Institutional investor behaviour and the energy transition: A complexity framework for accelerating sustainable finance from UK investors

Kandace Persad, Bing Xu, Phil Greening

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Abstract

Despite sustainable investment flows having increased significantly over the past decade for transforming the current energy system, a large investment gap remains. This research explores the complex links between institutional investors' expectations on the speed of the energy transition and their sustainability-related investment behaviours. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews with institutional investors, we construct a complex system model using a causal mapping approach, illustrating complex relationships within the sustainable investment system. Our contribution involves the development of multi-layer cognitive maps for different types of institutional investors, followed by a composite causal map that dissects key investment behaviours and investor expectations. Results reveal interlinked concepts influencing investment behaviour and highlight feedback loops with potential amplifying effects on investor expectations and investment behaviour. Two critical feedback loops emerge: 1) the interplay between political and financial support for the energy transition and the associated cost, and 2) the intricate relationship between sustainability factors and asset valuation. Addressing these interconnected issues simultaneously and monitor negative feedback loops that may curtail sustainable finance flows are vital. The results reveal heterogeneities amongst institutional investors such as fiduciary duties, stranded assets, the importance of fossil fuels in the energy system. In sum, our insights provide a foundation for holistic energy policies and a reference system for evaluating policies aimed at accelerating green finance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107444
JournalEnergy Economics
Early online date7 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2024

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