Five Times Faster - The invisible infrastructure of climate change

Tue 04 Apr 2023 -
09:00 - 10:00

IFoA Thought Leadership Programme

In the second event in the Presidential Speaker Series, Simon Sharpe (Director of Economics for the UN Climate Champions, and a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute) will host a talk on the ideas in his forthcoming book ‘Five Times Faster: Rethinking the Science, Economics and Diplomacy of Climate Change’.

In his book, Simon argues that under-recognised conceptual and institutional failures are blocking effective action on climate change and that addressing these is necessary to give the world a chance of limiting temperature rise to low levels and avoiding extreme risks.

In summary:

  • Science is focused on prediction rather than risk assessment. Government leaders are not being given a clear picture of the full extent of the threat (and neither are societies).
  • Economics is assuming equilibrium when the challenge is one of innovation and structural change. This results in consistently wrong advice being given to governments.
  • Diplomacy is focused on the point of least leverage: long-term economy-wide emissions targets; when it ought to be focused on coordinating action within specific sectors.

The finance community has an interest in each of these failures, beyond its general interest in society as a whole. Failures of risk assessment mean the potential for large losses in asset values over the long term is not well understood. Failures in economic analysis mean that investment opportunities in clean technologies are not created or realised as quickly as they could be, and this effect is amplified by the failure of diplomacy.

Within the finance community, the actuarial profession stands out for its long-term view, and the thought leadership that it has exercised on issues of climate change risk assessment and economics. The IFoA co-sponsored the work on risk assessment described in the first section of the book.

Featured Speakers

Director of Economics for the UN Climate Champions, and a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute.

Simon was previously Deputy Director of the UK government’s COP26 Unit, where he led international campaigns on energy, transport, land use, science, and innovation. His other roles in government included leading international climate change strategy, developing the approach to clean growth in the UK’s industrial strategy, and serving as head of private office to Ministers of State for Energy and Climate Change.

He also served on diplomatic postings to China and India. Simon has published academic papers on climate change science and economics, and policy reports on climate change risk assessment, economics, and diplomacy.

His current focus is on the Breakthrough Agenda – a process to strengthen international collaboration to accelerate transitions in each emitting sector of the global economy; and on projects to apply new economic thinking to climate change policy, including the Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition project, working with China, India, and Brazil.

Immediate past President, IFoA

In the course of a varied career as an actuary, software engineer and academic, Louise was Director, Actuarial Standards at the Financial Reporting Council, where she led the development of the Technical Actuarial Standards. She has practised as an independent consultant in the areas of software risk and sustainability and has worked on financial modelling for social security and pensions reform in a number of emerging economies.

Louise is Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership and a non-executive director at the Ecology Building Society.

She became a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in 1987 and a Fellow of IEMA in 2019. She has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from Northwestern University.

Energy Strategist for RMI

Kingsmill has worked as a financial market analyst and strategist for over 25 years, including for Deutsche Bank, Sberbank, and Citibank in London, Hong Kong, and Moscow.

He believes that the renewable revolution is the most important driver of financial markets and geopolitics in the modern era. He joined RMI in 2022 to write analysis on the impact of the energy transition on financial markets, with a focus on peaking fossil fuel demand and its implications.

Katie is an economist and Policy Fellow in Sustainable Finance at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, University College London. Her research interests focus on money, banking, and the intersection between finance and the environment.

Katie started her career in capital markets at the Royal Bank of Canada. Prior to joining UCL, she worked at ShareAction, the responsible investment NGO, and as a researcher for George Monbiot, focusing on sustainable food systems. Katie sits on the advisory panel for Positive Money UK, an NGO campaigning for a fair, democratic, and sustainable financial system, and is also contributing to the current work of the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) on biodiversity-related financial risks.

Watch a recording of this webinar on the VLE

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