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Making money matter

14 July, 2023

A few weeks ago we recommended the Southbank Centre’s ‘Planet Summer’ events and this week we practiced what we preached, attending a hard-hitting sustainability double-bill of impact investor and former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and Richard Curtis, celebrated screenwriter and co-founder of Make Money Matter. 

Carney’s talk leaned heavily on the idea of re-investigating the free-market theories of Adam Smith, who he told the audience has been somewhat misunderstood. Smith believed that moral sentiments and values need to be imposed on markets, as they are not inherent to their operation. Carney applied this thinking to the current need for trillions of pounds of investment to reach net zero. The markets, with their emphasis on innovation, investment and profit, are an integral driver for meeting environmental goals. The key, he argued, is to create a market where operating a low-carbon business is a profitable competitive advantage, and the way to do that is to set a clear societal goal to be sustainable above all else. By setting this goal, the market will adjust itself to achieve it, ensuring that it is profitable to be part of the solution and costly to remain part of the problem. 

Enter Richard Curtis with his NGO hat on, who told the audience how, as individuals, we can help steer society and the market towards setting and meeting that goal of becoming more sustainable. The key is to ask questions: to your pension provider, insurers, and bank. By interrogating the investments they make, we can assess whether our money is working to fund the kind of society we want to create. As more individuals align their finances with their values, the market will follow suit, reflecting a broader societal consensus in a sustainable future. It’s a small ask for a big impact. 

We still recommend taking a look at the upcoming ‘Planet Summer’ talks. Tickets still remain for the likes of Greta Thunberg and Mariana Mazzucato on 30th July – see you there! 

By Marie Guérinet

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