Simon Wild has stepped out of Lendlease after more than seven years – along with a slew of other senior leaders – and kick started his new business which will focus on a consulting model for business and government around scenario planning for climate change and the role Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) can play in this.
His former employer, one of the world’s biggest developers with a massive urban regeneration pipeline of around $100 million development, shed 400 or so staff late last year as part of a restructuring implemented by new boss Tony Lombardo.
Wild says he’s “taking that next step into working with more clients and more businesses across sectors”.
The great thing about TCFD and scenario planning model, he says, is that it can incorporate impacts of climate change across multiple sectors.
Wild, who provided insights into this work at our Building Circularity event in 2020 says it’s the topic he’s been working on for much of the past three years.
“One of the key things about scenario planning is it needs to be relevant to your company. What does it mean from a place perspective but also supply chain and value chain and not just in context of carbon emission but in the context of [the possibility that] the world did move into greater than 3 degree of warming.” Which would likely we see more geo- political challenges.
[This, as the world holds its breath waiting to see if Russia will invade the Ukraine, and if China will use that possibility as cover for its own intentions on Taiwan. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to think strong countries might move under this more fragile geo-political scenario to secure increasingly scarce water resources and as countries such as Indonesia respond dramatically to rising sea levels, in this case legislating to relocate its entire capital, Jakarta.]
“From a global supply chain perspective, as we see from Covid, does mean countries become a lot more protective of their natural resources and does that mean they have to localise as well as decarbonise?
“Covid is a little window of how the world might respond to 3 degrees of warming.”
For a start it would mean a lot of impacts that governments would need to respond to, Wild said. Resources and finance would need to deal with climate change risk, which might mean there is not sufficient finance to deal with decarbonisation. And that could lead to a snowball effect.
Can this country deliver local zero carbon products? Would we still be reliant on overseas?
Governments and business would also need to consider the need for policy and societal shifts even with a 1.5 or 2 degree shift.
Wild doesn’t think there are many people working on these scenarios but with TCFD becoming mandatory in places such as New Zealand, Japan and probably soon in the UK, it would be a wise thing to prepare.
Wild says the latest letter to stakeholders from BlackRock boss Larry Fink made a good point – that the decarbonising would create the greatest investment opportunity of our lifetime.
Wild says what business wants is certainty and a price on carbon would help unlock those opportunities but even in its absence a default price will have an impact, through border taxes or voluntary policies.
“The more net zero commitments there are at a corporate level the more they will drive up prices.
But this won’t be a free ride. He says “scrutiny over the quality of the offsets will drive demand for sequestration over avoidance so nature based reforestation and nature protection – all the blue ocean stuff coming out.”
On direct air capture, Wild says there’s plenty of work and plenty of promises but not enough solid results yet.
But without a strong price on carbon the technology doesn’t stack up.
Scenario planning, he says, looks at the long term – say 2050 – and then works back to what’s needed in 30, 20 or 10 years’ time and so on. “The important thing is you look, you create a narrative of what that world will look like in 2050.
“If we hit 3 degrees by the end of the century what would have to happen in 2030 or 2045?”
The Paris stocktake of the world’s preparedness for rising heat will take place in the next two years. It will be a strong truth telling time.
The locked in warming factor will be the hardest part to bear, he says.
“The next 10 years in global warming looks very similar under a 3 degree world and 2 degree world.” In fact, we’re on track to 2.4 degrees under current scenarios.
The planet will continue warming regardless of what climate action is taking place.
There’s talk of geoengineering to take heat out of the atmosphere but this is still in the realms of experimentation, judging from his assessment of it
But Wild is clearly still hopeful. He’s called his company Andefena, an old English word for balance.
“My philosophy about climate change is balance – the need to mitigate and adapt. You need to look at risk and opportunities.”
Primarily the business will focus on real estate “because that’s my heritage, that’s where my experience has been.”