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New Climate Capitalism
46 minutes | 13 days ago
#17 Sustainability under attack: Lessons from Danone
Joining me to make sense of the recent dramatic exit of Emmanuel Faber from Danone following a hedge fund attack, are two leading lights of the sustainable business space.Louise Kjellerup Roper is CEO of UK-based Volans, which advises companies that are transitioning to sustainability. Mark Desjardine is a researcher at Penn State University specialized in hedge fund activism.So, was Danone the story of the limits to sustainability?Or is this the opening shot in a new chapter for sustainable business?One that moves beyond the myth of the Sustainability Superhero CEO who acts very much alone to drive the transition, to sell it to the media, and to defend that vision against enemy attacks, both from within and from without.I love this interview because Louise and Mark basically interview eachother, putting together the latest research findings on hedge fund activism, and the signals from companies that are breaking new ground in sustainable business. What emerges is an analysis of the Danone case that goes well beyond the Good vs Evil narrative, and provides fresh insight into the risks and opportunities of this new phase of the sustainability revolution.Timecode:5:40 Firms that do more CSR are more likely to be attacked by activist hedge funds8:30 Only long-term investors can bring the triple bottom line together14:50 New trend of “ESG-style” activist hedge funds like Engine No. 1 - greenwash?19:36 Compare Polman’s and Faber’s responses to hedge fund attacks21.30 Female CEOs make companies more vulnerable to hedge fund attack. Why?24:50 Has the sun set on the era of the alpha male Sustainability CEO Hero?32:56 A new generation of “sustainability-native” leaders will change the game38:45 Should we regulate hedge funds out of business? 41:26 Investor relations is a key battleground for sustainability and long-term thinking Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
39 minutes | 2 months ago
#16 Are women the key to a greener financial future?
Welcome to episode #16 of New Climate Capitalism, and today we're talking about financial feminism.My guest is Jessica Robinson, who's just published a new book called "Financial Feminism: A Woman's Guide To Investing for a Sustainable Future".Reading her book was a both a wake-up call, and a call to action for me personally. Everyone knows about the gender pay gap, and sadly, if you are a woman, you have experienced it. But the hurdles don't end there. There's also a savings gap, a pension gap, even a debt gap. And that woman who spoke so brilliantly in the meeting? She may not be as self-confident about her finances. In fact, many women report feeling spoken down to when talking with a financial advisor, the majority of whom are men. However The good news is that women are holding more and more wealth globally, and a lot of this wealth is being channelled into sustainable investing. Jessica's book really inspired me to take a long hard look at my own approach to saving and investing, and I found our conversation tremendously empowering. I do hope you enjoy it. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
37 minutes | 3 months ago
#15 Australian student sues the government to climate-proof her pension
Climate litigation is on the rise all over the world, and Australia is the global hot-spot for climate lawsuits.One of the most interesting cases going on there right now is a world-first involving a 23-year old student from Victoria who is suing the Australian government for failing to disclose climate change risk to sovereign bond investors.To understand the case, and its implications, I talked to David Barnden, who is the founder of Equity Generation Lawyers, and he represents Katta O’Donnell in the O’Donnell v Commonwealth which was brought last year.Let's pause for a moment to reflect on how this case is unusual and potentially game changing. Its the first time anyone has sued a government anywhere on failing to disclose climate risk on sovereign bonds. What’s more, sovereign bonds are traditionally seen as very safe investments, and they are key components of all pension funds. But guess what? In 2019, the Swedish central bank decided to dump Western Australian and Queensland bonds from their portfolio because of climate risk concerns. I talk to David about how this unusual case came about, what the stakes are and what the rest of the world can learn from it.Our conversation really gets to the heart of some big questions about the relationship between the law, the state and the interests of capital and the public. Cases like O'Donnell v Commonwealth are not just about a new type of climate action, they could - potentially - transform the way capitalism is encoded into the law.Personally I find this topic very exciting, so I hope you enjoy our conversation. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
41 minutes | 3 months ago
#14 Is the future of wealth social and cultural?
