[ESG] The Hutton Series on Climate Change

James Hutton, the father of modern geology, was the executor of Adam Smith's will and a frequent visitor to Panmure House.  The Hutton Series on Climate Change brings together a diverse cross-section of experts, business leaders, scientists and concerned citizens in the service of one simple aim:  to identify ten key priorities, innovations and actions to mitigate climate crisis.  
 

I. INAUGURAL SESSION OVERVIEW
We all need adaptation for future resilience
1.  Speed of transition
Rising population poses tremendous stress on global resources.  We need to transition to green economy but the concern is not just the transition, it is the speed of transition.
2.  Reset our expectation of what it means by living a good life
  • Consume a lot less
  • Learn to value things differently
  • Are what we build today necessarily good for us?
 
3.  Climate Action
  • Tremendous opportunity to lead and support maximised impact
  • Sustainability team is a strategy team for a path of transition
  • Net-zero by 2025; we need to track carbon impact 
4.  Financial levers
  • Through bold and impactful choices, the financial section should think beyond the traditional sphere
  • Expand investment in green technology; provide social and sustainable bonds globally
  • Ensure it does not underwrite projects that do not have a credible transition plan in line with 2014 Paris Agreement
5.  Partnership and collaboration
  • Shared focus for greater impact
  • Provide information about environmental impact of consumptions for public to make choices
  • Business, government and public bodies must ensure their collective move to zero-C
6.  Younger generation
  • Huge ambitions; no need to be convinced.  
  • They are into green economy as they will inherit the current problems
  • Need to provide them with platforms to discuss choices of how their lifestyles can and will change in the future 
7.  Leadership and talent
  • There must be global actions.  It is the same planet for everyone.
  • The Zero-C targets must be achieved within a generation; we need to nurture the talent-pool across academia and business
  • Provide workers with the skills needed to make the transition happen swiftly and export these skills globally
II. RESPONSE FROM THE FINANCIAL SECTOR
Make sure climate change is embedded throughout the savings and investment ecosystem
1.  Values and clarity in financial investment
  • Encourage social values in investment -- "saving to save the planet"
  • Provide clarify of purpose to financial institutions
  • Capital must be made available for the pace and scale in delivering the climate solutions
2.  A whole system and coherent investment chain:
  • Connect financial sector, government and society to accelerate change 
  • Work with future generations to align understanding and build trust
  • Discuss both climate damaging investment and climate-change solutions
3.  Monitoring, reporting and disclosures:
  • Track and rate investment outcomes.  Disclosures are mandatory for investor's choices and ensure capital deployed lands on the right solutions.
  • Government's annual budgets on the state of investment, progress and achievements against climate change targets.
  • Make polices investable and create an open market-place discussion on rankings of ESG financial tools
 
III. RESPONSE FROM THE SCIENCE SECTOR
There is a near linear relationship between carbon emission and the temperature on this planet.
1.  Net-zero as a global challenge
  • Everything can be de-carbonised and we need rapid decarbonisation.  
  • There is not much technological barrier to net-zero; negative emission technology is ready to deploy.
  • We need to be up on learning curve and down on cost curve and distribute that globally
2. Turning research solution to industry reality
  • High carbon economy to transition to Zero-C economy can be achieved 
  • From materials, to jobs and supply chain, put incentives in the right place to encourage change.
  • Enhance ecosystem and sustainability.    Do we source from areas with growth exceeding consumption or the other way around?
3.  Policy for industry and community
  • Carbon capture and storage technology has low costs, is scalable and ready to go.  
  • We need a strong community voice.  It is essential to defining the path for climate change as an economic threat.
  • Policy helps to scale but political headroom is needed for government to support commercial deployment and affordability
 
IV. RESPONSE FROM CONCERNED CITIZENS
There should be purposeful endeavour to involve people in discussion of climate crisis in a meaningful way
1.  Purpose and ethics
  • We need to work together with a clear sense of purpose and ambition. 
  • Most important is the ethics around these actions that meet the wider societal needs
  • Challenge the status quo; implement ideas in an industrial level
2.  Information and communication
  • With the right information and incentive, we can move into energy efficient and low carbon lifestyle
  • Create spaces for dialogue across all levels
  • Recalibrate the brain of young people and children from passive engagement with digital lives to active engagement that turns into contribution
3.  Mindset and behavioural change
  • Psychology or transformation when activating change?
  • Think global and act local
  • What are the most important things to us?  Covid has opened up opportunities and proliferated ideas.
V. THE ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS
Engineers' value shift as they are gifted to do good rather than something bad for humanity.  The focus will be "transition engineering" for substitution of fossil fuels.
 
1.  Energy & transport
  • Nuclear fission energy, though represents low-C source, is a reliable baseload for solution.  Oil and gas and coal companies are required to reduce production by 10% p.a. year on year
  • People of all sections and income need readily available substitutes at affordable cost. 
  • Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) can be deployed rapidly as a transitional measure.  Carbon negative mass transport needs to be the focus with low-to-zero-C fuels for transport and replace EV in time
2.  Carbon removal and carbon trading
  • The oceans are a significant reservoir for carbon; natural systems and biomimicry (nature-inspired design) are the way forward
  • Progressive pricing, taxing on a global scale with regional applications along the lines of the Baker-Schultz plan
  • China is establish country specific C-trading policies and actively pursuing zero-C technology.  India requires help with the transition
3.  Behaviour
  • Better quality of life and female empowerment and education will help stabilise population growth
  • Allow people to focus on demand side values, rather than supply side
  • Provide people with the tools to understand what they can achieve
Source:  Adam Smith's Panmure House
All five reports have been collated and contributed to the final paper presented at COP26 in November 2021.  See the INFOGRAPHIC for easy reference.
For full Hutton Series content, click HERE
Tags:  Sustainability    /    Climate Change    /    Green Economy    /    Net-zero   /   Adam Smith House
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