Sustainable Finance and Business
The transition to more sustainable economic activity requires a capital re-allocation of trillions of dollars. To make that happen, businesses and investors must account for climate risk and outcomes in their governance and decision-making. Our work provides decision-relevant insights and informs the development of the legal framework, responsibilities, and contracts that help the financial system leverage its outsized influence on sustainability across our economies and societies.
Financial institutions and the broader financial system must manage the risks and capture the opportunities of the transition towards a more sustainable future. Our work helps them do so.
Our research on climate-related disclosures studies how financial markets can produce and aggregate the information needed to integrate sustainability into decision-makers. We show how novel contracts help ensure that financial firms and businesses seeking to make credible climate commitments can do so, which also helps investors differentiate between issuers. We work on the assessment methodologies around climate risks (e.g. scenario analysis) – physical risks, transition risks, and climate-related legal risks – and their translation into regulatory and governance frameworks. And we study the role of litigation in generating accountability.
We work actively to translate insight into impact, both through our cutting-edge education and through our engagement with a wide range of partners in the public, private, and non-profit sector.
Projects, programmes, and special initiatives
What we've achieved
- We engage with policy makers at the highest levels, including at the IMF, Bank of England, European Central Bank, UNEP FI, and various governments. Thom Wetzer has been appointed to ESMA’s Sustainable Finance Expert Group.
- We are founding partners of the new UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment, working at the intersection of law and finance to green the financial system, where Thom Wetzer will lead the work on climate-related legal risk.
- In September 2022, Thom Wetzer and Rupert Stuart-Smith delivered two seminars on the topic of climate-related legal risk to the UNEP FI’s climate risk programme, which were attended by a global audience of senior actors in the banking sector. They explained the influence of the law on ‘conventional’ understandings of financial risk associated with climate change, showing how legal action interacts with physical and transition risk, how legal action can change which companies / countries are exposed to climate risk, and the magnitude of these exposures; discussed key trends in climate-related legal action that affect the risk to which firms are exposed going forward; and introduced four approaches for assessing the magnitude and distribution of climate-related legal risk.
- Arjuna Dibley and Thom Wetzer were co-lead authors on the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report (2021), where they highlighted the emerging consequences of COVID-19 on climate adaptation planning and finance.
- Our work informed the development of and changes to country-level legislation through the greening of the financial sector and its regulation.
- We have engaged with multiple pension funds, banks, and asset managers to introduce green targets in their investment mandates and to embed climate risk analysis in their investment strategy and governance.
- We helped launch the Oxford Sustainable Finance Student Society which gives students at Oxford a platform to work together on sustainable finance, law, and policy.
Recent research highlights
- John Armour, Luca Enriques, & Thom Wetzer. (2022). Mandatory Corporate Climate Disclosures: Now, But How? . Columbia Business Law Review, 2021(3). https://doi.org/10.52214/cblr.v2021i3.9106
- Arjuna Dibley, Thom Wetzer & Cameron Hepburn (2021). National COVID debts: climate change imperils countries’ ability to repay. Nature 592, 184-187. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-00871-w
- J. Doyne Farmer, Cameron Hepburn, Matthew C. Ives and T Wetzer and others (2019). Sensitive Intervention Points in the Post-Carbon Transition. Science 364. https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.aaw7287
- ‘Stress Testing the Financial Macrocosm’ in Farmer, J. Doyne, Alissa M. Kleinnijenhuis, Til Schuermann, and Thom Wetzer, eds. (2022). Handbook of Financial Stress Testing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108903011.
- Fredi Otto | Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, Faculty of Natural Sciences, The Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London
- John Armour, Professor of Law and Finance at Oxford University
- Luca Enriques, Professor of Corporate Law at Oxford University
- Ellie Mulholland | Director, Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative
- J. Doyne Farmer, Director of the Complexity Economics programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, Baillie Gifford Professor in the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute
- Elisabeth Schemmer | visiting student
For general questions about the programme please email Oxford Sustainable Law Programme information.