By Helena Wright & Jon Dennis

In the lead up to the UN Climate Conference at COP26, there have been increasing calls for financial institutions to make commitments to net zero greenhouse gas emissions. While the ambition by some has been welcomed, we should not run into the trap of thinking that a net zero emission portfolio, for example by 2050, will necessarily lead us to a safe, carbon-neutral world.

The problem is that transitioning investment portfolios towards net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 may not be consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C in the real…


Disclaimer: The views in this article are not attributable to any organisation.

Infrastructure — such as for energy and transport — currently makes up 60% or more of greenhouse gas emissions. The world now faces the challenge of building infrastructure to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but at the same time, reducing emissions to zero, and preventing the global extinction crisis.

Do we need to be more radical in designing infrastructure to meet global climate and nature goals? Design principles such as circularity, energy efficiency, and resource efficiency could become a first principle for infrastructure planners to reduce the…


By Helena Wright & Saleemul Huq

Disclaimer: The views in this article are not attributable to any organisation.

Under the UN, reduction of emissions(mitigation) and resilience (adapting to climate change impacts) are often treated as two discrete areas. But as the world is already experiencing the impacts of climate change — such as the recent ‘super cyclone’ and flooding in Bangladesh, or the wildfires in Australia — we are going to have to adapt our infrastructure to be more resilient at the same time as we move to a net zero economy.

Experts have often highlighted that reducing emissions and…


By Adrian Fenton and Helena Wright

With the Covid-19 pandemic bringing global healthcare systems to near collapse, the trauma, ongoing loss of life and wider economic and social impacts could affect an entire generation. Governments will need to halt the spread of the virus and then rebuild our economy. The world is now facing multiple crises at the same time — the pandemic and an ongoing nature and climate emergency.

The Covid-19 pandemic has already led to economic stimulus packages being proposed or developed across the world. Central banks and financial regulators have a key role in stimulus packages which…


The high-profile decision by Greta Thunberg to travel to New York by boat for the UN Climate Action Summit highlights a stark reality. Our individual decisions, such as flying or eating meat, do make a collective difference in terms of climate impact.

Recently, some scientists have argued that climate action should primarily be about systemic change, rather than individual lifestyle change. Climate scientist Michael Mann recently argued “we need systemic changes that will reduce everyone’s carbon footprint, whether or not they care”.

It has also been argued by Mary Heglar that in the US, industries have historically sponsored adverts that…


By Helena Wright

When the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out in 2018, there was widespread media coverage of the headline that we have 12 years to avert climate catastrophe.

Where does the ‘12 years’ headline come from? This is based on the number of years we have left until the carbon budget is used up for 1.5°C of warming — the level needed to save most of the world’s coral reefs.

However, the headline might have given people a false sense of security. In my opinion, ‘12 years’ is too optimistic. …


By Helena Wright, E3G and Glenn Pearce-Oroz, SEforAll

Image: Niall Kennedy, Flickr

NOTE: A version of this article was originally published by Asia Times

If we are to successfully stabilize the world’s climate and get to a 1.5ºC world, energy efficiency will play a crucial role. As leaders attend the Asian Development Bank Annual Meetings in Fiji this week, it’s time to zero-in on the trillion-dollar opportunity available by investing in energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency pays for itself. By lowering energy demand, it reduces the need to build costly new power plants and will make it much easier to shift…


While the IPCC report focused on the impacts of 1.5°C of warming, we have to face facts — we are headed for a more extreme scenario based on current commitments.

This year the world saw extreme cyclones in the Pacific, US and Japan, and temperature records broken in Japan, Korea, Norway, Ireland, and the African Continent. The risk of catastrophe grow higher all around the world.

However, despite these increasing climate risks, it’s clear we regulate the insurance sector, and probably many other sectors, to a higher standard than we regulate our impact on the planet.

Many of us buy…


By Dr Helena Wright, E3G & Nezir Sinani, BIC Europe

Photo: Veejay Villafranca/Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities

Last year, the World Bank Group led the way on greater climate action with a commitment to end upstream oil and gas finance, a step which several groups had been calling for. However, there is an important loophole remaining in the Bank’s support for coal power.

With the UN Climate Change negotiations being held this week in Bangkok, amidst a year of record-breaking temperatures, the time has come for the World Bank to look further into this issue.

While the World Bank Group already excludes funding to coal plants except…

Dr Helena Wright

“Now is not the time for speaking politely“. Trying to solve the climate crisis. Working on #sustainablefinance #greenfinance #climatechange #fossilfree

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