Balancing Climate, Energy, and Development: The Power of the Individual Professional
This summer is bringing sweeping changes to the worlds of green finance and ESG investment. Round the world, regulators are cracking down on greenwashing. The recent arrest at DWS (Deutsche Bank's asset management arm) in Germany, the dismissal of HSBC's head of sustainability in Britain, and the train of SEC actions against Goldman Sachs and BNY Mellon, amongst others, in the United States are the tip of an iceberg of trouble. There is also growing evidence that ESG funds in Europe and Japan have been underperforming overall markets, for the first time in most cases since comparative measurement started. Then in mid-June, researchers at the European Central Bank have said that it remains "unclear" whether the ESG investment industry is actually helping the fight against climate change.
So the burning question for many in the investment industry is whether ESG is on its last legs - in other words, near the end of its life, usefulness, or existence. If it is, what will replace it on the path towards more responsible, longer-term, more stable finance as part of the overall need to move towards more responsibility and a more sustainable world.
On a positive note, we have learned much in this very difficult year, after months of war and all its implications, about resilience, about the balance between steady and sustainable energy supply, and the needs of the climate challenge. What can we do, as individual professionals working in the real world, to live up to the challenge laid down by Mark Carney in his role as UK climate envoy, that from now on “every professional financial decision must be made with climate in mind”?
George qualified as a chartered accountant with PwC in London before becoming a journalist with The Economist, specialising in financial and economic matters. He is now Senior Adviser at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), a global professional body, having conducted advisory work in financial centres across Europe, the Middle East and Asia over the past two decades.
He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, with a masters in development economics, and the author of a number of works on risk management in finance, and most recently “Financing the sustainable energy transition,” part of “The geopolitics of the global energy transition” published by Springer.