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Insights 30 Oct 2018

SustainAbility at Climate Week NYC: Finance for Global Change

By Christina Wong

© Photo by Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash.

Check out SustainAbility’s blog series covering our team’s attendance at several Climate Week NYC events in September 2018.

Event: HSBC Finance for Global Change Forum, New York Public Library

At a well-attended early Climate Week event hosted by HSBC in the beautiful Bryant Park New York Public Library, attendees heard from several great speakers about how finance can act as a catalyst for global sustainability change.

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One of the more powerful realities the model showed was that it will be insufficient to only promote alternatives to fossil fuels.

Andrew Jones from climateinteractive.org shared a useful new model created by MIT scientists and climate change experts that allows users to see the influence of policy,  energy mix , and other decisions have on planetary temperatures. Interacting live with the tool, Drew demonstrated that while some actions can change our current temperature trajectory, there is no silver bullet to solving climate change. One of the more powerful realities the model showed was that it will be insufficient to only promote alternatives to fossil fuels. They must stay in the ground if we are to have any hope on achieving a less than a 2oC temperature increase over the coming decades. Check out the C-Roads Climate Change Simulator tool here and try it for yourself.

In a panel discussion on sustainable supply chain finance, Rob Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital, shared a surprising data point that more than half of the plastic that goes into oceans comes from just five countries in Southeast Asia. These countries are such big contributors because they lack integrated waste management infrastructure. Pairing people/startups/countries who need financing to develop sustainable supply chain solutions with those interested in financing them, is something Patricia Bomes, Regional Head NA, Global Trade & Receivables Finance, HSBC supports through her work. One of the bigger recent win-win-wins the bank has supported involved HSBC providing preferred financing to Walmart suppliers, who then have the funds to invest in more sustainable parameters, which ultimately helps Walmart meet its supply chain sustainability goals.

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Social media can either help consumers double down in support of a company’s sustainable brands or break them if they are not authentic.

On the topic of consumer trends in one of the afternoon panels, Julia Wilson, Director of Global Responsibility and Sustainability at Nielsen, highlighted her company’s recent research and reiterated that yes, millennials do care about sustainability. The research also found that consumers that identify with a more sustainable lifestyle tend to be much more digitally engaged. Social media therefore, can either help consumers double down in support of a company’s sustainable brands or break them if they are not authentic.

The afternoon concluded with the launch of the Climate Bonds: The State of the Market 2018 Report, a useful document outlining the current universe of climate-aligned bonds which currently stands at USD 1.45 Trillion. Transportation was yet again one of the biggest areas for climate aligned bonds and while the overall growth is encouraging, there is still a long way to go if we are to remain on track to not exceed a 2 degree warming scenario.

From using better climate modeling tools, to funding win-win-win solutions in sustainable supply chains and supporting climate aligned bonds, the event highlighted the many ways finance can and must continue to support a transition to a more sustainable future.

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