In the fireside chat with the Co-chairs of the G20 Sustainable Finance Study Group, Ma Jun and Michael Sheren both highlighted pertinent issues regarding climate change and there were various difficult questions regarding climate change and sustainability that were asked.
For a start, both Ma Jun and Michael Sheren highlighted that while other crises call for attention now, they are still confident that countries are still on the right track towards mitigating climate change. They highlighted the importance of convincing people that there would be positive externalities from the green energy transition that will be seen in the long term.
Ma Jun emphasized how China is pushing its people to make decisions that gear them towards carbon neutrality, and how the country is rewarding those who do make the green changes in their businesses.
“We need to make sure that most of the long-term decisions involving a lot of money from the private sector or the public sector should still be geared towards (being) green and carbon-neutral despite the fact that in the short term, we are facing all these difficult choices.”Ma Jun
Michael Sheren added that these are long-term decisions that have to be made in the short term, making it difficult for some. However, he highlighted that should people make the correct decisions, it would cost more money now, but it would be “much cheaper and less inflationary now than waiting till later and having to retrofit.”
When asked about the public opinion in China with regards to the climate issue, Ma Jun confidently answered that the country is actively publishing reports encouraging the shift towards carbon neutrality as it would bring great benefits and opportunities for the financial sector, etc. He also highlighted that if the shift is not made, in 10 years, people would probably have a lot of stranded assets. This sort of information greatly shapes many market players’ opinions, making them shift to more sustainable forms of business.
Following this line of thought, Michael Sheren added that communication with the people is key to making this shift, as currently, many are still not convinced that sustainability and carbon neutrality are the right paths for the future. He urges policymakers to highlight how the shift towards sustainability will create more jobs in the future.
In closing, both Michael Sheren and Ma Jun agree that the solutions we need for a sustainable economy are all out there, just not in the right place and not used effectively to develop results.
“All the changes, all the technology for a new sustainable economy are there, basically we just need for that impetus, that drive, to take place to get them on.”Michael Sheren
Hence, they both agree that the market needs to play a bigger role in the shift towards sustainability and urge people to step up to make use of these solutions.