London Climate Action Week: Spotlight on Female Leaders in the City

Q&A with Robin Millington, Executive Director, Planet Tracker.

To celebrate the 1st London Climate Action Week, CDSB is profiling a select number of female leaders in the City who we consider to be at the forefront of taking action on climate change and related issues. In this Q&A we sit down with Robin Millington, Executive Director, Planet Tracker.

1. What inspired you to embrace climate change in your current role? 

I have been embracing climate change for many years – long before my current role as Executive Director of Planet Tracker. I was Founding International Director of Wetlands International in the late 90’s and was many years with the European Climate Foundation from before Copenhagen to after Paris. 

My family has a cabin in a wilderness area in California. Being immersed in nature there I have watched over the decades as it is all changing – ice packs that were centuries old disappeared in the 90s; with the changing climate, bark beetles moved into the forests and began devastating the pine trees in the 00s; devastating years long drought left us without a running stream – and therefore drinking water in the 10s; and in the last year massive fires have run out of control. And that is just in a small area in Northern California. Multiply that by the whole of the changes going on globally. What has inspired me? The need to understand who is caring for the planet, and how. I saw no choice for myself but to step into this need for active stewardship. 

2. What advice would you give to those looking to pursue a similar path in their organisation?

Go out and get private sector experience – understand how mainstream business, finance and the working world thinks about (or doesn’t) the issues of climate and more broadly planetary boundaries and social issues. Don’t create an us & them dynamic – we are all global citizens whose lives are, and will be, impacted. Most people are not intentionally hurting the planet they so depend upon – they just lack information and awareness. Help to create that awareness through dialogue and education; and seek change from within – even if ultimately that change must be fundamental and systemic. I personally believe that we desperately need a new economics framework – endless growth and the assumption of endless availability of raw materials cannot be the measure against which we decide if our economies are healthy.

3. Why are climate and ESG factors so important for those working in your sector today?

Planet Tracker focuses on the finance world – asset managers, asset owners, analysts, corporates. Trillions of investment dollars circulate and are employed either wisely – or, too often, not. We no longer can just assume that what is good for profitability of our funds or companies is sustainable. At this stage stewardship of the resources upon which today’s society depends may not be enough. We may have to restructure the fundamentals – but again, who is thinking about this? Which institutions who oversee the trillions in the system are re-directing our funds towards new paradigms? How short-term versus long-term is our decision making? 

4. If you were in charge of London for a week, what climate friendly policy would you put in place?

Having a Dutch passport that answer is easy – improve the infrastructure for biking through the city, not just in pockets. Add to the school curriculum for pre-teens a bike exam so that they are educated riders – and when they become drivers they are educated to respect the bikes. Get bike lanes in everywhere possible; enforce rules around bikes both for drivers as well as for bikers. Implement safe lock-ups in key areas and near tubes to prevent theft and encourage commuters to bike.  

5. What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?

I am a builder and I feel privileged to have helped build many organisations and initiatives. There is no one single issue to point to – all have been valuable and I am grateful for having been able to contribute. And I hope to keep contributing for many years ahead.

Read more interviews with Female Leaders in the City here.