S3E6: Crypto and Climate, A Look To The Future with GLT Founder & President, Claudia Segre

S3E6: Crypto and Climate, A Look To The Future with GLT Founder & President, Claudia Segre


In today’s episode, we sit down with the founder and leading lady of Global Thinking Foundation, Claudia Segre. Together with Claudia, we dive further into the discussion on cryptocurrency, what the future looks like, and the environmental impacts of cryptocurrencies that are often overlooked. We have the conversation on climate change, ecosystems, and sustainability in celebration of Global Thinking Foundation’s Annual Event “There Is No Plan[et]B” on Thursday, November 18th, which you can tune in and watch the entire event through any Global Thinking Foundation websites.



CLAUDIA SEGRE is the pesident Global Thinking Foundation.

Graduated from the University of Turin in Bachelor Economics – Major International Economics, she has worked at primary Italian banks for over 30 years and collaborated with various Universities and Foundations to spread the importance of economic and financial culture. She has been involved in Financial Education since 2003, joining the Teaching Team of ASSIOM and the Committee of Writing of the Letter ASSIOM of which he became Managing Director in 2006 and still holds this role for the AssiOM FOREX Letter.


Claudia has dedicated her career as a Trader and Manager to the study of the risks and dynamics of international markets, as well as to deepening the global geopolitical dynamics and related financial-economic correlations, holding roles of Trading and Management Responsibilities in the Group Headquarter of Unicredit Group, Intesa Group and Credito Emiliano Group.


Claudia is a Founding Member of ASSIOM FOREX, formerly Vice President of ASSIOM and active in the Association since 1993. He was AssiOM FOREX Secretary General from 2009 to 2016, and is currently Director of Publications and Member of the Board of Directors. Chairman Board of Education of ACI FX International from 2012 to 2015, is now Honorary Member ACI International. Member of the Expert Consultation of the 6th Finance Committee Chamber of Deputies from 2016 to 2018.Since 2016 she is President of the Global Thinking Foundation organizes and sponsors financial education projects aimed at improving social and economic inclusion in Italy, Europe and the USA, through various collaborations with public institutions and private entities.

Download the episode's key takeaways here.

This episode was produced by Global Thinking Foundation USA and Hangar Studios.

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Tune in and watch Global Thinking Foundation's 6th Annual Event "There Is No Plan[et] B" here.

View Transcript

[00:00:00] Mary: Hi, there money people. It's your host, Mary. And this week you're stuck with me. Nolan was going to join us. But he's busy off climbing some mountains in Switzerland, which is pretty cool. So, you just got me today. Don't worry. I'll try and have a great conversation with you. So today I'm coming here to you from Milan, Italy, the headquarters of Global Thinking Foundation.


[00:00:25] Mary: And to help close out our series on cryptocurrency and introduce our next series on climate change, we have a very esteemed guest with us today. We are with a very dear person to me, Claudia Segre, the founder and leader of Global Thinking Foundation. She leads offices in Italy, France, and the United States. Tell me that's not so cool.


[00:00:51] Mary: So, she has been working on worldwide issues of financial empowerment and gender equality for literally decades. Claudia has been a leader in the world of finance for many years. And as this leader, she led emerging markets for 30 years at some of the biggest banks you could imagine. Naturally, she's got a keen eye on how the old institutions are changing.


[00:01:18] Mary: And that's why I was so thrilled to have her here for a quick little chat. We want to close out the discussion on cryptocurrency with a perspective on what the future holds. And we also want to launch into a conversation to introduce our newest series on climate change. Tying these two worlds that you might not put together - together.


[00:01:42] Mary: Claudia has been at the forefront of bridging financial empowerment and issues of the environment and sustainability. Global Thinking Foundation's upcoming annual event - today! For all of our listeners, Thursday, November 18th. So, you can listen in if you want to - is centered on the topic of how the world is changing to rise to the challenge of climate change.


