“There is a big role that we can play, and it depends on who you are. You may be a consumer, you may be an investor, and you may be a fund manager. But you’re also a citizen, you have investing and political power, and you can do things in your own life as well.”
– Craig Reucassel at the BetaShares Sustainability Forum 2021.
Last week, we held the first BetaShares Sustainability Forum, bringing together global business leaders, industry specialists and some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs to discuss how individuals can make a positive impact in the fight against climate change.
What’s really going to move the dial on climate change?
We heard from environmental activists, a presenter at COP26, the leader of sustainability for a global financial corporation, an ethical investment adviser, and the innovative founders of several Australian start-ups – all of whom share the goal of making this a better world and, most importantly, finding the solutions to reducing waste and emissions.
One philosophy they held in common – We all have to play our part.
Opening the event, comedian and sustainability activist Craig Reucassel said that, despite climate change requiring the coordinated action of governments and companies across the globe, individuals held significant power and could make a difference with their own actions.
As Craig said: “The question I posed at the beginning of this discussion was ‘What can I do?’. The reality is, right now we should be thinking ‘What can’t I do?’”.
COP26 takeaways and potential investment implications
We took the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) with Gabriela Herculano (CEO and Founder, iClima Earth), who spoke at the conference in Glasgow this month, on unifying metrics for impact and emissions globally.
She explained that iClima Earth tries to identify companies which offer decarbonisation solutions, yet retain the ability to drive returns. Herculano said the firm was focused on looking for companies that preclude emissions from ever taking place: “The whole industry has evolved towards looking for companies that are doing less harm, and companies that are in line with that 7.6% annual reduction, which is what the science says is needed for us to get to 2030 cutting our emissions in half.”
Karen McLeod (Ethical Investment Advisers) related the findings and discussions at COP26 to a local level for us here in Australia. She shared what she is hearing from clients, her research into greenwashing, and what her clients are looking for: “Clients are increasingly looking for better ways to protect their investments, but they want to have their cake and eat it too. They’re looking for market returns, but they also want to have low carbon as well as green and social benefits in their investments, and that is creating a lot of innovation.”
The evolution of ESG investing, and what lies ahead
Morgan Stanley’s Global Chief Sustainability Officer, Audrey Choi, spoke about how conversations around ESG and sustainable investing have evolved since she launched Morgan Stanley’s Global Sustainability Finance Group in 2009. Visualising the sector’s growth in the shape of an ice hockey stick, Choi said that more than $1 out of every $3 invested globally has a sustainability mandate, resulting in a US$30-$35 trillion market that is fundamentally core to business, and a significant risk for investors to consider.
The final panel session featured three of Australia’s leading sustainable innovators, who explained that companies that are at the forefront of driving change are those leading the way via no emissions to begin with.
Katherine McConnell from Brighte and Mike Smith from Zero Co are stopping emissions from ever being created, in relation to their businesses and the products and services they offer their clients – one step better than offsetting emissions. Dean Jones from GlamCorner is focused on reducing textile and production waste by recycling clothing, while reducing production requirements in the first place – given that most people typically use only one third of what is actually in their wardrobes!
We can now lock away over 11,000kg of carbon
An added benefit of this event is that we took a step further in the right direction by making the event ‘Beyond Carbon Neutral’. For each person who attended the event, C2Zero has locked away 21kg of carbon – more than a person from an average household produces in one day.
While carbon credits and offsets are widely understood, C2Zero goes one step further by stopping pollution before it happens. Big polluters – like oil and gas companies – have to buy emissions allowances, which effectively are the ‘permission slips’ they need to pollute. They are regulated and finite. C2Zero buys these allowances in the same global marketplace as the big polluters, but instead of using them to pollute, they are locked away forever so they can never be used. Find out more about C2Zero.
*Unfortunately, the recorded event excludes the keynote session with Craig Reucassel, there is a summary of this session in its place.
Australian Writer and Comedian,
Global Chief Sustainability Officer,
CEO and Founder,
Ethical Investment Advisers
CEO and Founder,
CEO and Co-founder,
Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer,
Senior Investment Specialist,
Director – Key Accounts and Adviser Business,