Financially re-designing the Anthropocene
Investigating tools, data, and practices for climate risks and targets
Capital allocation is a powerful way of distributing agency – both diverting and directing it. The consequences of this feature of financial markets have never been limited to only direct market participants but, of course, stretch out into virtually all spheres of societies and environments. To a large extent, the global climate crisis is one of these consequences. This research project looks at the various finance-focused programmes that are currently pursued to manage the climate crisis as leveraging this feature of financial markets to redistribute – purposefully divert and direct – agency towards more sustainable economies and societies. These programmes could be described, in other words, as attempts to ‘financially re-design’ the Anthropocene.
This four-year academic research project, launched in October 2020, aims at tracing these attempts by focusing on one core challenge: the production of actionable data and analytics for climate risks and alignment targets which enable climate risk and impact management practices in the investment industry. While a lot of different high-level policy, NGO and industry programmes have been initiated, we are interested in how the proposed tools, data, and manuals are implemented, used, changed, and combined in financial every-day practices.
Through the practical integration of climate risk and impact programmes, we currently see a growing and still to-be-consolidated financial climate ‘knowledge infrastructure', which draws on tools and data from an ecosystem of various actors. Climate-related tools, data, and practices that are currently provided and applied by these actors throughout the financial markets are central in dealing with both the impact of climate risks on investments, and the impact investments have on the climate, environments, and societies. Different types of actors that are active in climate-related investment practices ‘on the ground’, and which we currently work with, are: institutional investors, investor networks, analytics and data providers, NGOs, target frameworks, and open-source platforms.
The project seeks to investigate the very practical concerns and challenges that the variety of actors encounter and their efforts to overcome them. It systematically traces and analyses in real-time the activities of those different stakeholders within and across these organisations. Following a qualitative research approach, we are a team of six researchers drawing on observations, interviews, and documents to trace in detail how those different organisations respond to, and engage with climate-related financial risks and alignment targets through deploying and employing climate tools, data, and practices. Currently, we work with six partner organizations in-depth, employing a research approach known as multi-sited ethnography, and in addition, engage in expert interviews with a range of experts across different organisations.
The central goal of this project is academic research in the form of scientific publications, workshops, and conferences. Another significant outcome are practitioner- and policy-directed outputs in the form of direct feedback, workshops, publications, briefs, et cetera, that generate insights into the issues and solutions we encounter and analyse across the field. By tracing the ‘on-the-ground’ work of practitioners over the course of several years amidst a rapidly changing environment, we hope to facilitate a mutual understanding of the challenges and different realities the various types of actors face in the field. With this, we hope to contribute to transparency, constructive debate, and more effective action in dealing with the climate crisis.
Anonymity of participants and confidentiality of original qualitative data is ensured in accordance with the strict principles of academic research at Warwick Business School. With each of our partner organisations, we have arranged non-disclosure and data sharing agreements. Each interviewee is provided with a participation information leaflet that outlines the purpose of the study as well as the participants’ rights to withdraw from the study. We ensure each participant provide informed written or verbal consent before interviews take place.
Our data management follows an elaborate data management plan, and is reviewed regularly to check for inconsistencies. In our written fieldnotes, we use generic job titles, pseudonyms for individuals and organizations, and avoid references to geographical locations.
Ethics approval was obtained by the Humanities & Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC) on 2 June 2020
Reference: HSSREC 154/19-20
Participation information leafletLink opens in a new window | Consent formLink opens in a new window
The project is funded under the Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF) scheme by the UK Research and Innovation Council (UKRI), the UK's largest organization for funding research. The FLF scheme provides long-term support (four years with the possibility for an extension for another three years) for ambitious and challenging research. It aims to develop talented people in universities, businesses, and other research and innovation environments.
The FLF funding lasts from October 2020 to February 2025Reference: MR/T022280/1
More information about the project and interim outcomes can be found in the UKRI database
Academic Advisory board
To support the emerging research directions, we have put together an Academic Advisory Board with whom we meet every 6 to 12 months.
Advisory Board members:
Davide NicoliniLink opens in a new window, Professor of Organisation Studies, Warwick Business School, UK
Yuval MilloLink opens in a new window, Professor of Accounting, Warwick Business School, UK
Paula JarzabkowskiLink opens in a new window, Professor of Strategy, University of Queensland, Australia (until October 2022)