[00:02:05] Mary: It's no exaggeration to call it the single most important issue of our time. And it's important to center climate into every conversation we have. And Claudia Segre understands and lives this truth, every single day.


[00:02:24] Mary, Nolan, Laquita Ann: Hi, I'm Mary. I'm Nolan. I'm Laquita Ann. We are your hosts, and this is 'Your World, Your Money.' We will be talking real money, with real people, in a real way. Because everyone deserves the opportunity and tools for freedom, financial or otherwise. 'Your World, Your Money' is brought to you by Hangar Studios, a New York city based recording studio, and Global Thinking Foundation, a global nonprofit working toward financial freedom and equality for all.


[00:03:09] Mary: We are so excited to have you here with us. Let's get into it.


[00:03:13] Claudia: Hi, Mary.


[00:03:15] Mary: Are you ready to talk to the U.S. Audience? Get to know them a little bit?


[00:03:20] Claudia: Yeah, born ready.


[00:03:22] Claudia & Mary: [Laughter].


[00:03:22] Mary: Of course. So, let's jump into it. Let's talk about cryptocurrency. So, Claudia, in what ways do you think that crypto is changing the world of finance? Or is this technology maybe a little overrated and we're just a little obsessed with it, right?


[00:03:43] Claudia: Yeah, for sure. It changed a lot, the world of finance... and from the technical point of view, as I was a trader into financial markets, investment funds and banking strategies still believe Bitcoin remains a better inflation edge than gold. And, uh, what we are perceiving is that the reemergence of inflation concerns among investors has renewed the interest in using Bitcoin as an inflation edge. So, over the past year, Bitcoin has outperformed gold by enormous value and is truly becoming a sort of digital gold. But even if the price of Bitcoin were to increase also ten times over the next decade, I would not invest in it. I share the view that Bitcoin in its nature remains worthless. And so overrated because it actually doesn't exist. Instead of considering that currently it's used for speculative online investments and to evade government loan. So, it's sort of like the song - it's just an illusion of easy money and is likened to a gamble.


[00:04:52] Mary: Did you all hear that? It's just an illusion. I think we're going to have to put that song in here. I think that was the best. Yeah. Oh, oh yes. I'll sing for everybody. Everybody will go deaf. It will be really healthy. You know, they'll, they'll be really, really grateful that I sang for them. For everyone listening, I'm an atrocious singer. You never want that to happen in your life.


[00:05:14] Claudia: Yeah, me too. [sings] It's just an illusion.


[00:05:18] Mary: More and more of these central banks, you were talking a little bit about institutions, they are creating digital currencies of their own. And just to pick your brain a little bit, do you think that this will be the future? Do you think children and students, should they have some kind of cryptocurrency competency in their education or financial education?


[00:05:42] Mary: Like where do we see this going?


[00:05:46] Claudia: I [do] still believe that young generation needs to have more, excuse them, to be more deep into cryptocurrency matters. And we already added cryptocurrency phenomenon alliances on our courses of financial education, both for students and educators, because it’s very important to take on new technologies that are favored by advances in cryptography, first of all... in these application of methods, they serve to make a message understandable and intelligible for everybody. And not only two people authorized to read it. And by the evolution of the internet that are causing a radical change in the global economy, there's a particular reference to the financial sector in terms of the method of exchange of goods, services, and any financial activity. Among the most significant application of digital technology to the financial sector, obviously at the center there is cryptocurrency. And the emergence and spread of cryptocurrency stands out, but it's more important to look and be focused on blockchain revolution. That is very crucial to take an account for and get a better understanding of these digital evolutions.


[00:06:58] Claudia: So also, because even money can change its skin, and one of the phenomena that could definitely lead to changes is that of the central bank digital currency. So CBDC... there's a new form of money other than digital money. And that is inextricably linked to the bank. So, CBDC are a relatively new concept based about the exploratory and experimental phases by various central banks worldwide. [And] it is already well underway and is interested in understanding [how] our new technologies such as blockchain can support the creation of new form of money that brings to benefit and knowledge application for this new revolution of technology.


