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Refresh the Debate: the changing role of carbon finance

Rebecca Fay | 31 July 2014 |

Marc Bolland, CEO of M&S, recently stated his commitment to the role of carbon finance in communities vulnerable to climate change. But what will it take for other leaders to follow? M&S, The CarbonNeutral Company and UNICEF hosted a round table discussion with 20 leading UK companies to debate the issues.

M&S role of carbon finance

At a recent event, Marc Bolland, CEO of M&S, demonstrated his personal commitment to the role of carbon finance in building resilience for communities vulnerable to climate change. He was specifically responding to UNICEF’s recent launch into the carbon offset market with an improved cookstove project in Bangladesh – considered one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world according to the Global Climate Change Alliance. The project, which was launched earlier this year and is being supported by M&S, aims to reduce the health impacts of indoor air pollution from traditional stoves; impacts which mainly effect women and children and are estimated to lead to 32,000 children and 14,000 women dying each year in the country.

The event, which was hosted by M&S, along with UNICEF and The CarbonNeutral Company, was a round table discussion with 20 executives from leading UK companies. Chaired by Jonathon Porritt from Forum for the Future and with representatives from organisations such as Tesco, PwC, Coca-Cola and BT, it presented an ideal opportunity to debate what’s required if carbon finance is to be deployed more widely by business to deliver scale and impact on global emissions quickly. How do we move away from the tired old criticisms of carbon offsetting and see the opportunities presented by innovative, high quality projects which are financed based on results, and deliver a host of benefits to biodiversity, health and well-being, job creation and food security?

Having watched a video of Paddy Ashdown’s visit to UNICEF’s Bangladesh project and seeing the effects of indoor air pollution and benefits of improved stoves first hand, it would be tricky for the attendees round the table to be critical: carbon finance being used to deliver development goals in a country with more than 48 million people living below the poverty line, in addition to the emission reductions. Hopefully projects like this will enable a refreshed attitude, where carbon finance is seen one of many smart solutions to the challenge of global carbon emissions and the creation of climate resilience.

Read our paper about the round-table discussion here.