Well, it's hard to believe it's been five years since my last post. Time flies. And that when it comes to the climate emergency and sustainability, that's not a great thing. As Bill McKibben often says "winning slow is the same as losing."
We've made some amazing progress in the last few years -- the cost of renewables has continued to plummet and clean energy's been a rapidly growing part of the energy mix; the investment community has largely woken up to climate risk and the importance of other sustainability factors, from justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) to agriculture, to biodiversity and more. But we're still so far from where we need to be.
I've been focusing most of my efforts on our work at the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) -- and it's been gratifying to see the progress. We have over 200 members -- a mix of endowments and other asset owners, investment managers, consultants and outsourced CIO firms and amazing nonprofit partners. And more endowments continue to take action, with a lot of focus and growing momentum on the concept of Net Zero Portfolios and addressing racial equity in the investment process.
But given the original purpose and audience of this blog, I'm going to try to focus more on the things we can all do as individuals in this critical moment. Despite lots of inaction and interference and misinformation from the fossil fuel industry and its allies, we've made some good progress over the past ~20 years. But we need to make a lot more over the next 8 years. So let's stay going.
I thought this short article from Bloomberg Green on "How to Think About Your Carbon Footprint" was a good one - showing where the origins of the concept came from -- the fossil fuel industry wanting to shift attention away from it's business model (a core concept behind the fossil fuel divestment movement that's often under appreciated) -- and also making the important point that while we all need to think systemically, our individual actions are indeed tied to that.
I was particularly pleased to see this point articulated:
Moreover, purchasing power sends a message to businesses that you support their investment in a climate-friendly world. There’s even public opinion polling to back this up. “For years, we’ve been asking, ‘Would you reward or punish companies for their actions?’” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, whose team has identified a growing consumer base that is “rewarding and punishing companies for their action or inaction on climate change.”
Because while every ton of carbon emissions avoided is important, sending these types of signals to the markets -- whether its the car companies, heat pump manufactures, solar companies, insulation installers, etc. -- if there's demand for it, companies will invest and grow that business, advertise and sell it to others who might not be self-motivated to take climate action, etc.
So, keep on pushing to reduce your own carbon footprint -- but also vote, write your politicians, look at your investments, and send a note to your alma mater(s) to encourage them to put sustainability at the center of their investment strategies, (and to join IEN if they haven't already :)
I'll aim to post some more quick, practical ways to take action... and hopefully before another five years goes by...