“I am a corporate lawyer. I don’t care about the environment, I don’t care about the community. I care about the money. And I care about risk. And that’s the lens that I bring when looking at climate change.”

The blunt introduction by Sarah Barker, special counsel climate risk governance at legal firm Minter Ellison, set the scene for her keynote address at the 2019 Crawford Fund Annual Conference. Barker focused on the business response to climate change and the opportunities available.

“At the absolute best case scenario, we can hope to level out around 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial averages,” Barker said. “We’ll know whether or not we [are] keen within those bounds … within the next five years or so.”

The transformation required is huge from where we are to where we need to be to reach the 1.5 degree target, and land use is a big part of the change required, she said.

“I get a little bit frustrated when I hear people talking about ‘we’re not the biggest contributor to this problem,’” Barkers said. “‘We’re not coal’ for example, or ‘we’re not oil.’ In order to keep global warming well below 2 degrees centigrade, we have to get to net zero by the middle of the century. And that is everything that we do. Otherwise we are tipping over the edge.”  […]