The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-reporting

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate Innovation Summit session summaries are available online for those who cannot attendand for review for those present. These summaries aim to extract the key debates, dialogues, and learnings from each #MissionFinance session.

“The Great Debate: Can self-reporting ever be effective for investors?” featured compelling arguments from each side. Beginning with two-thirds of the audience voting in favour that it is, the debaters went on to explore the ways in which self-reporting might already be working—and might not be—as well as whether and how it might be improved. The final vote reflected a polarised audience, revealing the debaters had successfully changed people’s minds.

The panellists on the ‘for’ side were: Andreas Hoepner, Professor of Operational Risk, Banking & Finance, University College Dublin (UCD), Isabelle Laurent, Deputy Treasurer and Head of Funding, EBRD, and Hanna Waltsgott, Responsible Investment Analyst, Kempen Capital Management.

The panellists on the ‘against’ side were: Jakob Thoma, Managing Director, 2dii, Manuel Coeslier, Equity Portfolio Manager, MIROVA, and Dylan Tanner, Founder and Executive Director, InfluenceMap.

Laurent opened the discussion by illustrating how self-reporting is already effective: Four billion dollars have been raised to finance green assets in countries. Furthermore, transparency has been established as a core value of self-reporting.

Coeslier countered with the assertion that the most useful data is aggregated: “Even if we take climate change, even with the most known and used metrics, like carbon footprint, investors face different standards from different companies. For example, scope one and two and three. And, this data is reported with different assumptions therefore it’s impossible for the investor to aggregate the data in the right way.”

Waltsgott said investors already base many of their decisions on self-reported data, like financial statements, and that we can increase reliability and accuracy of data if:

  • Reporting is a requirement, according to sound standards that create comparability
  • It’s verified by an independent party
  • There are incentives to report accurate and reliable data out of self-interest

In his spirited response, Thoma pointed out that green bonds represent only one per cent of the total and they’re fraught with misuse and greenwashing. He said the conditions Waltsgott described will never be met, calling them a “pipe dream” and continued: “Self-reporting can be effective if unicorns fly through the sky.” Why? Because the data is two to three years old once it reaches an investor’s desk and because of granularity, making it impossible to compare it against other investments.

Hoepner walked the stage in an energised closing, claiming that ‘for’ is semantically contained within the debate question itself: “There’s an ‘ever’, it’s a how question.” He went on to explore what was needed for self-reporting to be effective, naming a change in incentives, that the data be verified by financially independent auditors, and that there be liability.

On the ‘against’ side, Tanner said, “The issue here is materiality. The opposition points out the conditions that need to be met for self-reporting to be effective but we’re nowhere close. We’ll have to rely on a ream of externals in a competitive market to reach what we’d like to achieve in the timeframe allowed.”

The final vote changed from its initial two thirds ‘for’ to ultimately favour the ‘against’ side, though it was extremely close.

The moderator, Professor Michael Mainelli, Director, Z/Yen, concluded, “Self-reporting is only a stepping stone to the future… If we get the economics right, corporates and behaviour will follow.”

He left the audience with a  final thought, a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

“What we really need are rigidly defined areas of uncertainty and doubt.”

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 11: Democratise climate risk information
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching ...

It’s a beverage revolution: Healthy hydration while fooling your...

From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching in new markets
In The News
#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enabl...

As part of the fifth SDG Global festival of...

#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enablers
In The News
New EIT initiative to boost innovation in higher education

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is...

New EIT initiative to boost innovation in higher education
In The News
Just transition within reach for Polish coal city Rybnik

“We are preparing plans for the next decade. Mentality is...

Just transition within reach for Polish coal city Rybnik
In The News
Inclusive guide helps communities build urban resilience

The new Urban Action Kit, launched by the International...

Inclusive guide helps communities build urban resilience
In The News
Climate app among DigiEduHack 2020 global finalists

The DigiEduHack, supported by EIT Climate-KIC as well as...

Climate app among DigiEduHack 2020 global finalists
In The News
GreeMko receives Climate Reality Project Award in Spain 

GreeMko (for Green Management Technology), a Spanish start-up that...

GreeMko receives Climate Reality Project Award in Spain 
In The News
What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?

EIT Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Dunlop addressed the...

What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?
In The News
Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change

Starting today, the seventh edition of the global green...

Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change
In The News
Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution

Ensuring that fresh water is available, in a sustainable...

Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution
In The News
Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation

The European Commission released the new EU Climate Adaptation...

Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change

EIT Climate-KIC welcomes the new EU strategy on adaptation...

EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change
In The News
Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities

A labyrinth of cobblestone streets, dimly lit and presided...

Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities
In The News
Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neig...

EIT Climate-KIC is working with the city of Leuven...

Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neighbourhood
In The News
Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience

Start Park, a project led by citizens from Florence,...

Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience
In The News
New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners

Following its Open Call, the New Accelerator programme has...

New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners
In The News
New videogame builds climate awareness among players

Change Game, a videogame financed by EIT Climate-KIC and...

New videogame builds climate awareness among players
In The News
Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations

Carlota Mateos and Juan Vila, co-founders of PlenEat have...

Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations
In The News
Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks, a carbon capture technology, is...

Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio
In The News
Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs

The peer-to-peer learning platform for governments, Apolitical, included EIT...

Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs
In The News
New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC and developed by its partner...

New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

EIT Climate-KIC will be taking part in the Climate...

EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
In The News
Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards ...

A total of 140 teams of citizen finalists applied...

Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards 2020
In The News
Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as 46th...

Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition

It is no secret that to tackle climate change...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition
In The News
New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction

This week marks the launch of NoMuWood.com, an EIT...

New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction
In The News
European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action

On Wednesday 16 December, the European Commission is launching...

European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action
In The News
“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melissa Capcha. Five years on...

“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris
In The News
“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Gopal Kumar Mohoto. Five years...

“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”
In The News
“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz. Five years...

“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”