[00:07:45] Claudia: It's very different than to adopt the Bitcoin as the new digital currency for everybody.


[00:07:55] Mary: I love that you mentioned some of these incredible innovations and some of these options that we can move

toward. So, the CBDC's option that is a little bit more... well, it seems a little bit better for the economy than some of these other options that we've got.


[00:08:11] Mary: So, looking at the other side of it, what are some of the major downsides of cryptocurrency? Like would you say, for you, from your perspective, are you an optimist or a pessimist at the end of the day? I think we know, but I'm excited to hear you tell me which way you think you want to take it.


[00:08:30] Claudia: But, you know, let me, first of all - a reminder of what happened just at the beginning of this year. So barely nine months ago, not more than a nine months past and Tesla knows that it's [put] 1.5 billion investments in Bitcoin - just was February. And this news immediately increased the value of the digital currency, reaching a record of $63,000 on April 13th. And after a few weeks, a tweet from the founder and the CEO of the company, Elon Musk, was enough - where he knows the stock of Bitcoin is a means of payment for Tesla cars - to predict and generate the opposite effect.


[00:09:09] Claudia: So, there was a collapse of the cryptocurrency of almost more than 10%. And so, the reason is that Bitcoin production is a major source of pollution and people understand that. And that a significant amount of energy is used to produce all digital currency is certainly nothing new, but undoubtedly, the surge of prices leads to an impact on the environment so great that it jeopardizes the global use of cryptocurrency at certain times.


[00:09:42] Claudia: So, it's true that these coins are virtual and therefore there is no use of paper, plastic materials or metal. [But] it's equally true that the mining process in the creation of cryptocurrency takes place thanks to the work of numerous high-powered computers, which therefore they process it at high energy intensity. Often generated by fossil fuels, again, such as coal, one of the most polluting commodities.


[00:10:08] Claudia: So, the so-called miners trying to obtain Bitcoins for complex mathematical calculation, carried out by the graphics card of the machinery and extrapolating the cryptocurrency through calculation system, are linked to an expensive energy consumption. And so, if you think about the latest data on the impact of this system on the environment, [which] comes from the University of Cambridge and also from the International Energy Agency in 2019, they estimated that mining operation around the world grow on energy sources at the rate of 120 terabyte hours per year. Which is about as much as a medium sized nation. But according to a U.S. University, this could then rise to 147.8 terabyte hours per year. So, the carbon dioxide emissions caused by the mining of Bitcoins are between 22 and 22.9 pounds in a year. And this is a level equivalent to those produced by Jordan or Sri Lanka or any other middle nation.


[00:11:14] Claudia: So, numbers that we would ever risk dabbling, if in addition to Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, if more than 360 we're also taking into consideration an area of incredible danger for the climate change, sustainability and [overall] situation that is really tough during this period, as we have seen at the COP26 debate.


[00:11:37] Mary: I'm grateful that you mentioned the environmental impacts here, because this is a really great segue into the next part of the conversation that I'm excited to bring you in on. So, as we mentioned at the beginning, given this existential importance of solving the climate change issue, it's a topic that should ground every conversation in, honestly, every area. So, Claudia, you've been thinking a lot on the importance of rising to the challenge of climate change. In fact, you've organized some of Global Thinking Foundation's programs like Focus Suit and Young 6, 1, 2 Plus, and even our annual event - taking place today. To our listeners, it will be today - to be centered around climate and sustainability.


[00:12:29] Mary: So, please tell us why you've made this incredible choice to ground everything we do in something that is the future. And we've got to think about.


[00:12:41] Claudia: Okay. Yeah, the annual event for us is a very important appointment because it's the way to wrap up what's happened during this year. In particular, 2021 was a very tough year for many reasons, as you know, after the pandemic - or we suppose after the pandemic, because we don't know actually. And it's also a way to explain to our stakeholders our new projects and our vision for the next years to come. And this year, the title is, Sustainability and Technology For the Regeneration of Ecosystems. And the subtitle is, there is no Planet B or Plan B, if you want.


