I want you to act as if the house were on fire. Because it is,” a defiant Greta Thunberg said earlier this year. In speaking truth to power, the teenage Swedish activist has captured the world’s imagination as thousands of fires rage through the Amazon, California and Africa. The media follow her closely as students’ voices merge into a single cry: “Do something before it’s too late.”
The world is abruptly coming to understand that many carbon-intensive lifestyle choices are under scrutiny and in some cases must be overhauled. There is cause for optimism, however, in part thanks to greater awareness and behavioural changes, but also because asset owners and managers are actively using stakeholder capital for their benefit; and just as coal powered the Industrial Revolution, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is helping to power this one.
The investment industry is placing the planet and good governance at the centre of its decision-making, approaching the problem both scientifically and holistically. Furthermore, there is an intricate beauty in the details, from storing energy in batteries to power our cars and homes to opportunities for using real estate as a local and micro generator.
Of course, issues such as greenwashing and data challenges persist and investors are at various stages of their journey, but all-encompassing conversations ranging from carbon emissions to plastic pollution, and the constant self-questioning of the impact of every action – and reaction – means that investors are giving people and the planet a fighting chance.
Romil Patel, report editor
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