Finance 32 posts

The CUSP work programme is looking at sustainable finance from various angles. Our research aims to develop a powerful new framing of investment in terms of a meaningful ‘commitment to the future’. This framing is motivated in part by the lessons from the financial crisis, where speculative, short-term investment was instrumental in undermining financial stability, and in part by the investment needs inherent in the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. Resource productivity, low-carbon infrastructure and the protection of habitats and ecosystems all demand a new portfolio of investment with new governance and facilitating conditions.

Our research aims both to understand the macro-economic challenges posed by this new portfolio and also to explore the pragmatic innovations needed to deliver it. In pursuit of these goals we are (i) developing new economic models of sustainable finance and (ii) engaging with stakeholders at the local, national and international level to transform the insights arising from this research into practice. Our modelling aims to explore issues as varied as: the stranding of conventional (fossil fuel) assets; the stability of financial (and social) returns on sustainable assets; and the relevance of new local and community-led finance for sustainable prosperity. Our stakeholders include businesses, policy-makers, parliamentarians, civil society organisations and the wider public. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive regular updates.

Which financial architecture can protect environmental commons? | Article by Nick Molho and Tim Jackson
The discourse around ‘natural capital’ potentially offers a way to integrate decisions about the commons effectively into economic decisions. Investing in the commons is key to protecting the flow of services provided to society by natural capital. Recent exploration of the potential for investing in natural infrastructure has highlighted numerous mechanisms, which could help turn this proposition into a reality.
The Dilemma of Growth | Panel debate w CUSP Director Tim Jackson and Deutsche Bank Chief Economist David Folkerts-Landau
As part of the 2018 ZEIT Wirtschaftsforum, CUSP Director Tim Jackson and Deutsche Bank Chief Economist David Folkerts-Landau were invited for a debate on the dilemma of growth, the relevance of GDP growth for wellbeing, and the political feasibility of a postgrowth agenda.
Rethinking Economic Policy in the EU | 2018 Post-Growth Conference w Tim Jackson, Brussels 18-20 Sept 2018
Scientists, politicians, and policymakers gathering in Brussels for landmark conference: Hosted at the EU parliament, the multi-stakeholder event is exploring visions and solutions for a post-growth economy in Europe.
Can the financial system work for the economy, people & the planet? | Lecture by Nick Silver
The current financial system developed to serve capitalism 1.0, a world of mass employment based on producing physical goods. This world is ceasing to exist – this talk will discuss the trends that are causing the change, and how finance needs to change to serve the economy of the future.
CUSP shortlisted for 2018 ICAEW/A4S Finance For The Future Award
The finalists for Finance for the Future Awards 2018 have been announced by the founding organisations, ICAEW and A4S, and their partner Deloitte. CUSP was shortlisted in the Driving Change Through Education, Training and Academia award, which recognises the contribution of individuals, organisations or partnerships in driving action towards integrating sustainability through education, training and academia. Now in its seventh year, the awards ceremony will take place on 16 October 2018.
Monetising nature: a metaphor too far? | Blog by Aled Jones
Natural Capital Valuation is a fiercely debated approach to account for nature in business and management decision processes. A new report by Aled Jones and colleagues finds that without extra checks in place to accompany the valuation frameworks, there is a real risk that biodiversity loss actually worsens as monetisation tools are embedded — and that they are not being used as intended.
Against all odds? Modelling the low-carbon transition | Blog by Martin Sers
Can renewable energy supply grow rapidly enough to both, cover societies growing energy needs and displace fossil fuel use sufficiently to keep carbon emissions below some “safe” level? — the leading question of a recent CUSP paper in Ecological Economics. In this blog, Martin Sers is summarising the findings.
The Energy-Emissions Trap | Journal Paper by Martin Sers and Peter Victor
The requirement to reduce emissions to avoid potentially dangerous climate change implies a dilemma for societies heavily dependent on fossil fuels. As renewable capacity requires energy to construct there is an initial fossil fuel cost to creating new renewable capacity. An insufficiently rapid transition to renewables, it turns out, will imply a scenario in which it is impossible to avoid either transgressing emissions ceilings or facing energy shortages.
