EDF Announces New Collaboration with The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment to Assess Net Zero Financial Sector Initiative

June 6, 2022
Shruti Chowdhary, schowdhary@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – June 6, 2022) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is pleased to announce a new project with The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) to evaluate net zero financial sector initiatives and opportunities for enhanced alignment with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This collaboration will build on EDF and CCSI’s momentum to inform and engage global investors in sustainable development.

“EDF is thrilled to partner with CCSI, a leading academic institution known for its rigorous research capabilities, powerful thought leadership, and focus on finding practical approaches to sustainability challenges in global finance. Through this collaboration, we intend to understand and guide the work of the world’s financial institutions, bringing more clarity to the ecosystem of players, their alliances and commitments, and what should define climate leadership in the sector,” said Jake Hiller, Senior Manager for Investor Influence initiatives.

Over the past decade, initiatives aiming to align finance and investment with the Paris Agreement have proliferated, creating a web of interconnected efforts representing trillions of dollars of assets under management. These include the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials and a group of initiatives under the umbrella of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero including those focused on banks, asset owners, asset managers, insurers, financial service providers and investment consultants.

Realigning financial sector activities to enable and support a zero-carbon future is critical to limit global warming and achieve climate justice. Financial sector decisions drive corporate action and capital flows, and they provide significant input into the public sector policies that shape the world’s economic systems.

The rapid growth of such initiatives demonstrates the interest and enthusiasm of finance sector actors to meaningfully engage in this space. However, there is little clarity or consensus around whether and to what extent their varied commitments will provide the transparency, credibility, and accountability to achieve their stated goals.

“Meeting the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C degree warming requires an urgent and fundamental realignment of global finance. Climate financing remains woefully inadequate, especially in developing countries, while financing for fossil fuels continues globally,” said Lisa Sachs, Director of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment. “The growing interest and commitment of financial actors to support the energy transition will benefit from clear, credible, and robust standards, including processes for verification and accountability.”

“Just in the last year, hundreds of financial institutions have signed onto net-zero-aligned initiatives. CCSI’s work to map out these initiatives and the commitments they entail will enable the all-important next step: action by firms to meet their own climate objectives,“ said Andrew Howell, EDF’s Director of Investor Influence.

Together, CCSI and EDF will:

  • Map out major ‘net zero’ initiatives for the financial sector and evaluate their ambitions, overlaps, and any gaps;
  • Explore what Paris alignment requires of financial sector actors, including commercial banks, asset managers, and asset owners;
  • Evaluate the roles for government regulation and international guidelines to encourage financial sector alignment with the Paris climate goals, and provide recommendations for public, private, and civil society actors toward this objective.

The project results will be shared publicly to inform next steps in the financial sector’s path to aligning with the Paris Agreement.

To learn more about EDF’s work with investors, please visit our insights platform ESG By EDF.

To learn more about CCSI, please visit https://ccsi.columbia.edu.

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