12 Nov 2019

The Climate Change event, held by AREF FutureGen Network in association with BPF Futures group was held on 7th November, kindly hosted by Gowling WLGs at their beautiful offices, with a view of Tower Bridge, at More London Riverside. This event was very popular with standing room only in the event room.

All delegates had the opportunity to submit questions to the moderator using Slido.com. This summary could not capture all the interesting detail of the event but merely aims to give a brief overview of the key elements discussed.

The event was opened with a brief introduction from Tom Pinnell, Langham Hall and Chair of the AREF FutureGen Committee, letting participants know about upcoming events the committee are running.

Rob Winch, sustainability officer at UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) was the key note speaker and presented on climate resilience and embracing nature. The UKGBC’s vision is to create a built environment that enables people to thrive by, among other things;

  • Mitigating and adapting to climate change
  • Embracing and restoring nature and promoting biodiversity
  • Optimising the health and wellbeing of people
  • Creating long-term value for society and improving quality of life

The UKGBC aims to solve two crises the world is facing; ecological and climate. The ecological crisis in the UK has historically been caused by farming and the increase in urban space as the population and economy expands. With the climate crisis we will see hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters. This will have a big impact on the UK built environment, especially around flooding, overheating and water scarcity. 

The Wildlife Trust envisions combining climate resilience and nature to improve the quality of life in the following ways:

  • Green buffer - Trees and plants act as a buffer and reduce noise pollution, enhance air quality and improve health
  • Urban Cooling – an increase in water and natural infrastructure, such as parks and green spaces can help mitigate the ‘urban heat island’ through providing shade. A 10% increase in green spaces can cool spaces by 2.5 degrees
  • Water responsive – water and natural infrastructure allows greater control over flood flow, it increases soil stability and absorption
  • Living landscape – creating living landscape of course has a benefit to nature, it increases ecological resilience through better connecting populations and increasing habitat. This allows an uplift in biodiversity through increased genetic exchange within species populations

The Government have taken an interest in the Wildlife Trust’s vision to combine resilience and nature to improve the quality of life through green spaces.  They have set a 25 year plan, with the aim of creating the first generation to leave the environment in better shape than when they inherited it. Please see Rob's slides for projects that address these issues.

The panel featured, Katie Mitzschke, Fund Manager at LaSalle Investment Management and moderator of todays panel; Anna Tuddenham, Climate Change Consultant at Arup; Julie Townsend, Senior Director, and Environmental Consultancy at CBRE; Dan Grandage, Head of Sustainability at Aberdeen Standard Investment; and Rob Winch, Sustainability Officer, UKGBC.

They began by taking a poll of the audience through Slido, they asked ‘What do you think is the biggest climate related risk for your portfolio?’ out of 56 responses

  • 41% felt extreme temperature and weather conditions were the biggest risk
  • 27% felt resource shortage and supply chain disruption
  • 18% the impact on asset value
  • 11% Future Compliance and associated financial liabilities
  • 4% to rising sea levels.

The panel discussed the climate crisis from three point’s of view, focusing on physical, transitional risk and the investors perspective. They started by discussing the risks with the increased severity of natural disasters and the persistent changes, and variations in weather patterns, and the potential adverse effects these can have on buildings.

They considered insurance practices surrounding these issues, which are often backward looking and can have a large effect on pricing of assets.

The panel also discussed the impact of transitional risk, with enhanced emissions-reporting obligations, and whether there is sufficient investment in technology which provides lower-emission options, and how customer behaviour will change markets.

The panel moved on to whether they felt clients factored these risks into their investment decisions, and if investors are willing to pay more to protect their portfolios.

AREF would like to thank all the speakers and panellists for making the Climate Change event so insightful, all the delegates for making it such a success. We would also like to thank Gowling WLG for being such excellent hosts, and BPF Futures for partnering with us for this event.


Eve Holloway

Eve Holloway

Marketing Executive, AREF

Eve helps with the administrative side of AREF, including running events, updating the website and marketing.

Eve previously worked for The Investment Association. She has worked in financial services since 2013.