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Dr Katharina Dittrich, UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship

Financially Redesigning 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.

Launched in 2020, Dr Katharina Dittrich's four-year 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.

 

The research project

The project aims to trace these attempts by focusing on one core challenge: the production of actionable data and analytics for climate risks and alignment targets that enable climate risk and impact management practices in the investment industry.

While a lot of different high-level policy, NGO and industry programmes have recently been initiated, we are interested in how the proposed tools, data and manuals are actually implemented, used and combined in financial everyday 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.

Capital allocation is a powerful way of distributing agency – both diverting and directing it.

 

This project investigates the production of actionable data and analytics for climate risks and alignment targets.

Actors in climate-related investment practices

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.

Four 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.

Methodology

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 four 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.

 

Find out more about Dr Dittrich's research