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  • Isabela Valencia

Event Recap: Fireside Discussion: The role of the financial system in achieving net zero

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Note: This post is a recap of the event that took place on November 18, 2020.

Photo Credit: Photo by Matthew Foulds on Unsplash

This fireside chat moderated by alumnus Jonathan Pierre (St Anne's, '09), Chief Business Officer at Mantle Labs, explored how the financial system directly influences the decarbonisation effort.

Kaya Axelsson of University of Oxford kicked things off with an overview of the prior day's Oxford Net Zero announcement. Additionally, Kaya introduced the audience to the concept of offsetting and the crucial role it will play in getting companies to Net Zero. However, she also highlighted the negative connotations sometimes associated with offsetting, including allegations of greenwashing and unintended negative impacts.

With this in mind, Kaya gave a summary of The Oxford Offsetting Principles, which were published by The Smith School in September. Some of the principles are:

1. Cut emissions, use high quality offsets, and regularly revise offsetting strategy as best practice evolves

2. Shift to carbon removal offsetting

3. Shift to long-lived storage

4. Support the development of net zero aligned offsetting

Points regarding additionality and permanence of the offsets were highlighted as key considerations.

Then, Ariel Perez, Head of Environmental Products at Hartree Partners, gave an overview of cap-and-trade carbon regimes with emphasis on the EU Emissions Trading System. Ariel highlighted the need for offsets for sectors where abatement was difficult, and with this the crucial role of Voluntary Carbon Markets. These markets offer corporates a cost-effective way to get to net zero by accessing global offsetting projects.

Ariel discussed his preference for nature-based solutions, highlighting not only their cost-effectiveness, but also co-benefits such as nature conservation and improved biodiversity.He then delved into a forestry project Hartree was working on in South East Asia, framing it within the Oxford Offsetting Principles.

There was general agreement on the need for investment across the spectrum of Negative Emissions Technologies with the aim of driving down costs. This is especially important given potential issues of permanence in some solutions.

Therefore, the role of markets in nudging corporations to net zero and financing projects/technologies to make this happen was brought to life in this lively event.


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