[00:13:22] Claudia: Because last year we analyzed the role of technologies in fostering transformation towards a more inclusive and sustainable society. And now our journey of project, is to just continue to make the system more suited to the needs of the new labor market and to prepare the new generation to embrace the Green New Deal launched by the U.S. Administration, exactly like that in the European Union.


[00:13:48] Claudia: It is a perfect integrity platform in [our] 2030 agenda. And there is the gist. No one can be left behind, as we know perfectly. And if the corporates have understood that reducing inequalities can improve profits, investors [must] respond by working adherence to the ESG Criteria and to choose sustainable investment is a must have. And we are sure that the transition to a low carbon economy will foster justice and equality and will not end up, once again, eating the most vulnerable sections of society.


[00:14:23] Claudia: And we can also argue that the responsible FinTech could help. We have an observatory. The observatory on FinTech for sustainability that is working on new projects. And [at the event] we will try to answer many questions like those ones with our alternative speakers. And in order to face the emergency in preserving ecosystems. [We are going] to find solutions and, first of all, actions.


[00:14:51] Claudia: So, we are really conscious and have a farsighted commitment and altogether we can also follow the results of the social impact, that analysis that we already did, uh, regarding our project. [Which] we will expose during this annual event. And so, you can follow us on our website and I'm really sure it'd be an amazing opportunity to share different views between the U.S. And Europe on such urgent issues, and also looking forward and beyond COP26. Altogether not only in progress, but in action.


[00:15:30] Mary: Thank you for mentioning COP26. You're just making my life so easy. I don't even have to come up with segues. I just get to listen to you and be like, and there's my question. Look at that. So easy. So, I want to talk about COP26 because, at least in the United States - and maybe I'm wrong. But my perception is most Americans didn't know anything about it.


[00:15:53] Mary: And if they did know about it, they only knew about it truly like a week before it happened, which sounds crazy to many people, but really a lot of Americans didn't know about it. So, thinking about that meaningful climate action. We haven't really seen any. And countries are trying to put us on the right course through COP26.


[00:16:16] Mary: So, are you optimistic about other countries being able to rise to this challenge? Do you think we've got a chance? Can we do it? What do you think?


[00:16:27] Claudia: Uh, first of all, I think that we need to build this chance altogether and I'm quite optimistic also with reference to the recent news. We might speak of a new offer that will reach the climate goals in respect of the limit of 1.5 degrees. I think this might be achieved. Economies have cautiously welcomed the U.S. and China declaration that works to boost climate cooperation. We will see next year, there will be a virtual meeting between the two. And analysts describe the move as an encouraging moment and important step. But it's very crucial that both countries show not only strong commitment, but concrete actions in the next nine years to support the promises. And I think that U.S. And China are the world's two biggest CO2 emitters, and scientists say that limiting global temperatures - rising only 1.50 degrees will help humanity avoid the worst climate impacts. And this announcement was made already a few days ago at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.


[00:17:38] Claudia: And there will be a beautiful meeting where these two big, powerful nations can find a possible agreement. I don't know. It's very difficult because we know that there was always the sort of not constructive debate between the two till now, particularly regarding 5g and technologies new power. But I think that, uh, as one mentioned also by many Sherpa between the two countries, uh, after more than 30 meetings in the last 10 months, they finally need to give a message to the rest of the world if they want to remain in power.


[00:18:19] Mary: Absolutely. And as everybody listening knows, you're our president and founder, and I also work for the foundation. If you don't know that yet. Well, that's what this podcast is about. So welcome here. So, one topic within this that we're both very self-invested in and the foundation is invested in is the role of finance in all of this. So, what role does finance play in the green transition? And the question that we fight for every day, what should it play? What role would we love to see it play in this green transition that you're talking about?


