#SustyTalk: JPMorgan Chase’s Rama Variankaval on financing the net-zero transition

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#SustyTalk is all about keeping edie’s loyal readers connected to sustainable business leaders across the world, whilst reminding us all that sustainability and climate action must go on through the current Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. It launched in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 and has continued since then, keeping us connected to the inspirational business leaders who are continuing to drive sustainability and climate action.

This latest #SustyTalk episode sees edie’s senior reporter Sarah George in conversation with JPMorgan’s Managing Director & Global Head of Center for Carbon Transition and Corporate Finance Advisory, Rama Variankaval. 

JPMorgan set up its Center for Carbon Transition in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, tasking the new facility with developing the bank’s own strategy to reduce financed emissions to net-zero by 2050 and its plans for engaging with clients on climate. In May 2021, the business became the first US-based bank to set sector-specific financed emissions targets.

Variankaval is on hand to explain how these targets were developed, weighing in on the debate around whether intensity-based emissions targets are credible. He also looks at how, with changing climate science, legislation and work from sector-specific industry bodies, banks will need to tighten their climate targets going forward.

Also covered in this interview is the debate around engagement, divestment and investing in low-carbon sectors. JPMorgan has pledged to finance and facilitate $1trn of climate action initiatives by the end of 2030, to this latter point. Variankaval explores how the US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could help banks reach targets like this, and what this kind of policy movement means for decarbonising the global economy more widely.

Variankaval says: “If you look at things like carbon capture, green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuel, electric vehicles – there are a lot of technologies where I think the cost equation has materially changed because of the IRA. The likelihood that these are commercially viable sooner has increased a lot. That will absolutely be a catalyst for pulling in capital, so it’s not surprising that other jurisdictions around the world are looking to also do something along the same lines… that, to me, if anything, is a virtuous cycle.”

Click here to see our catalogue of #SustyTalk interviews.

Want to be featured on a future episode of #SustyTalk? Email [email protected]. Please bear in mind that our interview calendar is typically booked several weeks in advance. We are now booked for the remainder of March.

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