Climate Solutions at Work

Finance

Finance is critical to avoiding a climate crisis: the world needs to mobilize US$4–5 trillion annually to keep atmospheric warming below 2°C—eight times what we’re currently spending. This is why you, as a finance professional, can make a big difference. You can direct corporate finances and investments toward climate solutions, while at the same time divesting from sources of the problem, aligning your organization's finances and investments with its climate goals and reducing financial risk for the organization and employees.

If you’re a budget and financial analyst, you can make the business case for investing in climate solutions. If you’re a treasurer, you can help track and reduce the carbon footprint of your company’s cash holdings. If you work in cost estimation, you can integrate climate considerations into pricing for products and services. Whatever your specific role, you can use your analytical, project management, and research skills to advance climate solutions.

To make your finance job a climate job:

Banking
  • Learn more about your company’s banking relationships. Direct decision-makers toward banks that are: 

  1. minimally financing the fossil fuel industry and deforestation; 
  2. shifting their financing to climate solutions
  3. committing to aggressive anti-fossil fuel policies, like prohibiting loans to the tar sands, oil and gas, and coal industries; and 
  4. calculating their financed emissions. (See this great example of reevaluating corporate banking from Patagonia).
Lending
  • Gather a group of your colleagues (ideally, in conjunction with company leadership) to express concern to your bank over its fossil fuel lending and lack of transition plan, which is misaligned with your company’s climate commitments (see resources below).
Insurance
  • If your company works with an insurance broker, inform them that you want to consider not only policies and pricing during each insurance renewal, but also the sustainability of insurance carriers.
Cash
  • Encourage decision-makers to allocate excess cash to banks that are fossil fuel-free, B Corp, or members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).*

    * For those companies looking to invest excess cash into marketable securities and other liquid investments, there are a range of ESG and climate-aligned investment opportunities offered by many investment managers. 

  • While large established banks are needed for many of your company’s financial services, lower impact services and excess cash can be held with highly value-aligned banks.

Employee retirement benefits
  • Using the resources below, team up with the human resources and operations team to evaluate whether retirement plans, 401(k)s, and other portfolios are invested in fossil fuels—and if they are, work to shift the default retirement option to a climate-safe one (or, at minimum, offer multiple climate-friendly funds in their place).
Borrowers and suppliers
  • Offer borrowers and suppliers better terms and rates when they reach certain sustainability milestones (see examples here and here).
Investments
  • Invest in products, strategies, and businesses that align your company with climate solutions.
Team travel
  • Minimize carbon-intensive business travel for you and your team, and opt for virtual gatherings. If possible, instead of flying, choose lower-carbon travel options, such as the train.
Fostering dialogue and action
  • Build community with other climate-concerned colleagues within your team and beyond.  Come together to brainstorm ways you can take action, and raise your collective concern at team and all-staff meetings.
Ready to take action?Here are some questionsand ideas to help youget started: 

Take stock: Identify your company’s corporate sustainability and climate commitments, if any. Are these goals connected to your team’s goals? Can you integrate the above actions into your company, team, or individual performance objectives? What banks and insurance companies does your company work with, and do they finance fossil fuel projects? Does your company disclose its greenhouse gas emissions and financial climate risk? If so, what standards does it use? Are your retirement plans, 401(k)s, and other portfolios invested in fossil fuels and deforestation? 

Make needed changes or reach out to someone else who can: What decision-making power do you have? Can you implement these actions yourself, or do you need to raise the issue with a supervisor? Is anyone with decision-making power already on board with climate action? Or is there someone you might be able to influence? Test the waters by sharing your own interest in climate action with other key colleagues and gauging their response. Consult power-mapping tools for help.

You don’t have to do it alone: Find others in your department who are also climate-concerned. Join forces to show broad support for integrating climate action into finance and throughout the organization. Consider writing a letter or petition to leadership or bringing up your concerns at an all-staff meeting (something that will grab leadership’s attention!).

Need help making the business case? 

Moving your company’s investments and finances away from the fossil fuel industry is no cause for financial concern. According to BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, investors don’t experience negative performance from divesting from fossil fuels. This is because financial institutions that have strong environmental track records usually have stronger social impact and corporate governance records as well. These institutions also benefit from considering the long term value of their assets.

Resources 

The Drawdown Labs Job Function Action Guides will help employees understand how their roles are critical in addressing the climate crisis, as well as implement high-impact solutions and navigate key considerations for taking action inside the workplace.

Board of Directors
Strategy
Product
Development
Sustainability
Communications
Partnerships
and Community
Affairs

Please note: This graphic is illustrative of how different teams across a company must work together to achieve strong climate action. We encourage you to examine your organization’s own unique structure to determine how to best coordinate and integrate climate action across functions.

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