Sarah Breeden: Climate change – plotting our course to net zero

Speech by Ms Sarah Breeden, Executive Sponsor Climate Change and Executive Director, UK Deposit Takers Supervision of the Bank of England, at the University of Edinburgh and Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, webinar, 18 May 2021.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
19 May 2021


Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for the kind introduction Peter and to the University of Edinburgh and the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges for hosting this event. Making sustainability a core part of education is essential for inspiring the leaders of tomorrow and initiating the research and innovation that is needed for the momentous task ahead of us. I am honoured to be here today.

Over the past year, we have seen scientists and academics, universities, pharmaceutical companies and governments work together at unprecedented speed in a race to develop Covid-19 vaccines. A task that was seen as nigh on impossible back in March 2020 has been achieved through urgency, innovation, and collective action.

We must bring that same urgency to tackling climate change. Yet the race to achieve net-zero emissions ('net zero') by 2050 is a multi-decade marathon, where the starting gun has already fired, and getting to the finish line will require a sprint start, with a reduction in global emissions of a half by 2030 [figure 1 in the Appendix].

What I would like to talk about today is how we get there – both what we know and what we don't know – and the important role of climate scenario analysis in helping us plot the best course.