An MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance: An ethical framework for finance

With such widespread awareness of existential threats to humanity, students are increasingly choosing to pursue education and careers that will make a positive impact on the world. However, until quite recently, business schools have been reluctant to embrace the change in attitude. Now, as the tides are changing, EDHEC Business School’s MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance has shown that the two can – and should – work symbiotically. We heard from Jan Hendrik, one of the first students to explore this innovative new master’s program, who told us why he feels sustainable finance is so important to him and to the world as a whole.

In short

Deciding to follow the path of sustainability

EDHEC Business School’s MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance shows that postgraduate education doesn’t need to follow traditional business. More and more fast-moving institutions are setting curriculums that tackle global issues as they become more pressing. 

Rather than rushing the decision for the next step in his education, Jan reflected deeply before making a decision. Of his choice, he tells us, “I did a gap year and thought about what I want to do in my master’s, and most importantly, asked myself the question, ‘What do I want to spend my time on in the long term?’” (00:43)

Younger generations have shifted the paradigm in which brands, investments, and education operate. According to a 2021 Pew Research Report, 76% of Gen Z describe climate change as one of their biggest concerns. Thirty-seven percent single it out as their number one concern.

Therefore, there is a high demand among young people to dedicate themselves to reducing harm to our planet. As Jan says, “I thought, ‘What is the world going to look like in ten years from now? What are the important questions we’re facing?’” (00:53)

Where can you study an MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable FInance?

Deciding exactly which program to study isn’t as hard as you might think in this field – but not for the right reasons. Despite the urgency of the issue, there are still very few courses in Europe that combine sustainability and finance. This narrows down your options.

However, those that do exist are attractive. What Jan especially appreciated about his MSc was that it opened up two sets of opportunities. “What I really liked about EDHEC’s program is being a double degree with MINES ParisTech, which is an engineering school from Paris,” he explains. (01:30)

More and more postgraduate degrees offer the double qualification format which prepares students for an interconnected world. Challenges such as climate change won’t be fixed by one person, nor will one industry solve it. Therefore, gaining an understanding of subjects like finance and engineering in the context of sustainability allows you to take a holistic view of global issues.

Getting into the details: What does EDHEC's MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance teach you?

Jan gives an overall summary of the course content: “On the one hand, we learned about engineering challenges and the energy transition, and on the other hand, we learned about how climate change is being integrated in capital markets.” (03:12)

The finer details of the course go into subjects like EU taxonomy. The system establishes exactly what environmentally sustainable economic activities include. This landmark framework guides EU nations in investing more heavily in sustainable projects. Those with knowledge of the taxonomy and regulations can thus move into consultancy roles for companies. 

However, EDHEC’s aim is to treat the climate issue as a whole, not just on an organizational level. This means advising private investors, too. As Jan says, “We covered climate-aware investing, in which you look at how you can transform equity portfolios to be less carbon-intensive.” (03:31)

Taking inspiration from guest lecturers

As with so many postgraduate degrees, the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance at EDHEC doesn’t just focus on classroom content. The school brings in excellent speakers from around the world to lead sessions in their specialist areas. Because of the double degree’s nature, some come from a climate science background, and others from finance or engineering.

For example, glaciologist Jean-Robert Petit shared insights from his groundbreaking work extracting climate and atmospheric data from Antarctic ice cores. The content of the talk and the fact it came from Petit himself had a profound impact on Jan. He recalls, “It was very interesting to see the variations in temperature, but most importantly it gave perspective and showed just how incredibly quickly we increased CO2 concentration in the past 70 years.” (02:16)

Life after your master’s: Getting a job in climate change and sustainable finance

Unlike traditional business pathways, careers in finance and sustainability are not as well-defined, which could seem daunting when setting out on the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance. However, according to the US Bureau of National Statistics, jobs for environmental scientists and specialists are projected to grow at a rapid 8% up to 2030.

For his part, Jan Hendrik secured a job as part of the venture team within a sustainability-focused investor firm. Their mission is to rapidly scale up projects to deal with the imminent crisis, steering capital away from more destructive alternatives. Finance is one of the world’s most influential sectors, so by combining climate change and sustainable finance in his studies, Jan is able to make a positive impact on a large scale.

Being part of the solution, rather than the problem, is a recipe for a rewarding career. According to Jan, “It feels like a very meaningful contribution to be able to work on that and I’m looking forward to the next years to come.” (03:56)

Summarizing the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance

In education, social impact focuses such as sustainability are still in their infancy. That said, EDHEC Business School is doing well in leading the way. To sum up the course, Jan says, “Overall, the Master in Climate Change and Sustainable Finance covered just what I wanted to learn in the program and completely met my expectations.” (03:03)

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