Profile: Jennifer Lauber Patterson
While the Copenhagen process proved it is difficult for governments to agree on global targets, the desire to prevent climate change was shared by the majority of representatives from across both private and public sectors, says Jennifer Lauber Patterson. She also urges finance professionals interested in sustainability issues to make a contribution. “This is the right time to transition as opportunities in carbon accounting are growing as the number of specialists will need to expand.”
Jennifer Lauber Patterson has a track record of 20 years experience in the energy, renewable and carbon markets. Jennifer is a highly respected specialist in environmental markets and is a thought leader in sustainability strategy and low carbon product solutions.
From CPA’s In the Black Magazine (February 2010):
While the United Nations Climate Change Conference may not have come up with the binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions that many had hoped for, Jennifer Lauber Patterson CPA says that the global gathering nevertheless produced some positive outcomes that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Lauber Patterson, the director of Australian-based consulting firm Innovative Carbon, was nominated by the International Emissions Trading Association to attend the conference as a non-government organisation observer.
Lauber Patterson is a consultant specialising in advising industry on sustainability, carbon, and renewable and energy efficiency markets, and is a non-executive director of the London-based company Frontier Advisory that develops clean energy and carbon projects in developing and developed countries.
“It’s true that Copenhagen didn’t achieve initial expectations, which is disappointing,” she notes.
“Those objectives were difficult as a few countries made negotiations challenging. However, other than a few countries, there was a lot of synergy in the way that the issues were discussed and the majority of the countries shared a common vision in combating climate change.”
The involvement of American and Chinese leaders is an impressive accomplishment alone, she notes, in addition to estimated 117 other heads of states who attended, making it the largest gathering of heads of states and governments in the history of the UN. While the Kyoto Protocol had established some measures to bind countries to reducing their own carbon emissions, this is the first time developing countries have been involved in making reduction commitments.
“A significant proportion of the increases in carbon emissions are going to come from developing countries in the future,” Lauber Patterson says. “We are not going to achieve our global targets with the involvement of developed countries alone. We need to have international mitigation targets.”
Going into the conference, many developing countries described how they were more than ready to go low-carbon, but were limited by their access to funding and technology. In this respect, Lauber Patterson says the conference made some major advancements, pledging US$30 billion a year for poor countries to 2012, rising to US$100 billion a year by 2020.
Lauber Patterson was most impressed with the general global momentum towards preventing climate change, saying that it was far stronger than she had initially expected. While it proved difficult for governments to agree on global targets, the desire to prevent climate change was shared by the majority of representatives from across both private and public sectors.
“While different policies exist in different countries, I was actually quite excited by the fact that countries are moving forward towards lower carbon economies,” says Lauber Patterson. “From an economic perspective, the majority recognise that the longer you wait to implement carbon reduction schemes, the more it will cost your economy in the long run.”
Lauber Patterson notes that a number of heads of state outlined steps that they are already taking to reduce emissions, even without a legally binding, global agreement.
China pledged to reduce its carbon intensity (being the level of greenhouse gases it emits per unit of economic activity) by 40–45 per cent by 2020 relative to its 2005 carbon intensity, while Japan said it would reduce its emissions by 25 per cent of 1990 levels.
South Korea recently announced it would reduce emissions by 30 per cent of business as usual levels. The US pledged a 17 per cent reduction of 2005 levels by 2020, and by more than 80 per cent by 2050. The EU had already committed to a target of 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 with the potential to increase this target to 30 per cent within the framework of an international agreement.
While Lauber Patterson has traditionally considered economic growth an important reason to support climate change, in addition to saving the planet, meeting delegates from all over the world gave her a fresh perspective on other potential positive outcomes.
“What was most outstanding for me was understanding the issues of developing countries, and understanding the opportunities that climate change can present to alleviate poverty,” she says. On the flight from London to Copenhagen, she sat next to a delegate from Kenya, who told her about his vision to use the initiative as a way to empower women.
“He explained to me that women who lose their partners and are not educated do not have the capability to support their families. Jobs created through climate change mitigation provides these women with the opportunity to learn new skills and obtain employment, which can save precious children’s lives,” says Lauber Patterson.
As for the role of finance professionals in all of this, Lauber Patterson embodies the leading role they can play. She started off her own career preparing financial reports and business plans, and later moved into energy trading, where she started to focus on green energy. Prior to her current role as a consultant, she worked for the ANZ Banking Group as the director of electricity, renewables and emissions.
She credits much of her current success to her background as a finance professional and her CPA Australia training.
“A CPA Australia background has been so valuable in providing me with the analytical and numerical skills that are important to apply in energy and carbon trading,” she notes. “I can understand the implications of carbon to a business and these are all factors to consider when establishing strategies on how to create a competitive advantage and manage risks effectively.”
When emissions reporting requirements were first established, Lauber Patterson says that they traditionally fell under the responsibility of the head of sustainability. However, the complexity of emissions reporting and its implications to annual reporting naturally lends itself better to someone in a financial position, and in an increasing number of companies the responsibility is falling to the CFO.
“The CFO is best placed to ensure that the systems and processes are in place to ensure that the information is accurate,” says Lauber Patterson.
With few specialists in the field, she notes that now is a key time for finance professionals interested in sustainability issues to make a contribution. “If you are a CPA and passionate about the environment, this is the right time to transition as opportunities in carbon accounting are growing as the number of specialists will need to expand.”
This appeared in the February issue of CPA’s In The Black magazine. Read other articles:
The Green Space Race; Green Profits; Natural Resources; What’s in a Word – Sustainability; Emissions trading
Jennifer Lauber Patterson commenced her career in the Utilities Sector. During this time Jennifer developed and managed derivative operations for Southern Hydro Partnership (A hydro generator) and Edison Mission Energy (Coal/gas generation company) It was 13 years ago at Southern Hydro that Jennifer executed her first green energy transaction.
In 2001 Jennifer moved to the Banking Industry as the Director, Electricity, Renewable and Emissions at ANZ Bank, one of Australia’s largest banks. At ANZ she established the electricity, renewable and carbon sales business. ANZ had a strong focus on Corporate Social Responsibility and was awarded as the Most Sustainable Bank in the World as rated by the Sustainability Dow Jones Index during 2007 and 2008. Jennifer assisted customers in Australia and abroad in managing their carbon and renewable risks and identifying opportunities that existed with a global move towards a lower carbon economy.
Jennifer left ANZ this year and is consulting to a number of large corporations, government departments and green companies in the fields of the Australian Renewable Energy Target and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
Jennifer is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, CPA, Bachelor of Business & Diploma in Financial Services.