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Biz must just get on with the climate opportunity

It’s easy to get distracted by the politics of climate change

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For business, the best approach is to push past the emotion and join the rest of the world – or at least most of it – in assessing both the business risks and opportunities, a key expert says.

" Focus on [climate] as a business risk and a business opportunity because this is where people will make money or lose money over the next 20 to 30 years.” 

“The most helpful message we give people is just forget about the politics,” Dr Paul Fisher, a former senior executive at the Bank of England who had direct involvement in the Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Finance Disclosures (TCFD), tells bluenotes on podcast.

“Forget about the emotion and whether this is a socially useful thing or not. Focus on this as a business risk and a business opportunity because this is where people will make money or lose money over the next 20 to 30 years.” 

According to FSB chairman and Bank of England governor Mark Carney, around the world climate disclosure is “becoming mainstream”, The September FSB status report shows the number of firms backing TCFD recommendations has grown to over 500.

Dr Fisher is a Fellow at the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership and representative at the European Commission’s High-level Experts Group on Sustainable Finance.

He admits the sample of Australian business he’s dealt with is biased toward those accepting of climate risk but says he has seen a lot of interest – and a lot of confusion.

“If you forget about the politics, it's fine,” Dr Fisher says. “People can just get on [with it]. They will do the right thing.

“We'll get 80 per cent to 90 per cent of what we need in terms of climate change if people just see this as a standard business issue like all of the others. That applies to investors like the super funds all the way through to real economy companies.”

With the United Kingdom having played such a key role in addressing climate risk, Dr Fisher hopes the confusion around the country leaving the European Union - ‘Brexit’ – won’t affect continued development within either the country or the union.

“Climate change doesn't recognise political boundaries or borders,” he says. “It is just ever present.”

“I hope the leadership that comes from London and not just some English people in London but from the international community that lives in London would be welcome to contribute to this debate going forward.”

Dr Fisher also touched on the success of the TCFD, the role of regulators in Australia when it comes to financial risk and the increasing level of disclosure from businesses. Listen to the podcast above to find out more.  

Paul Orton is Head – Project, Export & Sustainable Finance, Institutional Banking at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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