Stephen is Head of Government Affairs and Policy at the Net Zero Technology Centre, where his mission is to enable the development and deployment of technology for an affordable net-zero energy future.
He has extensive interaction with Scottish and UK Government officials on the subjects of energy transition, innovation and policy. He is vice president of the Scottish Energy Forum, a member of the North East SCDI committee and a member of the SCDI Policy Committee.
Stephen is passionate about achieving the energy transition, reducing fuel poverty, and making Scotland thrive. He is convinced that City Regions will be major agents for change, reshaping our lived experience and redesigning our city spaces to become sustainable net zero environments. He is a regular writer, podcaster and commentator on net zero technologies and issues.
Stephen has a BA degree in Communication Studies from Glasgow Caledonian University and an MSc in International Marketing from the University of Strathclyde.
Over Christmas (which seems a long time ago now) I had the opportunity to watch Mark Carney deliver his series of Reith Lectures on the BBC. Until recently, he served as Governor of the Bank of England, but now he has a few new roles as the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Climate Finance and also as the Finance Advisor to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, where he prepares for the next crucial climate change conference in Glasgow this November.
The Reith Lectures are always interesting, but this particular series really caught my attention. For here was one of the worlds most eminent bankers arguing that the roots of our environmental emergency ‘dig deep into a crisis of values’. What I found fascinating however, is that he maintains that market values are going through a fundamental shift, towards valuing resilience, solidarity and sustainability. He makes a strong case that the finance sector is leading that shift.
“If society sets a clear goal, it will become profitable to be part of the solution, and costly to remain part of the problem.”
Carney reckons that in all the conversations he has with institutional investors he is hearing the same question over and over again, these investors want to know, ‘What is your plan to get to net zero?’.
It is a great question, and in a Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) year it is a question that every organisation needs to start thinking about and working on.
Insight60 this Friday is therefore hugely topical. Robert Gardner from St. James’s Place Wealth Management will be examining how environmental, social and governance issues are now top of the agenda for investors, they are asking large corporates to explain their plans to achieve net zero. If they don’t have one, then they may struggle to get access to capital.
But even in a COP year it can seem to small companies that these questions have no relevance for the ordinary ‘widget supplier’ or ‘drone manufacturer’. Yet technology developers have an opportunity here, to audit their own activities to ensure net zero can be achieved. By doing so, they can stay competitive and develop new technologies to enable green house gas reductions.
The good news is that the market has an appetite to invest in technologies that will enable net zero and reduce emissions. Governments are also willing to support technology projects that will help deliver its objectives of a net zero society and new, green jobs.
In our recent report, ‘Closing the Gap’ (OGTC 2020), we identified several net zero enabling technologies that need investment. Investment not just from government to prime the activity, but also from business to get projects up and running. There are solid investment returns to be made in technology development and finance for net zero enabling technologies will be made available because the market is demanding action.
Maybe the former Governor of the Bank of England is right, it might just be that Finance will super charge the race to net zero.
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