BNP Paribas appoints climate chief to assess carbon threat

The fund firm has appointed Mark Lewis amid a growing threat to European businesses by the rising cost of carbon

BNP Paribas Asset Management has again expanded its dedicated sustainable investing workforce, with the appointment of a new executive responsible solely for climate change investment research.

BNP Paribas’ decision to appoint Mark Lewis as head of climate change investment research comes as European companies are repositioning their business models to navigate the rising cost of buying carbon.

Under European rules, companies that emit high levels of CO2 in their business activities must operate within a set allowance. If they exceed this, they must buy more credits on the open market. Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that European CFOs are increasingly assessing the cost of carbon when planning the future corporate strategy of their business.

In a media statement announcing Lewis’s appointment, BNP Paribas said the new climate chief would “provide an authoritative view on developments within climate change and energy transition, and their implications for current and future investment decision making.”

Lewis is to report to Jane Ambachtsheer, the company’s global head of sustainability and will join the business on 7 January 2019.

“Climate change is a defining economic and social issue of our time, presenting investors with both risks and opportunities,” Ambachtsheer said in a statement announcing the appointment.

“Those investors who succeed in understanding how this economic transition will unfold will be better placed to deliver superior outcomes through more informed capital allocation.”

Lewis joins from thinktank Carbon Tracker where he was head of research. Previously, he was a managing director and head of the European utilities research team at Barclays, chief energy economist at Kepler Cheuvreux, and head of carbon research at Deutsche Bank. He was also a member of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures from May 2016 to May 2018.

“Mark Lewis is a globally-renowned expert on the financial impacts of climate change, and his experience and expertise will be invaluable in helping us to do this, as well as contributing to the broader expansion of our sustainable capabilities,” Ambachtsheer added.