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Department of Finance

Rising Scholars Conference on Sustainable Finance 2024

Keynote speaker: Caroline Flammer, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics at Columbia University on 11 July 2024 at University of Zurich (UZH)

The Department of Finance at the at the University of Zurich (UZH) proudly hosted the first Rising Scholars Conference in Sustainable Finance.

At this full-day event on THU, 11 July 2024 at the University of Zurich PhD students and postdoctoral scholars presented their research work and interacted with faculty from UZH and other institutions.

The conference aims to help rising scholars gain research insights, valuable exposure, and potential faculty mentorship that will benefit them for years to come. During eight sessions researchers presented their papers and received feedback from Professor Flammer and other top experts.

Keynote Speech by Caroline Flammer

We were delighted to host Caroline Flammer, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics at Columbia University, as our keynote speaker. Her presentation focused on key considerations in sustainable finance and investing.

Professor Flammer began by presenting substantial evidence that environmentally and socially responsible actions enhance a company's competitiveness across various dimensions. She then proposed a reorganization of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, suggesting that Environmental (E) and Social (S) criteria should be integrated into Governance (G) criteria.

Short-term Thinking and Risk Disclosure

Flammer identified temporal discounting and short-term thinking as major challenges. She recommended integrating environmental, social, and long-term financial performance criteria into management compensation.

She also addressed the issue of non-mandatory disclosure of climate risk exposure. Currently, voluntary disclosure can disadvantage companies by revealing short-term vulnerabilities, despite long-term benefits to shareholders. Flammer suggested mandatory disclosure as a solution.

Effective Strategies vs. Surface-Level Actions

The presentation highlighted that many popular strategies may appear beneficial but have limited real-world impact. For example, focusing solely on scope 1 emissions can lead to outsourcing, shifting emissions to scope 3. Flammer also noted that divestment by public pension and sovereign funds is suboptimal, as these investors are best positioned to drive change while remaining shareholders.

The Role of Public Pension Funds

Finally, Caroline Flammer emphasized the importance of public pension and sovereign funds, noting their long-term horizons and ability to overcome short-term incentives. She explained that their ESG investing strategies often influence other investors, and their status as salient shareholders gives them significant influence over management decisions.

The presentation concluded with an overview of open questions in the field, encouraging our students to pick and work on.

We thank Professor Flammer for her comprehensive and insightful presentation, combining academic rigor with practical applications. We look forward to building on this success at next year's Rising Scholars Conference.




Program Location

09.00 – 10.30

Session 1: Corporate Climate Strategies and Disclosure

Different Shades of Green Promises: Estimating their Real Impact
Authors: Emanuela Benincasa (UZH, SFI), Jonathan Fu (UZH) and Mrinal Mishra (University of Melburn)
Discussant: Aaron Black (HSG, SFI)

The Anatomy of Corporate Climate Exposure
Authors: Weiwei Hu (Peking University), Kai Li (Peking University), and Tingyu Yu (UZH)
Discussant: Kornelia Fabisik (University of Bern)

Rämistrasse 71
8006 Zurich

10.45 – 12.15

Session 2: Regulatory Impact on the Green Transition

Mandatory Sustainability Reporting and Project Selection
Authors: Hui Chen (UZH) and Fulvia Oldrini (UZH)
Discussant: Konrad Adler (HSG, SFI)

Consumer Preferences and Green Transition
Author: Florian Perusset (EPFL, SFI)
Discussant: Igli Bajo (UZH, SFI)


12.15 – 13.45

Lunch Break with Sandwiches


13.45 – 15.15

Session 3: Climate Risks in Supply Chains and Asset Pricing

Rewiring Supply Chains Through Climate Policy
Authors: Emanuela Benincasa (UZH, SFI), Olimpia Carradori (UZH, SFI), Miguel Ferreira (Nova, CEPR, ECGI), and Emilia Garcia-Appendini (UZH, Norges Bank)
Discussant: Annette Krauss (UZH)

Does Nature Matter for Stock Returns?
Authors: Glen Gostlow (UZH) and Markus Leippold (UZH, SFI)
Discussant: Zacharias Sautner (UZH, SFI)


15.30 – 16.45

Keynote Presentation by Caroline Flammer



Apéro to mingle and connect


More Information


Thea Katharina Kolasa

See also:

Prof. Flammer at last year’s “Talk on Women in Academia” at University of Zurich in collaboration with the Office for Gender Equality and Diversity of UZH