The chairman of the billion-dollar multinational investment bank, UBS, has taken to the stage and spoken out publicly on the need for policy-makers and investors alike to take the threat of climate change more seriously.
Speaking at UBS’s first-ever environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and Sustainability Symposium in London earlier this week via video link, Weber told attendees that those in positions of power need to act - and invest - accordingly.
“There is mounting evidence - real, true scientific evidence - that shows that our climate is changing,” Weber said. “It is not acknowledged by every policy maker around the globe, but I think there is an increasing number of policymakers who believe it.”
“If you look at the current research and you take some interest in that, you know this: climate change is for real,” Weber continued to explain. “The speed at which the environment is changing is astonishing. So [this] needs to be the speed at which we respond to that.”
Axel Weber’s brother is a maritime geologist who has been working in the area of climate science for a number of years now; Weber says that he has seen climate change data for more than 30 years.
We need to do what we can do best- that is financial engineering, financial plumbing- to become a force for good.” - Axel Weber, UBS Chairman.
Weber made his case to finance professionals and investors to essentially overhaul the way finance markets and investment processes take place, in order to prioritise environmental concerns. “Financial markets are enormously effective in moving capital where it is needed most,” he said. “But how can financial markets be moved to mobilising capital and aligning capital allocations more strongly with sustainability?”
“During the financial crisis and before, and in its aftermath, finance has been part of the problem. We need to do what we can do best- that is financial engineering, financial plumbing- to become a force for good.”
In his speech, Weber called for the creation of a new set of acronyms to first make sustainable investing more understandable and accessible, set development benchmarks for sustainability and develop new derivative markets in sustainable investments in the hope that this emerging market will become a powerhouse.
Weber’s speech was followed by an address from Dr Maria Zuber, who is a professor in geophysics, as well as vice-president for research at MIT. Zuber said that “changes are happening faster than any of the models are predicting.”
“We need technology breakthroughs. There will be technology breakthroughs, it’s just a question of when it’s going to happen. You have it within your wherewithal to invest in some of these things,” she told the audience.
“Sustainable investment aimed at decreasing the impact of climate change has become a major subject within global finance in recent years.”
According to Oscar Williams-Grut, “sustainable investment aimed at decreasing the impact of climate change has become a major subject within global finance in recent years.”
“A ‘Green Finance Strategy’ was launched by the UK government earlier this year and Bank of England will begin climate stress tests in 2021. These tests will examine how banks would cope with climate risks such as the banning of carbon-based fuels or increased flooding in certain areas.”