T h i s is not all there is: Thinking utopias as ideas and practices | Blog by Will Davies
'Utopias' is one of the cross-cutting themes in CUSP, spanning our various research programmes. In this blog, Will Davies is reflecting on what the concept of utopia can offer in terms of its prefigurative potential, and how it is informing our interdisciplinary research.
Filling the finance gap for early stage green innovations | Blog by Fergus Lyon
The green economy of the future will be shaped by the innovative enterprises emerging today. But picking the winners of tomorrow is notoriously difficult. Small entrepreneurial businesses wanting to contribute to the transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy may have the desire to scale up, but without the trading track record or the assets for collateral, they may be turned down by banks and other investors.
System Error | New documentary w Tim Jackson investigating the paradigm of ‘economic growth’
Why are we so obsessed with economic growth, knowing that it has devastating effects on our finite planet (and ultimately us)? SYSTEM ERROR looks for answers to this principal contradiction of our time and considers global capitalism from the perspective of those who run it.
The role of government policy in financing early stage green innovation | Journal Paper by R Owen, G Brennan and F Lyon
This paper focuses on the role of the public sector in addressing finance gaps for longer-term investment requirements from seed investment through to early growth commercialisation of green innovation activities. Peer reviewed literature is identified from international studies, complemented by illustrative policy documents where evidence of impact is reported.
Towards the New Normal — How to Increase Investment in the UK’s Green Infrastructure | Report
Strategic government intervention can maximise opportunities for private green infrastructure investment, our 'Investing in the Future' project report with the Aldersgate Group finds, setting out a full list of recommendations for government and industry.
Green Shoots from the Green Investment Bank, or a lost opportunity? | Blog by Fergus Lyon
The Green Investment Bank (GIB) was the UK government's flagship programme for the green economy. Investing into longterm low carbon infrastructure projects, it was set out to lead by example and attract private funds to follow suit. But what do we know about its actual impact?
Towards the New Normal | Report Launch, 12 March 2018
Increasing private investment in green infrastructure is a crucial way of meeting the UK’s strategic and environmental policy objectives cost-effectively, whilst securing more jobs, and other economic targets. This report by Aldersgate Group and CUSP provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the UK’s green finance market and suggests key recommendations for government, businesses and investors.
Green infrastructure: the landscape of sustainability | Guest blog by Michael Wilkins
Sustainable infrastructure is key to the low-carbon transition, Michael Wilkins argues in this guest blog — it mitigates the effects of climate change and helps protect communities from its impact. Unlocking private finance for this will be vital.
Green Finance | Alex White giving evidence to EAC, 16 January 2018
On 16 January 2018, CUSP research fellow Alex White gave evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on their green finance inquiry. Based on our research with the Aldersgate Group, Alex White argued for the need to create an attractive low carbon investment environment in the UK if we are to see the real benefits of a growing green finance industry.
Prosperity on a finite planet | #CongresoFuturo2018 with Tim Jackson
CUSP Director Tim Jackson is joining the 7th Congreso Futuro in Chile. Set up by the Senate of Chile, with the aim to decentralize knowledge, the international 7 day event is considered to be the most important scientific dissemination event in Latin America.
Closing the Gaps Between Finance and Sustainability | FINEXUS conference w Sarah Hafner and Roberto Pasqualino
This three-day conference bridges academic research, industry and policy expertise. Practitioner sessions present success stories from leading experts and discuss how the insights from research could help to address the challenges faced by the financial industry and by policy makers.
Finance in the Anthropocene | Blog by Nick Taylor
Risk is our society’s dominant way of governing the future in order to tame uncertainty. This is the case not only for financial crises but also for our responses to global environmental crises. The dominant risk management approach focusses on the prospect of financial devaluation and instability induced by climate change. But the kinds of calculation that are ultimately most pressing relate to how we might consider the financial system as an ecological regime itself.
