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Financially redesigning the Anthropocene: Investigating tools, data, and practices for climate risks and targets

PI: Katharina Dittrich

Funding: UK Research and Innovation Council, Future Leaders Fellowship

Date: October 2020 to September 2024

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.

The research project

This four-year academic research project, funded by the UK Research and Innovation Council and 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 recently been initiated, we are interested in how the proposed tools, data and manuals are actually implemented, used 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. 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, and 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.

Katharina Dittrich

Dr Katharina Dittrich

Katharina Dittrich is Associate Professor of Organisation Studies in the Organisation and Human Resource Management (OHRM) Group at Warwick Business School. Her research interests include climate change, organizational change, organizational routines/ routine dynamics and strategy, with an emphasis on practice-theoretical approaches and qualitative research methods.

Julius Kob

Juluis Kob

Julius Kob is a Research Fellow at Warwick Business School with research interests in economic sociology, social studies of finance, science and technology studies, risk modelling, climate change and disaster studies. In his PhD research since 2016 at the University of Edinburgh, he has been working on natural catastrophe risk in financial services with an emphasis on socio-materiality in epistemic market practices, primarily catastrophe modelling, and its interdependence with socio-materially realising catastrophe in Anthropocene market society.

Mohamed Qaddoura

Mohamed Qaddoura

Mohamed Qaddoura is a PhD researcher at Warwick Business School (WBS), with both a prior full-time MBA and MSc in Marketing & Strategy from WBS. He was awarded the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (PhD Scholarship recipient) in 2020 to work with Katharina and Julius on the project. His main theoretical area of interest is in risk management, specifically riskwork with a focus on the novel subtypes of risk. His ongoing doctoral project consists of an ethnographic study in riskwork with climate change as the focal example of novel risk.