Welcome to Episode 14 of New Climate Capitalism. Today I’m talking with Siddarth Shtalekar, who's the founder of Sacred Capital, a Singapore-based company that's building reputational currencies on distributed ledgers.If you're thinking “that sounds a bit abstract”, in essence this is an invitation to think way past business as usual to a new idea of currency and wealth.And the timing couldn't be more perfect. The pandemic has forced us to deeply question the value of everything, and to re-assess things like the relationship between money and identity.Sid has an unusual personal story which is something of a metaphor for the economic future he's trying to build.Before the financial crisis of 2008 he was the head of one of South Asia's largest trading floors. He then spent four years in a Gandhian ashram exploring new paradigms for economics.So if you're interested in how to expand the definition of wealth to include capital that's social, cultural and intellectual, I guarantee that you will enjoy this conversation. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
49 minutes | 4 months ago
S2 Ep 3 The hardest of hard problems: modern slavery in the supply chain
Welcome to episode 13 of New Climate Capitalism.Our topic today is modern slavery in the supply chain. This is one of those big, disturbing issues that affects all of us. Each time we buy a bar of chocolate, an iPhone, an item of clothing, it is likely that someone, somewhere, a fellow human being, will have been subjected, often against their will, to abject working conditions to produce that item.How should we define modern slavery? What are its root causes? And what can companies and consumers do to fight it?To find out, I spoke to Michael Rogerson, who is a researcher at the University of Bath specialised in modern slavery. Coming from an accounting background, he has a unique and compelling perspective on this topic which is usually the preserve of activist NGOs.If you're working on the "S" of ESG, you should be following this very closely. And if you consider yourself an ethical consumer, or if you're worried and would like to do better, do not miss this episode. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
35 minutes | 4 months ago
S2 Ep 2: Why foundations are rushing into green finance
Welcome to Episode 12 of New Climate Capitalism.Philanthropic foundations are not generally known for being players in green finance but that started to change a few years ago, and right now more and more players are diving into the space.To find out what’s going on, I talked to Marilyn Waite, who leads the climate and sustainable finance work at the Hewlett Foundation. Right now that’s a portfolio worth 75 million US dollars over five years.Foundations are special because their non-accountability allows them to be very nimble and responsive, and this gives them tremendous leverage to come in with an agenda for change that can, over time, exert influence on the dominant agenda and narrative.So don't miss this episode to find out where foundations are putting their money and why right now. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
40 minutes | 4 months ago
S2 Ep 1: Just Transition: Use and misuse of language by the climate elite
Welcome to Season 2 of New Climate Capitalism!Today’s episode looks at the Just Transition and the climate elite.I talked to Edouard Morena, a Paris-based researcher who studies the social and justice dimensions of climate action, as well as climate philanthropy.You may have heard the term Just Transition which has become very popular ever since the 2018 Yellow Vest movement in France. Edouard warns that this term has become distanced from its original meaning, and is increasingly being used in a tokenistic way.But beyond that is much a bigger story about the widening gap between people and climate policy. About the missed opportunities from proliferating citizens assemblies. About a proactive far-right that is muscling in with new environmental narratives to get votes. So what’s going on, and what should we be worried about? Don’t miss this fascinating conversation, which I guarantee will give you some new insights into the importance of language and narrative in the international climate policy space. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
30 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode #10. What does it feel like to be a climate scientist at the end of 2020?
For the last episode of Season One, U.S. climate scientist Kim Nicholas gives a brief on the latest research, and whether or not we can be hopeful about 2021. She has a new book coming out soon about climate change called “Under the Sky We Make” which everyone should read.This is a very special conversation in which Kim talks openly about something we don’t often hear about in the news.Thanks to Greta, more and more people are listening to the science. But have you wondered about the emotional impact that doing the science has on the scientists themselves?In fact, many climate scientists suffer from feelings of frustration and helplessness that they can't stop the increase in emissions. Many are driven to take action outside the lab by joining protest marches, giving public talks, talking to the media and to politicians.So this is a behind the scenes peek at what it feels like to be climate scientist in 2020.Kim tells a heart-rending story about her experience this summer amid the wildfires of her beloved native California. She talks about the challenge of being successful in science when you've chosen to stop flying to conferences, and explains why it was important to her to write a book for a general audience.Don't miss this episode, it will literally change the way you feel the next time you hear Greta say "Listen to the science". Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
21 minutes | 7 months ago
Briefing: Climate risk in 5 questions with Veena Ramani
Today I'm talking about climate risk with Veena Ramani. She’s Senior Program Director of Capital Markets Systems at Ceres, a non-profit in the U.S. that advocates for sustainability in business.This is the first in an occasional series of briefings which take a concept or a term that's widely used, that can often give rise to confusion or misunderstanding.Climate risk sounds like an obvious term that anyone can understand, right?But it turns out to be one those false friends - like when you learn a new language and you think you recognise a word, but it turns out the word has a different meaning.So what is risk? What is climate risk? What is finance, and what is financial stability? If you can answer these questions without hesitation, then this episode is definitely not for you.But if you're unsure, then I recommend you keep listening.There’s something about revisiting core terms that often gives rise to new and unexpected questions. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
30 minutes | 7 months ago
Episode #9: What did we learn from the Rio Tinto disaster?
