According to the Aggregate Confusion Project, the data produced by environmental, social, and governance—or ESG—ratings are noisy and unreliable, which creates challenges for investors hoping to achieve financial and social returns. This is especially the case for carbon markets: the complex trading systems for buying and selling carbon credits that can be quite mystifying.
The 2023 MIT Sustainability Summit, the annual student-run event that attracts dozens of governmental and corporate agencies and hundreds of professionals, academics, and students, aims to demystify these complexities on Friday, April 28, at the Samberg Conference Center.
“Our goal is for attendees to leave with one action that can further their personal or organizational approach to reaching net zero or carbon neutral,” says Sandhya Mahadevan, MBA candidate and conference co-managing director.
“While we hope our participants will learn more about the structure and goals of carbon markets,” she adds, “we are particularly focused on enabling consumers, governments, and companies alike to implement strategies to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius pathway outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Mahadevan and her fellow organizers hope attendees come ready to engage in discussions with colleagues from their respective professions and areas of expertise, as well as other stakeholders from government, industry, civil society, and the MIT student body.
Like Andrea Quiros-Balma, a designer from the furniture industry turned MIT Integrated Design and Management master’s program candidate who is keen to explore what sustainability and sustainable design can do in the long term—especially for the recycling industry.
“A few years ago, my dream of attending and showcasing my work at the biggest furniture fair in the world came true, and that day, amongst a sea of stuff so big I could barely get through it, I realized how pervasive our sustainability issues are. It took me a while to quit my job and pivot into sustainability, but from that day on, I started thinking of human systems and how to change them,” says Quiros-Balma.
When global temperatures will reach 1.5°C warming limit at present rate
From the MIT Climate Nucleus and the MIT D-Lab to Deloitte and many others, sponsors and their representatives will be on hand to participate. So too will notable speakers like Noah Deich, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Carbon Management in the Department of Energy, who is participating in the Summit’s first session, “The Ambition of Carbon Markets”; and Tracy Cameron, Director of Corporate Climate Engagement at Ceres, who is taking part in the “Advancing Corporate Action” panel.
“I’m particularly interested in Cameron’s unique perspective on the types of actions investors expect to see from responsible corporate actors,” says Saman Baghestani, MBA candidate and director of content for the Summit.
As the organizers note, the Institute is home to an excellent array of faculty, researchers, and centers that are well-equipped to not only address carbon markets but to help explain their complexities to those interested in learning more about them. Chief among these, says Mahadevan, are the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and its affiliates.
“The MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and other faculty at the school do a phenomenal job of connecting the environmental and social aspects of sustainability in a way that is accessible to students and actionable in our careers moving forward,” she says.