- Kerry Adams-Strump, director of group ESG, Prudential
- Laura Cha, chairman, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX)
- Shin Furuno, senior manager - ESG Strategy and Solutions, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank
- Eric Nietsch, head of ESG, Asia, Manulife Investment Management
- Eddie Yue, chief executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)
COP26 may have taken place in Glasgow, but Asia was very much on its participants’ minds. Rightfully so: according to a recent study, of the 100 cities in the world most at risk from climate change, 99 are in this region. In this context, commitments to reach carbon neutrality made by several Asian governments—including those of Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia and China—before and during the conference were welcome. Their challenge, of course, is to translate commitment to action. The record to date is far from promising: of ten Asia-Pacific countries monitored by the Climate Action Tracker, the measures taken by nine of them to meet the 1.5-degree global warming target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement are deemed “highly” or “critically” insufficient.
Particularly in the emerging world, countries cannot hope to meet their carbon-reduction commitments without very large amounts of public and private investment, probably exceeding the annual target of US$100 billion of climate finance that was re-confirmed in Glasgow. This helps explain an intensification of discussions within the international finance community in recent years about how to unlock such levels of investment. Investment industry executives we interviewed for this report consider this an extremely positive development. One is Eric Nietsch, Asia head of ESG (environmental, social, governance) at Manulife Investment Management: “There is a new sense in the investment industry that it really needs to step up its decarbonisation efforts, and we’re seeing a lot of big commitments from large, systemically important institutions. Now they need to translate those into concrete actions.”
According to Eddie Yue, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the role played by asset owners (AOs) in supporting greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction is critical, as “the capital flows to be mobilised to meet these targets go well beyond the scale of any one state or agency.”