In early 2020, the economic powerhouse that is UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney announced that he had invited 40 of the world’s most prominent members of the carbon market value chain, from Tata steel to Goldman Sachs to Total Oil, to join a Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets.
“Companies, and those who invest in them and lend to them, and who are part of the solution, will be rewarded. Those who are lagging behind and are still part of the problem will be punished.”
Carney felt that investing in net zero solutions creates the kind of value and rewards necessary for successful business while counteracting the impacts of climate change.
In Vita we see ourselves as part of that solution through our voluntary carbon offset platform, the Vita Green Impact Fund.
The world is on a strict carbon budget in order to cool down the atmosphere to a point of sustainability, and yet carbon emissions are actually increasing year-on-year. The task force itself is led by Bill Winters, Group CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, and aims to scale the voluntary carbon market to $100 billion plus per year, with most of the offset investment flowing to emerging and developing economies for reforestation, nature-based solutions and the development of renewable power and other low carbon sources. Those other low carbon sources would include clean cooking and clean water as per the Vita Green Impact Fund.
But Mr Carney acknowledges that carbon offsets play a complementary role in getting to net zero. He describes it as an incredibly important market, but recognises that it is not a silver bullet that removes responsibility to reduce emissions.
There are other legs to the stool to achieve sustainable economies. Mr Carney has spoken often of deeper corporate transparency and accountability around carbon disclosure as one of the critical tools towards emissions reductions. This means extending the terms of carbon disclosure from a company’s own operations to both the downstream operations of producers and suppliers to the upstream operations of customers and users, right through to end –of-life and disposal of the product. Publishing this information, and empowering individuals to act on it, is how to drive businesses towards a sustainable future.
He also feels that multilateral banks and bilateral donors need to dramatically scale up their ambitions, and start delivering effective balanced blended finance models where there is a proper sharing of risks between the public and private sectors. These are big asks, and will require skilful leadership and global support to succeed, but Mark Carney has a track record of beating the odds. As Governor of the Bank of Canada back in 2007, just as the global financial crisis hit, his seemingly counterintuitive strategies ensured that Canada was effectively protected against the worst impacts of recession and was the first of the G7 to return to pre-crisis financial health.
The Bank of England
As Governor of the Bank of England, Carney robustly opposed Brexit, foreseeing the enormous difficulties that British businesses would face adapting to a different regulated space.
The task force has not been universally welcomed, however, with some critics pointing out that the high profile membership includes many of the worst carbon offenders, but as Mr Carney acknowledges, the transition to a net zero future cannot happen without their full commitment and co-operation.
Mark Carney has a very strategic mind, and has demonstrated a clarity of vision when tackling complex problems. He is certainly well qualified for the job of overseeing business’s transition to sustainability. And the fact that he is Irish, with no less than three grandparents from Mayo, will certainly help!
The premise of the task force is to change the way that business works, and to do this people need to change the way they interact with businesses and their products.
Carney has spoken often of corporate transparency and accountability around carbon disclosure as one of the critical tool towards emissions reductions. This means extending the terms of carbon disclosure from a company’s own operations to both the downstream operations of producers and suppliers to the upstream operations of customers and users, right through to end –of-life and disposal of the product. Publishing this information, and empowering individuals to act on it, is how to drive businesses towards sustainable futures.