Slide 1

Peak Everything: Enough To Go Around?

Grant Murgatroyd has worked as a financial journalist and editor for 20 years, and has written extensively on emerging markets, private equity, corporate finance and M&A. More recently he has written about the relationship between finance, society and the environment. He attended the Long Finance-London Accord 2011 Spring Conference in March and found it more than just another talking shop.

There are few better places to discuss the future of finance than King Edward Hall in the City of London, where over 150 investors, environmentalists, regulators, academics and journalists gathered for the Long Finance-London Accord Spring Conference: “Peak Everything – Enough to Go Around?” The grandiose setting of the Hall reminds us of the history of finance but is part of the award-winning Bank of America Merrill Lynch Financial Centre, a building that speaks - at least in architectural terms – of its future.

"Peak", says Michael Mainelli, "is a word of the zeitgeist". We’ve all heard of peak oil, but peak metal or peak grain? You could call it “peak planet”. Mainelli, Founder of Long Finance and Director of the London Accord, said that peaks coincide with asset bubbles and – even in a post-scrunch world – we still have plenty of them. Have we run of out time? When are we going to start doing something?

The presentations and debates were thought provoking, lively and driven by questions from an audience as well versed in the topics as the speakers. So what did we find out?

Keynote: Resource Scarcity, Production & Innovation

Professor Paul Ekins, UCL Energy Institute

  • Is there a lack of resources?
  • Can economic growth and resource consumption be decoupled?
  • What is it going to cost?

Click here for the answers.

Panel: Prosperity and Resource Scarcity – What Role Should Finance Play?

  • Can markets drive sustainability?
  • Do governments have the will?
  • Should we give up hope?

Click here for the answers.

Presentation: Finance, Biodiversity and Managed Ecosystems

Dr Genevieve Patenaude, University of Edinburgh

  • Are we any good at producing food?
  • Where have the fish gone?
  • Can human development and environmental impact be balanced?

Click here for the answers.

Panel: Finance, Biodiversity and Managed Ecosystems: Where’s the data?

  • Can nature be measured financially?
  • Are market frameworks possible or desirable?
  • Can we make people see regulation as positive?

Click here for the answers.

It was an interesting, informative and entertaining day. And for probably only the third time at a conference in 20 years as a journalist, there were as many people there for the drinks at the end as there had been at the beginning. I may have left with more questions than I’d arrived with, but they were much better ones.