-term action plans that are independently verified.
  • Uphold the promises from the Paris Climate Agreement.

30% of FTSE 100 companies have made this commitment. The Big 4 accountancy firms have committed. “It is clear, carbon is increasingly a risk and a cost. I’m calling on you to take this message far and wide… As the generation to take this forward, you can provide a unique and persuasive argument for acting today and not waiting for tomorrow.”

We need everyone to join the race to zero, make sure that you are part of this change.

Michael Izza concluded the event by stating that the finance profession needs to push harder and for change at a faster pace than 2050. “We need to make a lot of noise. We can’t leave this to school children.”

He concluded by highlighting that Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan is one of three key politicians, including Alok Sharmer and Andrew Griffith who are leading the British government’s drive for COP26. All are chartered accountants. “If you want proof that chartered accountants can make a difference, look no further. If they can do it, you can do it.”