[00:18:56] Claudia: [Well] you know, three years ago, our annual event was focused on impact investing, and we asked the, the, the guru of impact investing - our best friend, Robert Rubinstein. And we started from that moment, uh, in new path, on impact investing involvement for the foundation and also my personal involvement into impact investing. But if I have to look to COP26, I see that for the first time, the world of finance banks, investors are finally committed with a written agreement to cap the emissions and do their part in the fight against climate change. And the agreement, whose credit goes mainly to the United Nations special envoy for finance individuals and former governor of the bank of England, was just announced at the COP26. So, the announcement is very important for the commitments and promises from 40% of the world of finance, which has promised to respect the Paris Agreement in terms of emission cuts.


[00:20:05] Claudia: And also, they be committed with more than 133 million assets. So that overall have said yes to this commitment and under this new umbrella of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for net 0 geo-fence uh, which has made up over 450 banks, insurance asset managers representing more than 45 countries. So, this way, we should be able to provide up to 100 trillion in funding to have economies transition to carbon neutrality over the next three decades.


[00:20:40] Claudia: So, in the total effort of the coalition, the managers contribute for about $57 trillion and another $63 million will come from banks and other 10 pension funds and financial groups that are part of this alliance. And also allow me to apply another point that is regarding the climate bond initiative. Another important initiative that is a sort of [inaudible], is [this] international nonprofit organization operating in the bond market with reference to the green bonds. And the CEO... this guy explained why raising the target in order to combat the climate crisis to $1 trillion in annual investment must be reached by 2023.


[00:21:31] Claudia: And subsequently it will aim to achieve 5 trillion dollars annually by 2025. So, he said that the location of capital for sustainable project is expected to reach, [in three years], and rippl[e] in both developed and emerging economies. This is very important. So, it's a global initiative containing all the issues coming, both, and the requests coming both from the developed and emerging economies.


[00:21:59] Claudia: And if you take into account that the 2020 annual green investment amounted to 297 billion of dollars, around the end - or at the beginning of the 2021, they exceeded $354 billion. So, it's an important issue. It is a growing issue. And we need to finance the green economy if you want to achieve the goals of the green transition. These trends give out to reach after three and quarter by the end of 2021 this year. And if the fight against climate change will require a commitment for a long time. For sure, it's a great opportunity, obviously, for the investors to be into the green economy and to make the right choice.


[00:22:45] Mary: There's a lot of zeros in all of those numbers. I heard a lot of billions and trillions and that's a lot of zeroes. So, all of these zeros. We're talking about banks, institutions, organizations. I want to think a little bit about people like us that work in the nonprofit world. So, what are some important steps for nonprofits like Global Thinking Foundation, obviously - again, selfish, vested interest. Hi, everyone. We're here. - But what are some of these steps that nonprofits can take to help push the world towards the meaningful climate action that we need? And we might not have quite so many zeros at the ready.


[00:23:27] Claudia: Uh, let me point out that, first of all, Global Thinking Foundation is participating [in] the International [inaudible] For Financial Education... to the Civil Society Organization, meeting at the International Monetary Fund. And at the same time, we are really cautious about our common responsibility towards climate change. And our project, that in [being a] nonprofit organization and leading these changes in a foundation, like Global Thinking Foundation, with [our] project is a network to learn, to educate, to track social impact and connect with other people.


[00:24:09] Claudia: We also want to add change and to have a better world. So, addressing climate change can be super hard and Global Thinking Foundation offered the opportunity for everyone to contribute with something that is simple. And this year, the starting point, they by day individual actions with students, we share the way to change and to move for climate change. And that's including some personal choices in many areas, such as a diet, a long and short distance travel. Everyday household energy use, conception of goods and services - feminine side. So, individual can also engage in local and political advocacy around issues on climate change.


