Why Investors are Worrying About Climate Change

Image by Markus Spiske, sourced from Unsplash.
Wednesday 22 May 2019, 6.00pm - 7.30pm

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Law Foyer, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney


Part One of the Business Making of Climate Change series 

“One of the most significant, and perhaps most misunderstood, risks that organizations face today relates to climate change…The large scale and long term nature of the problem makes it uniquely challenging, especially in the context of economic decision making. Accordingly, many organizations incorrectly perceive the implications of climate change to be long term and, therefore, not necessarily relevant to decisions made today.” – Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures

Climate change poses legal, regulatory, reputational, technological, market as well as physical threats to business. This seminar examines these many risks, with particular emphasis on the perspective of investors. Why are financial regulators, investors and other entities demanding greater insight into the financial risks and opportunities posed by climate change? Are businesses responding to these demands? If so, how? And does that response hold up under scrutiny? This event brings together investors, lawyers and academics as they consider these questions. In doing so, the speakers will outline the case for publicly listed companies to develop governance structures, risk management, strategies, metrics and targets for climate-related risks and opportunities that, where material, are disclosed in annual financial reports.


Sarah Barker, MinterEllison
Emma Herd, Investor Group on Climate Change
Kate Bromley, QIC
Jillian Reid, Mercer
Zoe Whitton, Citi

Dr Tanya Fiedler (Chair), University of Sydney Business School

About the Business Making of Climate Change series 

In contrast to our political elites, the last 3-5 years have seen a rapid acceleration in awareness of climate change as a business risk. This re-framing of the climate crisis, from an environmental to an economic concern, is in large part a product of announcements made – not by scientists or policy makers – but by representatives of the financial system. The Business Making of Climate Change series of public talks brings together investors, lawyers, insurers, corporates, consultants and scientists, as they collectively consider why climate change is increasingly relevant to the business community, as well as how businesses can make sense of climate change in a way that is relevant to them. The series is convened by Dr Tanya Fiedler and produced by Michelle St Anne.


Sarah Barker is Special Counsel at Minter Ellison. She helps corporations and institutional investors manage dynamic environmental, social and governance risks through a corporate governance lens. Sarah has particular expertise in the climate change-related exposures under corporate and securities (rather than ‘environmental’) laws – including directors’ fiduciary duties and financial reporting/disclosure obligations. Sarah’s work at the forefront of international developments with institutions from the Bank of England, United Nations PRI and the European Union, allows her to provide practical, progressive advice to listed corporations, investors and government agencies in Australia. She is an experienced director, currently sitting on the board of one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia. She has taught the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ CDC for more than a decade.

Kate Bromley is Head of Responsible investment at QIC, an investment manager specialising in diversified alternatives and liquid markets that invests $86 billion on behalf of over 100 global clients. Working closely with the QIC Board and executive management, Kate leads and implements the development of QIC’s ESG strategy. Kate works with QIC’s investment teams to integrate material ESG consideration into investment decision making processes. Kate joined QIC in 2016 and has 11 years’ experience holding ESG roles in the investment management industry. Previously, Kate worked at QSuper where she led the development of the fund’s ESG program.

Zoe Whitton is the Head of Australian ESG Research at Citi. She previously covered ESG and thematics at Credit Suisse and at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She has also worked as an analyst at the Oxford Smith School and the Stockholm Environmental Institute, served as a youth delegate to the UNFCCC, and worked in management consulting in the energy and industrials sectors. She sits on the Management Committee of the Investor Group on Climate Change, presently acts as a mentor at EnergyLab, and is a member of the founding committee of Women in Sustainable Finance. She holds Masters degrees in environmental policy and economics from Oxford University and the University of Queensland.

Jillian Reid is a Principal in Mercer’s responsible investment team, advising super funds and other institutional investors on how to integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, sustainability trends, climate change, and stewardship, within investment processes and balance ‘risk, return, and reputation’. In addition, Jillian contributes to new research and was project manager and co-author for Mercer’s 2015 Investing in a Time of Climate Change report and The Sequel (April 2019). Jillian has 20 years of financial services experience in Australia and the UK, 8 of those in responsible investment, after beginning her career in teaching.

Tanya Fiedler is a lecturer in the Discipline of Accounting. Tanya’s current research interests lie in the ways in which the measurement methods and data of science are translated into accounting information. In this regard, Tanya has a particular interest in accounting for the climate.Tanya completed her PhD at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia in 2016. Tanya’s thesis examined the making of Australia’s first nation-wide carbon market, by means of a longitudinal analysis of archival documents spanning 15 years. Tanya is currently working with multiple partners in industry and the climate science community, to examine how climate models and data can be utilised by the financial services and investment sector to manage climate opportunities and risk. Prior to her academic career, Tanya worked as a consultant for Energetics, a specialist carbon and energy consultancy.