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Sustainable Finance: Using the Power of Money to Change the World

Discover the role banks and finance play in the climate crisis and the steps to take to help achieve climate justice.

576 enrolled on this course

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Sustainable Finance: Using the Power of Money to Change the World

576 enrolled on this course

  • 6 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Gain an introduction to sustainable finance

It is now widely agreed by global governments and international organisations that the climate emergency is the most urgent challenge facing humanity. It represents an existential challenge not just for our way of life but to our very survival as a species.

In our global economy, finance is the fuel that drives all activity and banks play a vital role in the climate crisis. On this six-week course, you’ll gain an introduction to financial markets and how finance isn’t sustainable.

You’ll learn how banks work and how we can use the power of money for good to achieve sustainability rather than causing damage.

Unpack sustainable investments and sustainability reporting

You’ll delve into the tools and policies that can shift finances away from destructive activities and towards sustainable investments.

Next, you’ll explore sustainability reporting to understand how to measure the true impacts of investments.

Explore climate finance and greenwashing

You’ll unpack the loss-and-damage agenda and climate finance as you uncover the role accountants play in sustainable finance.

Then, you’ll understand what is meant by greenwashing. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to identify what is sustainable and what is masked by greenwashing.

Understand climate justice with the experts from the University of Roehampton

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by Molly Scott Cato, British Green politician, economist, and activist.

With her expertise, you’ll understand how sustainability has impacted on the key areas of finance, banking, and accounting. You’ll finish the course with the confidence to take your next steps towards climate justice.


  • Week 1

    What we mean by finance and why it isn’t sustainable

    • Money, money, money

      Leaners are asked to engage in a topic they may feel is a long way from their everyday experience. They begin to explore the financial system and challenge their preconceptions

    • Finance: The Basics

      An introduction to the various players operating in financial markets and the financial products they are trading in

    • The Carbon Bubble

      Nothing creates greater risks to our financial system - and indeed to humanity - than the climate crisis. The idea of 'carbon bubble' links climate risks with financial risks.

    • What have we learned, where are we going?

      Reflecting on learning so far and looking ahead to the rest of the course

  • Week 2

    Taming the Beast: How to make money work for good

    • Focus on fossil fuels

      Burning fossil fuels is causing climate breakdown. Why are we still doing it? And why are governments still providing subsidies to fossil fuels?

    • Putting a price on carbon

      Fossil fuel burning is causing damage to our climate. How can we make sure this price is included in the market price? And how can this pricing make sure that fossil fuels are rapidly eliminated global economy?

    • Pricing nature

      Those who proposed market solutions to environmental problems argue that if we valued nature rightly we would find ways to protect it. This debate is introduced, together with discussion about 'natural capital'

    • Pricing the priceless and compromising with the market

      Learners discuss the limits of prices in influencing their behaviour and making change in the world

  • Week 3

    Why accountants are the unlikely heroes of sustainable finance

    • Measuring progress

      What tools do we need to ensure that we have a true sense of whether progress is being made? We start to think about definitions and measurements of sustainable investments and sustainable finance

    • Greenwashing

      With public attention focused on the environmental crisis, everybody wants to burnish their green credentials. How can we tell genuine claims to sustainable activity by financial companies and they invest in from the frauds?

    • Sustainability reporting in the EU

      The EU is developing a framework to first design and then monitor whether investment are actually and verifiably sustainable.

    • Spotting the fraud

      This week we've learned about the importance of honest reporting by the companies that are seeking investment and how this can be ensured in law. For this final step, we'll find out how good you are at spotting fraudulent claims.

  • Week 4

    Banks: Heroes or Villains?

    • What is the role of banks in a climate emergency?

      In a capitalist economy, banks not only create money but also direct it into the economy. So their lending decisions decide which activities are funded and which aren't. The record of banks so far is not good.

    • Can central banks make money for good

      First, we have to answer the question whether central banks can make money. And the answer is broadly yes. If so, why do they not make sure that the money they create achieves social and environmental benefit?

    • Public banking in the public interest

      Private banks lend to businesses and individuals. When the money is repaid it belongs to them. But what about if we owned banks? Then the money created would belong to us and could be invested for the public good.

    • Making Banks Work for Good

      Learners are asked to consider what changes can be made to make banks work for good and how they can use their own money more positively

  • Week 5

    Measuring Success – and Failure

    • Reporting sustainability progress

      Where did the idea of reporting about sustainability come from and how much progress has it made?

    • A Brief History of Reporting

      This week you will have a chance to investigate the development of different reporting standards on climate and environment and their relative merits.

    • The EU Taxonomy

      The EU Taxonomy is a noble ambitious project to define which activities are sustainable and which are not. It was going really well - until politics got in the way.

    • The Limits of Reporting

      In this last activity we are going to reflect on whether reporting is enough. What are its limits and what other powers do politicians have to shift the economy in the direction of sustainability.

  • Week 6

    Climate Finance

    • The UN COP process for negotiating climate agreements

      UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has a series of negotiations including all the countries of the world and attempting to find agreements on CO2 reductions. We will look in detail at the one in Glasgow, in November 2021

    • Addressing climate debts

      The countries that industrialised first have produced the most climate-damaging CO2. How can they repay this debt to the countries that are suffering the worst effects of the climate crisis?

    • Climate Justice

      What can the countries that have been mostly responsible for the climate crisis do to compensate the countries that are suffering most from it

    • Over to You . . .

      Summarising what we have learnt and thinking about how you can contribute to building a global economy and financial system that is on the path to sustainability

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore how financial is fuelling the climate crisis including tracing the flow of finance into fossil fuel expansion, the subsidies given to fossil fuel by our governments, and the power of the fossil fuel lobby
  • Debate the alternative approaches to putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions based on the experiences of different countries including your own country
  • Critique the current operation of banks and investment companies and think about how to challenge them to act responsibly in a climate emergency including prohibiting the issue of bank licences to banks that finance fossil fuels
  • Evaluate means we can use to shift finance towards sustainability including green bonds, banking regulation, the redefinition of banking assets
  • Engage with the urgent issue of climate finance by understanding the claims made by the countries suffering clilmate impacts for climate reparations and the issue of climate finance more widely
  • Report the transformation in the role of accountants as accounting for Environmental, Social and Governance impacts becomes a top political priority across the world

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in climate justice and the role of finance in tackling the climate crisis.

It will be particularly useful for those in finance, accountants, policy-makers, or students of economics or accountancy.

It may also be of interest to environmentalists and activists who are seeking policy proposals to accelerate the sustainability transition.

Who will you learn with?

Professor of Green Economics at Roehampton. I was a member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2020. I worked on financial regulation and was the Parliament's rapporteur on sustainable finance.

Who developed the course?

University of Roehampton

Set on London’s most beautiful campus, the University of Roehampton offers a high-quality student experience with outstanding staff and facilities.

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  • Access to 1,000+ courses
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  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 30 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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