The event at Climate Change Capital on 20 May was organised by Cleanweb UK, a non-profit group dedicated to raising the profile of the cleanweb movement in the UK
The speakers covered a range of issues which are fast establishing themselves as being central to both environmental protection and the wider economy.
First up was the Guardian’s Duncan Clark on the ticking time bomb of pensions and the carbon bubble.
This refers to the conundrum that if the world wants to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, it cannot afford to burn all the remaining fossil fuels, even with a quick roll out of Carbon Capture & Storage.
However, many pension funds have invested in these reserves and are reliant on them being extracted. If they’re not, at lot of people stand to lose out big time. So don’t plan that retirement just yet.
Clark said there needs to be legislation, but the cosy relationship between politicians and big oil make that unlikely.
This led on nicely to Trillion Fund, a relatively new company which intends to issue retail bonds to make direct investment in renewable energy projects possible.
Julia Groves, Trillion Fund’s MD, identified SMEs as the future of the UK economy and spoke of the need to support them financially – something that traditional institutions have not done.
The strong connection between SMEs and the green economy, in addition to the increasingly critical need for new renewable energy infrastructure, makes a company like Trillion Fund vital for the UK’s future.
Another increasingly important issue is the need for businesses to report their own environmental performance, such as carbon emissions and water usage.
This was addressed by Conor Riffle from the Carbon Disclosure Project, who mentioned that while good progress is being made by many ‘environmentally aware’ companies in the West, there remains a lack of business data in countries like India and China.
The CDP’s Cities Programme was the focus for this event, a voluntary initiative which allows any city government to openly measure, report and compare carbon emissions.
This will provide an additional lens on global climate change progress. After all, comparing countries on their overall emissions incorporates so much complex economic activity and regional diversity that the figures can often seem confusing and meaningless.
Comparing and measuring city emissions is a more measurable, and potentially meaningful, unit.