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Climate law & finance

Financial regulation and the role of leaders in the transition to Net Zero

Addressing the climate crisis will require the reorientation of markets and private capital in a very tight timeframe. Dr Megan Bowman was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship (RF-2020-441\8) to investigate unprecedented climate-related efforts by early-moving central banks and financial market regulators in the UK, Netherlands, and France to: map this nascent regulatory space; explore regulatory paradoxes, responses, challenges and implications for a timely net zero transition; and provide a much-needed ‘regulatory voice’ in sustainable finance discourse.

This Insights Report sets out the project's findings in four focus areas: legal mandate; new ways of ‘thinking and doing’; regulatory tools: disclosure; and regulatory tools beyond disclosure.

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Westminster Forum: Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050

Centre Director, Dr Megan Bowman, was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the Westminster conference Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 - policy frameworks and collaboration, decarbonisation in key sectors and local areas, and encouraging behavioural change, held online on 12 May 2020.

Providing expert recommendations on how to accelerate the UK’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, Dr Bowman focused on research findings regarding Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement and legal readiness for climate finance in a COVID-impacted world. Speakers and attendees included Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials, private industry and NGOs in environmental and energy-intensive sectors, local government and media.

Roundtable on Paris Agreement objectives

The Outcome Report: Legal Roundtable on Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement (June 2020) summarises the findings of a specialist roundtable co-convened by King’s College London and Aviva Investors. This roundtable brought together expert legal and policy specialists to analyse Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement regarding "making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development" and to discuss a proposed International Platform on Climate Finance to support this objective.

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The Private Sector and Legal Readiness for Climate Finance

Addressing climate change will require increased flows of private capital and more effective leveraging of public capital globally. Efforts by the private sector will help countries to meet their international commitments under the Paris Agreement; and capital-allocation decisions by the market will facilitate the transition (or not) to a low-carbon economy. Those efforts and decisions are shaped by law and regulation as well as policy. Having ‘legal readiness’ for climate finance can encourage investor confidence.

So how can law-makers, regulators, and practitioners work together to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement? What is – and should be – the role of law and regulation for a truly systemic transformation by enabling finance at scale, encouraging project pipeline, and ensuring corollary benefits of enhancing economic and social development in a sustainable way? What risks and opportunities are emerging for the private sector to support this transition? These were questions posed to a public of experts to close proceedings of an invite-only workshop on 25 January 2019.

Climate Finance Law: Legal Readiness for Climate Finance

The report, Climate Finance Law: Legal Readiness for Climate Finance, authored by Dr Megan Bowman and Dr Katrien Steenmans, summarises the findings of the three-day workshop of the same name co-convened by King’s and UN Environment in March 2018. The workshop is part of an ongoing partnership to stimulate collaborations and mutual learning between public and private stakeholders in developing and developed countries for transformational change.

The workshop was structured around:
1. scholarly research on the legal dimensions of climate finance and practical tools for law and policy makers to analyse legal readiness for climate finance, and;
2. the practical experiences of Mexico and Kenya as early-moving countries that have undertaken legal and regulatory initiatives to enable increased public and private climate finance.

Delegates comprised government and parliamentary officials from Kenya, Mexico and the UK, as well as participants from UN bodies, multilateral financial institutions, private consultancies, and academia.

The workshop and report were funded by a 2017 King’s Together Seed Award. The grant team comprises Dr Megan Bowman (Law) and Dr Helen Adams (Geography) as Principal Investigators and Professor Juliane Reinecke (Business) and Dr Katrien Steenmans (Law) as Co-Investigators.

Climate Law and Finance - booklet cover

Ideas Lab in Climate Law & Finance: Tragedy on the horizon or time for improvement?

In January 2017, King's hosted a roundtable event 'Ideas Lab in Climate Law & Finance: Tragedy on the horizon or time for improvement?'. Invited experts came together to consider opportunities for facilitating a timely climate-related systemic change in financial, corporate and legal thinking and practice to move beyond ‘business-as-usual but with a lemon twist’. This was also an opportunity to take stock and share experiences of important work from 2016 and debate likely directions for 2017 and beyond.

Find out more about the roundtable by watching the video on the right.

Banking on Climate Change

The imperative to move to a low-carbon existence calls for the most significant market and economic transition in modern history. This will require massive financial input so it is essential to understand the ever-increasing role of private finance actors - banks, insurers, institutional investors - in helping to meet this global challenge.

Dr Megan Bowman's book, Banking on Climate Change: How Finance Actors and Transnational Regulatory Regimes Are Responding (Kluwer, 2015), is an in-depth, qualitative study involving post-GFC interviews with senior bank personnel and non-government organisations in key market economies. The study opened a window on financial decision-making to provide lessons for regulators, lawyers, and scholars.

The book was officially launched at King's College London in November 2015, where invited speakers joined Dr Bowman to discuss the broader current issues of corporate social responsibility, legal and policy options, and innovative practices in harnessing private finance for socio-environmental benefit.

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