When the news broke in May that Rio Tinto had blown up an ancient Aboriginal site to mine for premium iron ore, the world reacted in horror and disbelief.Five months on, the CEO and 2 senior executives have been sacked. But what have we learned, and what are the prospects for change? The kind of change that guarantees such a tragedy will never happen again.To find out, I talked to Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), which coordinated an activist investor campaign against Rio Tinto. Some are calling this a landmark case, a turning point for stakeholder capitalism.It’s definitely a success story for investor activism. But it also exposes the cosy relationships among mining, law and politics that allowed this disaster to happen. It is a cautionary tale for everyone because the fact that it even happened beggars belief, and leaves one - as Burchell Hayes from the PKKP says “without words to describe the feeling”.Don’t miss this deeply thought-provoking episode.Thanks to ABC Radio for permission to use an extract from the June 5 interview with Burchell Hayes. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
44 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode #8. Is climate-aligned finance the next big thing for decarbonizing finance?
Today’s guest is Paul Bodnar, Managing Director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. We talk about their recently launched Centre for Climate-Aligned Finance, which is a promising new approach to decarbonizing the financial sector inspired by the shipping finance sector.What’s very cool about talking to Paul is that he used to work in the Obama administration as a climate expert, and was part of the US team that worked on the negotiations that gave us the Paris Agreement. So we start out with a flashback to those suspenseful moments at the conference centre at Le Bourget back in 2015, and trace the ensuing developments in climate finance since then.Progress in recent years has been underwhelming despite an abundance of approaches, standards and initiatives. So I was keen to learn more about this new approach pioneered by the shipping finance sector & known as the “Poseidon Principles” . Is this an emerging gold standard? It’s hardly a surprise to find out this first global, sector-wide and self-governing climate alignment agreement among financial institutions has some elements of commonality with the Paris Agreement process, although its much narrower in scope because it pertains to one sector and its stakeholders.It was a real treat to talk to someone who has such full-spectrum knowledge of the climate action process: Paul brings together the diplomacy, the politics and the finance of climate change into a clear and coherent whole. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
40 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode #7. Green bonds: hype or key to greening the future?
Welcome to episode 7 of New Climate Capitalism, and today I talk with Denise Odaro from the International Finance Corporation about green bonds.Green bonds took a back seat to social bonds during the first wave of the pandemic. But they're back in the headlines with a couple of big issues recently from Google and the German government.If you've ever wondered what’s a green bond and why does it matter? Then this episode is for you.The green bond market has grown super fast in the past decade. Yet it still only represents 2% of the entire bond market.So the big question is whether the green bond market will continue to be a niche that finances the greenest bits of the economy, or whether it can go mainstream and allow the entire bond market to align itself with an economic transition that keeps us under 2C of warming.Denise and I talked about where the green bond came from, what makes a bond green, and what is the future of the green bond market. This episodes also features a special appearance by my cat. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
41 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode # 6. Are today's boards fit to lead the transition to net zero?
