An inherent aspect of sustainability is about encouraging the players of a market economy to consider the long term. This is explicit in the European Commission’s Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth; one of the plan’s three aims is to ‘foster transparency and long-termism’. If all CEOs and investors were only concerned about the next few quarters, or even years, then it’s easy to understand how sustainable factors such as finite resources, climate change and diversity wouldn’t feature high on the agenda.
Of the recovery bills approved by global governments during the peak of the pandemic, little focused on a green recovery. Most were attentive to quick-acting programs to protect jobs and to ensure the survival of businesses.
There is a consensus emerging that society and investors are best served by companies that focus on sustainable value creation rather than short-term profit. Many companies communicate increasingly loudly about how sustainability is core to their purpose, producing shiny brochures full of positive stories and setting targets such as the wave of 2050 carbon neutrality targets seen in recent months. However, one of the great challenges of sustainable investing is identifying the difference between company rhetoric and action.
A documentary film called ‘Planet of the Humans’ was recently released online to much controversy. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it describes itself as a “full-frontal assault on our sacred cows’, arguing that renewable energy and green movements have been hijacked by the traditional form of capitalism, and that these technologies are not as good for the environment or society as we’re led to believe.
For four weeks now, the majority of our firm has worked from home. Thanks to a fantastic head of IT, and significant investment in video conferencing last year, our work has continued without a blip. Each in our own homes we’re able to use our systems, securely locate files from our drives and speak to each other face to video-face whenever we need to.