Finance, a key player in the transition

Grégory Sanson, President of Lille Place Financière, received Cécile Cabanis and Ludovic Subran at a conference on the role of each party in financing the transition.

211201 subranThree tables are facing each other: each participant will talk for about 20 minutes before discussing with the audience in hybrid mode (face-to-face but also remote!). Cécile Cabanis is the former number two at Danone, the first CAC40 mission company. She is the current Deputy Managing Director of the investment company Tikehau Capital. She was named "Woman of Sustainable Development" in 2020 at the Trophées des Femmes de l'Industrie organized by Usine Nouvelle. Ludovic Subran, chief economist of the Allianz group and researcher in macroeconomics, is ranked in the top 100 French leaders of tomorrow by the Choiseul Institute and Le Figaro.

A lack of knowledge and information

Ludovic Subran opens the session with "climate illiteracy". According to him, there is still a lack of knowledge among the general public about global warming and the solutions available to us: "One person in three barely understands the issue, and we are a long way from the level of information we need to make these changes." This lack of knowledge is also found in the financial sector. He invites the whole audience to get informed, to be interested and to exchange. He claims the need to remain humble about our knowledge and especially about our lack of knowledge.

Similarly, Cécile Cabanis deplores this lack of knowledge. Her experience at Danone taught her that consumers were disconnected from their food. This lack is felt and grows even more so with social media addressing so many subjects that we know and agree with: "We have an extremely heterogeneous level of information and communication".

The importance of collaboration

One of the first sentences pronounced by Ludovic Subran is: "We are all actors of change". This implies a generational and collective responsibility for global warming. He feels a strong desire for cooperation: "Everyone must move towards a form of greening", the researcher claims. Secondly, he emphasizes the importance of the social in the economic and ecological transition. "Today, we talk about a fair transition to avoid the losers always being the same", explains Ludovic Subran. In other words, we need to manage the heterogeneity of the effects.

According to Cécile Cabanis, the transition is difficult precisely because it is collective. This implies conflicting interests and therefore the need to align interests, which further complicates the issue. Nevertheless, diversity is good because it makes people grow: innovation and society can evolve thanks to the variety of profiles. Cécile Cabanis emphasizes the collective nature of the state of health of the planet. Everyone has a role to play and "finance must provide guidance in order to finance the transformation".  Stakeholders such as consumers, suppliers but also shareholders must become aware of their roles. For this, Cécile Cabanis points out the need for tools, and in particular measurements: "What we don't measure, we don't manage, so we don't feel guilty.”

But with what tools?

According to Cécile Cabanis, measurement is useful if relevant, comparable and sheds light on investment issues. There is room for improvement, but she says we are on the right track. Good news! After measurement, the expert goes on to explain the need for engagement. Indeed, it is necessary to manage direct impacts, but also indirect ones. The relationship with the supplier is changing, since it is now necessary to share data and be on a long-term relationship. Secondly, interests must be aligned: the collective means that we are faced with a multitude of interests. Nevertheless, when bonuses are given, the collective changes. For Cécile Cabanis, "we will have won when we stop talking about it". Each actor must think in terms of CSR, at all levels of the company and society. In the long term, we need to make progress on measurement and create simpler and more homogeneous mechanisms, within everyone's reach.

Ludovic Subran defends the importance of public policies: they play a major role in the transition in terms of regulation, taxation, the choice of industrial policies, but also the creation of carbon markets, for example. The energy transition must be done between the public and private sectors. Ludovic Subran explains further during one of the questions on the said market. According to him, its certification should be clarified in Europe to make it more profound and so that the price reflects the reality of carbon emissions and the needs of companies that must compensate. His vision? A global carbon market, but since each country has a different vision of decarbonization, it is necessary to reach consensus.

In other words, decarbonizing companies cannot be done overnight, and it requires a collaborative effort from all the players in our society, so that everyone can play their part in building a regulated, measured and greener common market.