Since 2015, climate change has gone from being a niche technical subject to a must-have competence for company boards. What are boards doing to ensure that they have that competence is the focus of today’s discussion.Gillian Karran-Cumberlege is a steering committee member of Chapter Zero, the UK director's forum for learning about climate change, a corporate governance expert who is both an advisor to boards and a board member herself.We talked about the importance of diversity on boards as a key to unlocking that climate competence - diverse boards do tend to be more curious and quick to learn on climate change. And how important it is for women - still only one-third of all boards in the UK - to not be invisible, to have a voice in the boardroom that goes way beyond asserting technical competence. Change is coming to the boardroom, and it’s being driven by everything from the impacts of climate change on business strategy to Black Lives Matter to the COVID-19 pandemic. But is that change happening fast enough? Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
37 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode # 5. Regulators have the magic wand to green the banking sector. Why won't they wave it?
Thierry Philipponnat is Head of Advocacy and Research at the Brussels-based NGO Finance Watch, and author of a new report called “Breaking the Climate-Finance Doom Loop”. In this episode, he explains why banks are trapped in this cycle of continuing to fund risky oil and gas exploration and operations which put the stability of the entire financial system at risk. And how that doom loop can be broken through a simple tweak to the rules on banks capital risk requirements under European law. Banks are coming under fire for bankrolling the brown economy. Central banks and regulators acknowledge something has to change, but everyone is waiting for an answer that - according to Thierry - will never come. An answer to the question “How can we quantify the risk of climate change?”He suggests that we stop trying to measure the un-measurable, and treat all brown lending as high risk. To find out how that works, listen to the episode. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
38 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode #4. Is the AGM a new staging ground for climate activism?
We’re going behind the scenes of a new and fast growing niche for climate activism. What happens when an NGO takes on one of the world’s biggest banks through its own boardroom to ask the question: “Please stop lending to oil and coal companies?”Unlike classic environmental campaigns which rely on mass mobilization to exert pressure, shareholder activism is invisible to the public eye - everything happens behind the scenes. I talked to Wolfgang Kuhn of ShareAction, the London-based charity which coordinated a recent campaign at Barclays Bank. The story of that campaign reads like a play in five acts: filled with unexpected twists, conflict, struggle and, ultimately, resolution. What's remarkable is how a small, determined actor from civil society can lead a dance with a major global bank that ultimately changes the rules of the game as well as the bank’s policy on climate change. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
41 minutes | a year ago
Episode # 3. Will the pandemic be green finance's breakthough moment?
Today’s episode is a master class in green and sustainable finance with Daniel Klier, Global Head of Sustainable Finance at HSBC. What’s the impact of COVID-19 on sustainable investing? What trends are emerging, and what to expect in the post-crisis recovery? Why is risk disclosure so important for the future of sustainability? Are we on the brink of a revolution in greening personal finance? Don’t miss this episode, Daniel really does provide remarkable clarity on all these topics which are often obscured by jargon and acronyms. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
16 minutes | a year ago
Episode # 2. Mark Lewis on carbon markets and the theory of change, plus the calamity of Hamlet's indecision
Mark Lewis is a world-leading expert on energy and environmental markets, and was one of the world's first carbon market analysts. What’s less known about Mark is his love of Shakespeare, and how he connects that with his work on climate change. We talked about his theory of change for finance and climate, how the 2008 Great Financial Crisis catalysed a Shakespeare reading marathon which has inspired and supported his work on climate change ever since, and why the world must at all costs avoid the calamity of Hamlet's indecision. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
23 minutes | a year ago
Episode #1. Sony Kapoor on Norway's Oil Fund & the epic battle for a fossil-free future
My first guest is Sony Kapoor, he’s Managing Director of the Nordic Institute for Finance, Technology and Sustainability. Since we spoke in March, the oil price has hit new historic lows and underscored how Norway is cautionary tale on the epic battle ahead on how to decouple from heavy fossil-dependency. We talked about the Norway Oil Fund, and how it’s become a flashpoint between politics, finance and civil society about Norway’s economic future. Despite Norway’s image as a clean, green, Nordic nation, it shares some surprising traits in common with other oil producing countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
2 minutes | a year ago
Introducing 'New Climate Capitalism'
Hello! And welcome to New Climate Capitalism, a podcast about change-makers working at the crossroads of climate, finance and investment. I’m your host, Denise Young, and I’ll be talking to people who are making a difference in green finance today, the ones who are really passionate about change. We’ll find out how they ended up in this space, what inspires them, what they’re working on, and what we can learn from them about upping our personal agency on climate action through investment. Get on the email list at climatenarrativesannotated.substack.com
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