As Finextra’s annual Sustainable Finance Live conference draws nearer, we spoke to several attendees that are set to speak at the event to take place at Events@No6 in London on 10th October 2023. Richard Conway, CEO of ElastaCloud, shares his views on relevant topics swirling around the sustainable finance sector and gives attendees an insight into his session.
Sustainable Finance Live will join experts and leaders in financial services to explore how to form and implement sustainable strategies to promote green values and combat climate change. Conway will be speaking duringthe workshop, ‘What is a financial institution’s role in managing and measuring the climate transition when financing sustainable cities?’
On active strategies to combat climate change in the sector, Conway cited impact investment, ESG footprint portfolios, nature-based exchanges, and green bonds as new ways to fight climate change. He noted, however, that these initiatives are untested and their impact still unclear as in some instances greenwashing is the intention.
Discussing the influx of ESG frameworks and aligning sustainability initiatives, Conway stated: “ESG frameworks provide some high-level content to allow corporate entities to be compared across their industry spectrum. New regulation will penalise institutions that do not have clear and adequate investments mitigating their carbon footprint. The issue whether the true cost of carbon offset is bundled into this methodology which is currently isn’t.
“This means that whilst accuracy in numbers in frameworks like TCFD may show a true representation of emissions for a company, choice in offsets may render this reporting a waste of time as the true offset cost of carbon is being misrepresented. Corporate citizens are still expected to be good environmental citizens which is not a given. Whilst frameworks like CSRD help through reporting and auditing pressure there are still many gaps.”
He added that AI and data analytics will play a significant role in providing guidelines for reporting and ensuring transparency and revealing which companies are sustainable reporting honestly.
Remarking on the debate of sustainability and green products having a cost, especially for smaller and newer businesses, Conway clarified that all business involves risk and that with proper planning and effort sustainability can be made possible, and should be a priority in our current climate reality.
Conway highlighted that financial organisations are responsible to pave a clear path to Net Zero, making it easy and clear for partners to see and double-check their carbon footprint. Organisations should rethink their investments in any corporation that does not have clear milestones or sustainable commitments.
Touching on the topic of green energy and financing sustainable cities, which is a key theme of Sustainable Finance Live 2023, Conway noted: “A good understanding of what green energy means. Consuming green energy and calling yourself carbon neutral is not an answer. There isn't enough green energy to power the planet so consuming through a PPA is effectively stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
“The financial industry has a responsibility to make far more investments in this area even in more risky energy sources that bring down the cost of storage, wind, solar or tidal but may not yield dividends. Taking little risk whilst we are quite possibly over 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial times is no longer an option.”
Looking out for next trends in the sustainable finance sector, Conway predicted more agriculture-focused investments and better discernment of companies that lack transparency in carbon reduction and greenwashing.
On what he looks forward to the most at Sustainable Finance Live this year, Conway commented: “Looking forward to network with such a diverse audience.”
Learn more and register for Finextra's annual Sustainable Finance Live conference, that will bring together industry experts to examine strategies to build a sustainable city on 10 October 2023.