19 February 2020

The Sustainable Finance programme is a joint venture from the University of Edinburgh Business School and EY.
New course to help finance professionals address climate change - image of solar panels

Greta Thunberg says you cannot solve a crisis without treating it as one.

The boss of BlackRock—the world's biggest asset manager—believes we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.

And for the first time, the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report is dominated by the environment.

The idea of sustainability hasn't just become mainstream; it's become urgent.

The scale of the challenge is huge. If we're to limit global temperature rise we need a major shift in how we allocate capital in our economies. Financial services companies have a clear role to play in minimising the risks to industry and society. There's not a moment to lose.

That's why the University of Edinburgh Business School and leading financial services firm EY have joined forces on a forward-thinking package of education for people working in the sector. People developing new products and services, or responsible for leading change in their organisations, will benefit from the Sustainable Finance programme, taking place over three dates in April, May, and June next year (2021).

Through discussions and practical workshop sessions, participants will explore how their organisations can align with the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Participants will also develop a pitch, outlining an innovation intended for their organisation with an expert panel providing feedback.

As the outgoing governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said recently:

A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund, or insurer: what's your plan?

Business School academics sharing their expertise will include:

  • Dr Luca Taschini, Reader in Carbon Finance
  • Dr Ian Cochran, Lecturer in Carbon Finance
  • Dr Kathi Kaesehage, Lecturer in Climate Change and Business Strategy
  • Dr Sarah Ivory, Lecturer in Climate Change and Business Strategy

Guest speakers on the course will include:

  • Emily Smart, Investment Director at Standard Life Investments
  • Sebastian Burnside, Chief Economist at RBS
  • Andrew Cave, Head of Governance and Sustainability at Baillie Gifford
  • Craig Mackenzie, Head of Strategic Asset Allocation at Aberdeen Standard
  • Sandy Trust, Senior Manager of Sustainable Finance at EY

Dr Sarah Ivory said:

"Financial services are having to cope with a fast pace of change. An increasing number of firms recognise the need to evolve, and develop new products and services as clients put the climate at the top of their concerns.

"There's been an explosion of initiatives in the sector, and a realisation that financial capital can be a tool to achieve sustainable communities and society. Our new course will connect practitioners and expert academics, speeding up Edinburgh's journey to become a major hub of sustainable finance."

Sandy Trust said:

"Sustainability is becoming intrinsic to every aspect of financial services. Transforming the industry to fully embrace sustainability requires new strategies, a new approach to managing risk, new products and services, and new ways of engaging stakeholders who are increasingly vocal regarding this topic.

"Even with a clear, strategic direction, organisations may need support to move forward confidently on this topic. Education and culture are therefore of critical importance to any successful sustainable finance transformation, and that is why at EY we are so excited to be supporting this new course with the University of Edinburgh Business School. This is a unique opportunity to inspire and equip financial services professionals to embrace this change and place their organisations in the best possible position for future success."