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Archbishop Welby urges business to back green agenda

29 October 2021

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“IF WE are going to turn the climate crisis around, we will have to work with people with whom we disagree, sometimes profoundly,” the Archbishop of Canterbury told City leaders last week.

“The problem is too big to be the job of just the Government, just business, just charities or individuals,” he said. “We will all need to work together, to be audacious, courageous, to support others in their — and our — journey to be better. Those of us with the power and resources should be doing the tricky stuff in the hard places.”

Speaking at a dinner at Lambeth Palace for City leaders, including the Lord Mayor of London, on Wednesday of last week, Archbishop Welby said: “We need to incentivise ‘doing good’ for when boring things like ‘moral obligation’ or ‘the end of the world as we know it’ aren’t enough of a carrot.

“Financial markets are wonderful forces of discovery — chaotic processes of trial and error that incentivise value-creating businesses — but what we value is not just economic, but social.” He asked: “How do we get people to make harder choices that focus not just on financial return, but build relationships, build good will, and generate mutually beneficial results for people and the planet? How can the majority world access global capital? How do we align morality and expediency?”

The answer, he suggested, was the support of regulation and public policy, as well as innovation and technology. “Finance has a massive role to play, but it cannot work in a vacuum of public policy; we need an enabling regulatory environment.”

Technological innovation would be vital for heavy polluting industries to achieve zero-carbon goals, and increased learning and more advanced technology would speed that process of innovation exponentially. “We need the right fiscal and regulatory environment for investment to flourish.”

As the host nation of COP26, the UK had the opportunity to lead. “All of us, together; everyone in this room, plays a part,” he said. “We are starting a long journey into an unknown future, but one which we have immense power to shape if we join together and act now.”

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