Financing adaptation or adapting finance

A panel of financial experts discuss the rapidly transitioning landscape of climate finance to explore how a variety of public and private financial actors are responding to climate change risks and opportunities, and what role finance can play in adaptation solutions.

This event was held on 21 June 2023.

Climate change is already impacting financial and economic systems – from both the direct impacts of climate change, as well as changing social attitudes and policy positions on how to respond to climate change. As a result, public and private financial actors are pivoting investment strategies and climate portfolios. A range of measures and procedures to adapt finance to these changing climate conditions have emerged, but it is less clear what role public and private finance might play in adaptation solutions more broadly.

A panel of economic experts, regulators and financial consultants explore how the finance sector is affected by climate change and what role it might play in responding to climate change. What strategies are being taken by companies to adapt to climate change and what opportunities are emerging? How effective are these in producing fair and democratic climate futures?

This event is part of the Sydney Environment Institute’s Climate Adaptation series, which explores the strategic and deliberate measures needed to protect individuals and communities from the adverse impacts of climate change. As climate disasters increase in severity and frequency, nations must adapt all sectors of society from infrastructure and food supply chains to investment strategies in a just and sustainable manner. This series, led by SEI Postdoctoral Fellow Justin See, platforms thought leaders across research, business, policy and communities to delve into the opportunities of climate change adaptation and the different scales of change.

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Gareth Bryant, political economist

Gareth Bryant is a Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Research Fellow in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. His research explores how public policy and public finance can create more sustainable, equal and democratic economies. He is the author of Carbon Markets in a Climate-Changing Capitalism and a forthcoming book with Sophie Webber titled Climate Finance: Taking a Position on Climate Futures. Gareth is also a 2023 SEI Collaborative Fellow working alongside Dr Sophie Webber on the project ‘Repairing Australia’s climate economies’.

Graham Sinden, climate risk and financial regulator

Graham Sinden is the Head of Climate Risk at the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), where he leads engagement on climate risk in the finance sector. Graham is a leading expert on climate risk assessment and strategy, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Energy, and a guest lecturer on energy and climate policy and economics at the University of Sydney. Graham’s prior roles include Director in climate change and sustainability at EY; a publicly appointed advisor to the UK Energy Minister; and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Graham holds a PhD and MSc from the University of Oxford, and a BSc from the University of Sydney.

Sophie Webber (Chair), climate finance geographer

Sophie Webber is a Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Research Fellow in Geography in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney. Sophie’s research interests are in the politics and geographies of climate finance, particularly as it relates to paying for and building infrastructure towards adaptation and resilience in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. With Dr Gareth Bryant, she is the author of a forthcoming book on Climate Finance: Taking a Position on Climate Futures and is also a 2023 SEI Collaborative Fellow working alongside him on the project ‘Repairing Australia’s climate economies’.

Zoe Whitton, climate change investment specialist

Zoe Whitton is Head of Impact at Pollination Group, a specialist climate change investment and advisory firm. Zoe assists companies and investors to navigate the impacts of climate change and to build new businesses and products which are transition aligned. She previously led the award-winning APAC ESG Research team at Citi, advising institutional investors globally on climate change and sustainable development. Earlier in her career Zoe covered ESG and climate change at Credit Suisse and at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and served as a youth delegate to the UNFCCC. She serves on the boards of the Investor Group on Climate Change and the Centre for Policy Development, and on the Steering Committee of the Australian Climate Governance Initiative. She is also member of the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute’s Technical Advisory Group, and the Sydney Environment Institute’s Advisory Group. Zoe has won numerous awards for her research and work on climate finance and risk, and regularly contributes to the wider conversation on sustainable finance by commentating in the Australian and international press along with various publications.

Header image: By Chunyip Wong via iStock ID: 1351571961.