In SF, there are two intersectional conferences on climate change and the PRI responsible investing conference. Some more personal fragmentary observations.
Physical climate risk is reaching up the agenda. We are starting to see it and feel it.
Much of the “mainstream” is not really here. Lots of policy, engagement, stewardship and ESG (environment social governance) teams. Very few portfolio managers, the risk takes who buy or sell billions in assets of stocks and debt and direct assets. Arguably, this is not hopeful.
Those I observe in SF are committed and passionate. They are bringing people along in a journey. Arguably this is hopeful.
But I recall two comments, Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever, retiring soon) - “I’m an asset creator” and Nassim Taleb - I paraphrase, if you want to change the world, don’t join an NGO, but go create a business.
The committed folk hope to mobilise and nudge capital, but I wonder more and more of late of the demand side of the equation.
The majority of large asset managers can now a credible narrative around ESG (Environment Social Governance). But, see also above “the mainstream is not here”.
The intersectionality problems are complex, often opaque. A Marriott staff employee spoke about how declining housekeeping makes her unemployed. It’s not only automation that takes away jobs. But is less housekeeping, and less washing, better for the environment, and profit margin? But not the humans.
I observe. Most waiters and waitresses are white with Gap Ad looks. The bus folk, those who clear the dishes. They are almost all coloured. Not allowed to take orders, barely likely to hold your eye - smiles are not at them.
Where mainstream PMs and analysts meet material ESG world, they do convert but I wonder about the silos.
I hear little on the demand side of the equation. The Global Climate Action Summit is also taking place. It comes across as disorganised and diffuse. But seemingly more focus on the “real economy”, Green tech entrepreneurs are about, although I don’t find them.
Still, parsing through, I sense managing food waste and sustainabilty could be a major unlock. Any ideas here, do shout.
The demand side could be a huge unlock. But, I’m unsure if I’m hearing ideas here. The single-use, the consumption it’s again and again - so hard to imagine it declining away. I’m hoping clever peeps are working on it. This to me will need cross silo thinking.
But, if I had to be - and I do - we are going to go through 2 deg warming. We will need to account for the cost of physical infrastructure loss and forced migration.
We, humans, weigh near term convenience so heavily, it seems to me we are unlikely to reach critical mass for changing behaviour until we are in crisis.
Although talking about crisis, given we’ve not changed significantly since the last financial crisis, I’m uncertain how it plays out.
But, humans have continually come out of crisis in better shape - and many other trends are in positive land. I try not to forget that.
I hold a lift for a man scurrying. That man turns out to be Paul Polman (Unilever, CEO, retiring soon). Maybe it’s the little things and connections that will save us.