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Introducing our Head of Research: Jan Ahrens

December 9, 2020 in People

Our Head of Research, Jan Ahrens, tells us about some career highlights, what drew him to SparkChange, and the challenges he tackles in his day to day role.

Q1. What are some highlights from your professional career? 
I am an economist by education, and I find great joy in efficient markets delivering the right outcome. I chose to focus on market-based mechanisms to support the transition to a low carbon future, particularly cap and trade markets. After the financial crisis, these mechanisms were heavily criticised as “not working”, since prices to pollute were too low (less a shortfall of the mechanism and more a lack of ambition to deliver what the markets were designed to). Supporting the EU Commission in improving the EU ETS with two major reforms was therefore an absolute highlight for me.

In addition, building a team in China and seeing that thrive was both rewarding and an amazing cultural experience.

Jan Ahrens, Head of Research at SparkChange
Jan Ahrens is Head of Research at SparkChange

Q2. Why was SparkChange a match for you? 
First: I love working with smart, driven teams that align behind a purpose that is relevant. SparkChange consists of incredible bright, capable, humble and funny individuals who make me better every day.

Second, we are on a mission to build a bridge between carbon markets and institutional investors – and I firmly believe that bridge is essential to get enough scale to keep global warming in check. Being part of the solution to the biggest challenge of our generation is a great reason to get out of bed.
Q3. What are the key challenges in your role?
Even though carbon markets have existed for decades, it’s still a niche and inaccessible sector for most institutional investors. I draw on my 15 years of experience following carbon markets to explain the key aspects and characteristics simply enough, so that our partners get a good understanding of how they can leverage the value and impact aspect of emissions allowances as an investment.

I work with research houses and academia to create cutting edge research around carbon allowance investing, and work with data providers to create new signal datasets that our partners can use to create innovative products. I also support product innovation with ideas around both value and impact opportunities in existing and emerging environmental markets. Translating an environmental instrument into a financial asset is not straightforward and needs a great team – and I am very happy to be part of that.