Could the investment system contribute to sustainable prosperity? | Blog by Charles Seaford
While some investors put pressure on some companies to act in a more sustainable or socially just way, as yet this is at the margin. In this post, Charles Seaford suggests that this pressure could move centre stage, and that changes to, and clarifications of, fiduciary duty could play a part in this.
This new world—Reframing the distribution of rewards | Huffington Post Blog by Tim Jackson
Remember trickle-down theory? It’s the rose-tinted notion that economic growth is the only way to bring poor people out of poverty and reduce the inequality that divides society and undermines political solidarity. It’s not working and our choices are clear: Either we endure the rising instability and fractured politics of a deeply unequal world, or we build a new vision of a shared prosperity.
Money might grow on trees: Investing in natural capital to improve resilience | Blog by Alex White
As the full extent of the damages from recent natural disasters are calculated across the Caribbean and the Southern United States and Lloyds of London begins paying out $4.5bn of claims, there is a stronger argument than ever to invest in natural capital as a way of improving resilience, Alex White finds.
Better disclosure, better returns | Blog by Alex White
The recently published climate risk recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) have been met with high-level and cross-sectoral buy in. The UK government should take note, Alex White argues, and ensure to develop national reporting requirements in line with these best practices. 
Early stage investing into sustainable green SMEs | CUSP session at SME finance conference, 20 June
CUSP is hosting a green finance session with Fergus Lyon, Robyn Owen and Geraldine Brennan at Middlesex University and ISBE conference on SME Finance, 10 years after the crisis. This session will explore the needs of business and also identify different forms of public support for early stage finance found in the UK and around the world.
A competitive economy needs an ambitious low carbon policy | Blog by Nick Molho
The new government will need to have an ambitious and stable low carbon policy at the heart of its project to support the UK’s competitiveness and deliver export opportunities for its businesses, argues Nick Molho, CUSP co-investigator and executive director of the Aldersgate Group.
Seeking a sustainable finance plan for the UK | Blog by Alex White
As part of its involvement in CUSP, the Aldersgate Group is launching a one-year project to understand how to increase private investment in green infrastructure. In her blog, project lead Alex White explains how we will be looking at the most material barriers and considering the solutions to incentivise greater investment in the projects that will underpin the UK’s upcoming policy packages.
Prosperity without Growth – Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow | By Tim Jackson
The publication of Prosperity without Growth was a landmark in the sustainability debate. This substantially revised and re-written edition updates its arguments and considerably expands upon them. Tim Jackson demonstrates that building a ‘post-growth’ economy is not Utopia - it's a precise, definable and meaningful task. It’s about taking simple steps towards an economics fit for purpose.
Investing in the economy of tomorrow | Blog by Tim Jackson
Savings and investment represent a fundamentally prudential aspect of human behaviour. They embody a commitment to a shared future. In this blog, Tim Jackson looks at what tomorrow’s economy will be like and what role investment plays in it.
Understanding investment for sustainable prosperity — breaking down the silos | Blog by Fergus Lyon
At CUSP we're looking at sustainable finance from various angles. By combining transdisciplinary perspectives, we aim to provide a richer understanding of investment and shed light on issues that have hampered the development of a green economy and more sustainable forms of prosperity.
Beyond Consumer Capitalism – Foundations for a Sustainable Prosperity | Working Paper No 2
This paper explores the ramifications of the combined crises now faced by the prevailing growth-based model of economics. In paying a particular attention to the nature of enterprise, the quality of work, the structure of investment and the role of money, the paper develops the conceptual basis for social innovation in each of these areas, and provides empirical examples of such innovations.
Understanding Sustainable Prosperity – Towards a transdisciplinary research agenda | Working Paper No 1
Understanding sustainable prosperity is an essential but complex task. It implies an ongoing multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research agenda. This working paper sets out the dimensions of this task. In doing so it also establishes the foundations for the research of the ESRC-funded Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP).