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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


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DEI Seminar Series: Financing net zero: how the financial sector is shaping low-carbon innovation

12th December 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, E245, Engineering Department, Dr Bregje Van Veelen

Finance plays a key role in enabling or constraining low-carbon transitions. Signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement are committed to ‘Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’. As countries step up their commitment to achieving ‘net zero’, the growth of green finance is increasingly vital. As a growing number of scenarios are produced indicating the likely scale and nature of the investments required, social research insights can provide insights into the ways in which investment is taking place and its consequences for society and environment across diverse contexts, from local to global.

In this talk I will explore (1) how financial actors distinguish 'high' from 'low' carbon activities; and (2) the consequences for what low-carbon innovations are financed, and how. While the question of what is high carbon vs low carbon might in first instance seem obvious, my research with financial actors and other stakeholders shows that this is often less clear than anticipated. As a result, a variety of institutions, tools and practices have sprung up to help financial actors make this decision - with important consequences for the ways in which low-carbon action is taking shape.

Bregje Van Veelen is a DEI fellow and a Post Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography at Durham University on the Horizon 2020-funded REINVENT project: Realising Innovation in Transitions for Decarbonisation, which looks at different economic sectors where low carbon transitions are still relatively unexplored, such as plastics, steel and agriculture. Part of Bregje’s work focuses on the role financial actors and networks play in shaping the potential for decarbonisation in these sectors.

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