Investments which take broader environmental or social goals into account are increasingly popular. Under the banner of ESG, finance is trying to offer socially conscious investors an ethical way to make money, and even create social change.
Like all things, the devil is in the detail. From this piece on ESG investing in the FT:
Competition between ESG ratings providers presumably creates arbitrage conditions for opportunistic organisations looking to get a favorable ranking. Done right, initiatives like the EU’s new green investment taxonomy will help address the problem.
The FT reports that scientists are warning the EU that its new rules for what constitutes sustainable finance endanger its pledge to reduce emission to net zero by 2050.
Sustainable finance requires some way of distinguishing between unsustainable and sustainable investments. While there are lots of private ratings agencies, the EU wants to create its own taxonomy for “what counts as green investment.”
On the surface this is wonderful and a great step for humanity. As is often the case, the devil is in the details. There is an enormous amount of money riding on whether an investment counts as “green,” and there is a corresponding pressure being applied to how the standards are written.
These arcane rules, negotiated in anonymous conference rooms in Brussels, will dictate the flow of trillions of dollars. We need to watch closely.
I highly recommend following Daniela Gabor’s work on this topic.