Sustainable Finance for Breakfast (19)

Held on Thursday, July 11th


  • Ben Caldecott (Smith School, University of Oxford)

  • Michael Mainelli (Z/Yen)



If (as I do) you accept that there are few better trend-spotters than the FT’s Gillian Tett, then ESG investment “is at a tipping point” – marked by the fact that Verizon was able to raise money via a green bond at finer terms than on a conventional “brown” bond. That would also seem to be the message from a Rockefeller Foundation/Longitude survey of 200 investors and from a parallel survey of 600 institutional investors by UBS. Oh, add in yet another survey from the Global Impact Investing Network, representing 266 members with US$239 billion in assets, which shows ESG investment rising at least 17% a year, and it is clear that we are on to something

Of course, we knew that. But the pace of change does seem to be hotting up. Since our last meeting, for instance, I note:

  • hints that France and even (and, IMO, implausibly) Germany are about to follow the UK in pledging net zero carbon by 2050;

  • the decision by Norway’s SWF to dump coal, oil and mining shares (including those of Glencore and RWE); and

  • the new “Poseidon Principles”, designed to promote green shipping (I was stunned to read in the FT that Carnival Line’s cruise ships emit “ten times more cancer-causing gases in Europe than all passengers vehicles combined”).

Of course, it is not all plain sailing (not even for green shipping). After all, BP reported that CO2 emissions hit a high last year, and the latest data from Carbon Delta suggests that only 15% of the top 500 companies in a low carbon world are cutting emissions in line with the Paris Accord. But what is undeniable is that climate change, sustainability and the environment are now front-of-mind for virtually all decision-makers in both the public and private sectors.

That is good news for our regular guide to the ESG world – the indefatigable Ben Caldecott, founding director of the Sustainable Finance Programme at Oxford’s Smith School – who, among the many other strings to his bow, is an academic visitor at the Bank of England and a senior advisor at DEFRA. But he doesn’t get things all his own way. This month, to keep him on the straight and narrow, we have Michael Mainelli, founder/director of the Z/Yen group, emeritus professor of commerce at Gresham College, and a former partner at BDO Binder Hamlyn. One of his more recent initiatives is a new Global Green Finance Index to sit alongside Z/Yen’s Global Financial Centre’s Index.

There is a lot to talk about - and we would also like to hear your thoughts. If you (or a colleague) would like to join us for what I am sure will be a lively and provocative discussion, please let us know by emailing or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. Thanks to the support of Burges Salmon, there will be coffee, tea and buns for nourishment.

Many thanks,

Andrew Hilton