Meet the 100: Marisa Buchanan, Managing Director, Global Sustainability, JPMorgan Chase

by | May 20, 2022

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The Environment+Energy Leader 100 is an annual list that recognizes the environment and energy “doers” who break trail in creating new solutions, programs, platforms, best practices and products to help their companies – or other companies – achieve greater success in commercial and industrial environment and energy management. Meet the 100… is an ongoing series that will feature one E+E 100 Honoree from 2022 each week. See the complete list of 2022 Honorees here.

Meet Marisa Buchanan, managing director of global sustainability with JPMorgan Chase. As the head of JPMorgan Chase’s sustainability team, Marisa and her team are responsible for developing the firm’s sustainability strategy across its financing activities and operations. They oversee ESG reporting, stakeholder and policy engagement, and sustainability grant-making. They also support  firm-wide efforts to manage environmental and social risks while taking into account ESG trends and industry best practices. “Much of what we’ve been focusing on recently is helping to build the sustainability expertise and capacity across the organization, especially in our lines of business that serve our clients and customers on a daily basis,” Marisa says.

Tell us about your biggest environmental challenge.

Marisa Buchanan: We recognize that the solution is not as simple as walking away from fossil fuels – the transition will require the scaling of green solutions and cutting emissions from traditional industries. It’s important to remember, though, that there’s no energy source without trade-offs – the challenge is figuring out how to provide affordable energy for people’s needs with a much lower environmental impact while also taking into consideration the needs of individual countries and regions.

The transition will require scaling of green solutions while also cutting emissions from traditional industries. This presents us with an opportunity to develop lower-carbon solutions and technology to meet the world’s goal of net zero emissions. To address the needs for this transition and as part of our target to finance and facilitate $2.5 trillion for sustainable development over the course of ten years, JPMorgan Chase is helping clients raise the capital they need to build sustainable infrastructure, develop and scale new technologies, and implement business transition strategies.

We’re helping carbon-intensive industries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, making our own operations carbon neutral and supporting investors who share in our commitment to advance the transition, and support policy solutions that help address climate change.

What was a successful project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Do you have any tips that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?

MB: The launch of our Carbon Compass Methodology is something I’m particularly proud to have been a part of. It describes how our firm is setting carbon reduction targets for critical sectors like oil and gas, auto manufacturing and electric power, and how it will monitor progress over time. It came after we announced our Paris-aligned financing commitment late in 2020, uses relevant, credible and decision-useful data and metrics, and targets specific sectors which account for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions. The methodology will continue to evolve as better data and analysis becomes available, but is already helping us account for environmental sustainability considerations in our business decisions in a measurable and tangible way.

I’d stress the importance of collaboration in this process – we relied on so many leaders within and outside of our firm. We co-developed the methodology with ERM, and enlisted their expertise to challenge and enhance our efforts. We believe this approach allowed us to develop a methodology which is practical and future ready and reflects leading thinking on the low-carbon transition. We’ve also made the details of our methodology public to help advance efforts across our industry and to bring our clients along on our journey. Most importantly, we are doing this in collaboration with our clients who are navigating the transition to a low-carbon economy and are seeking guidance on how to achieve their own sustainability strategy goals.

What else can you tell us about your company’s specific initiatives? 

MB: As a firm, JPMorgan Chase is already bolstering our capacity to advise and serve clients across our lines of business. For example, we launched our Center for Carbon Transition, led by Rama Variankaval, tasked with providing clients in the Corporate & Investment Bank and Commercial Banking with centralized access to sustainability-focused financing, research and advisory solutions. JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking also launched a new Green Economy team, a specialized industry team which will provide dedicated banking services and expertise to companies that produce environmentally-friendly goods and services or focus on environmental conservation.

Do you have a particular hobby or passion that has had an impact on you and your work?

MB: Especially since the start of the pandemic, I’ve developed a stronger interest in gardening. Tied to that, I’ve become fascinated to learn more about local plants and pollinators. In a simple way, it’s reminded me how our work and broader commitment to climate action connects back to our daily activities. Changing temperatures and climatic shifts will influence the types of plants that are able to survive in our gardens and can affect the behavior of pollinators that are a critical part of this ecosystem. This also demonstrates, on a small scale, how the food and agriculture industry is already being impacted by climate change.

Editor’s note: nominations are now open for this year’s E+E 100. Nominate a colleague — or yourself — for the 2022 E+E 100 today.

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