[00:24:52] Claudia: And that's the reason why we improve environmental education with financial education for students and families that aims to educate human beings, to manage their behavior in relation to the ecosystem without altering the balance of nature. But at the same time, managing to meet the needs of the community present at the given historical moment, because these are historical moment and we have not another time to change, and then there's not supplementary time for a change. So, this presupposes a greater attention to all the interconnections between environmental, social, and economic dynamics to adhere to the ESG, environmental, social, and governance criteria. Both companies and the individual people in their usual and daily choices in investment.


[00:25:45] Claudia: And it's a question of rising awareness among the community on a particular important issue in today's world. So that of the climate crisis, which has made training information interventions for new generation, very essential and urgent. So, what we develop is a new way of thinking about the concept of the environment and of relating now with people and our stakeholders.

[00:26:10] Claudia: So, this also adds to the construction of a sense of legality, first of all, development of a network of responsibility. Uh, which is realizing the duty to choose and act in an informed way. And which implies the commitment to develop projects to promote actions, aiming for continuous improvement of one life context. And starting from daily life at school, personal involvement in customer routine, they may relate to the clean list, regeneration of places and regeneration of cities.

[00:26:45] Mary: I like that. I like that we can start with our daily lives. We can start there. So, whether you work for a non-profit or you work for one of those big old banks, you can just start with your daily life. I like that. I think that that feels very, that feels very tangible and an easy way for people to get to.

[00:27:02] Mary: So, for our listeners, Claudia, Is this incredibly busy lady. So, we're very, very grateful that you came on to chat with us. And I have one last fun question just because I want to gas you up and I want the world to know how awesome you are. So, we just heard Claudia talking about all of these incredible things from institutions in the galaxy and environmental change.

[00:27:25] Mary: Claudia, how many languages do you speak? Because I don't think I have the command like that of even English.

[00:27:32] Claudia: I speak the languages of the heart. So Italian, French, English, and a little Hebrew because, you know, the adherence of Bible is always important for each religion who are coming out. So [I] just to study every day and to study a lot, because our language is our freedom to talk with people. It's to exchange, uh, our commitment to these words and for a very sustainable environment.

[00:28:01] Mary: Uh, did you hear that she has the languages of the heart? Those are the ones that she knows, and that is perfect. That is, you Claudia. Right there you speak the languages of the heart. Thank you so much for coming on and chatting with us. I appreciate it. Thank you.

[00:28:16] Claudia: Thank you, too. Bye. See you very soon! Ciao. Ciao.

[00:28:21] Mary: So that's our conversation today with our incredible leading lady, Claudia Segre. And we are so happy you could all listen in with us and listen to our chats with Claudia in the midst of all of the busy, busy things she's got to do. This wraps up our series on cryptocurrency and sets us up for our next mini-series on climate change and how we can think through the i impacts and implications of our individual carbon footprint and how we can sort through some of the quote unquote green policies taken by corporations. And even what that can mean for us as consumers. As we mentioned, Global Thinking Foundation's annual event is taking place today, November 18th. Titled, There Is No Planet B.

[00:29:09] Mary: Incredibly relevant to these conversations we're having. You can learn more and watch the full event recording via the Global Thinking Foundation website at www.Gltfoundation.com. Or also on our website in the USA, www.globalthinkingfoundationusa.com. Pretty much if you type in Global Thinking into Google and you click on the Italian site, the French site, the United Kingdom site, the USA site, you can pick one. If you can read Italian and French and you can watch the annual event with us. We hope you can join us, and we'll chat soon. Until then everybody stay safe and happy money making

[00:29:52] Mary, Nolan, Laquita Ann: You've been listening in with 'Your world, Your Money.' You can find us at ywympodcast.com and stay updated on Instagram at Global Thinking Foundation USA. Be sure to rate and review us and you can reach us with questions or thoughts at hi@ywympodcast.com. Our thanks again to Hangar Studios and Global Thinking Foundation. Thanks friends. Happy moneymaking. We'll see you next time.