The Good, the Bad, and the Haggis
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All eyes are trained on Glasgow this week, where the most powerful decision-makers in the world have gathered to talk climate. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, is being closely followed for new climate commitments and deals as the urgency to stop the planet’s heating grows. And there has been some real progress. So far, we’ve seen:
Global pledges have been made by around 100 countries to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 and cut methane emissions by 30% of 2020 levels by 2030.
- Why this matters: This represents real consensus around key elements that are needed to combat climate change, and could set the stage for further progress over the coming days.
Over 450 financial firms, representing an eye-popping $130 trillion in assets, joined former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero to set net-zero targets.
- Why this matters: This is noteworthy because it shows a new level of private sector involvement in the conference, but critics say this move doesn’t reduce financing in fossil fuels nor absolute emissions, and that companies can’t be trusted to self-regulate.
A number of nations sharply criticized richer countries that have yet to fully fund their commitments towards a $100 billion target to help reduce emissions, and there are no concrete plans to fill this gap.
- Why this matters: Many of the emerging nations leading the calls for support are seeing direct impact from climate change; their calls raise many questions about the depth of the commitments behind the proclamations of consensus.
COP26 continues through Nov 12, so we'll bring you the biggest takeaways in next week's edition. In the meantime, enjoy a peek at what’s literally on the menu at COP26, including its carbon footprint. Can’t help noticing that haggis, the notorious Scottish national dish, comes in at 3.4 Kg CO2e — double an average meal in the UK.
3 tips to kick off your sustainable investing journey
Starting something new is often a little nerve-wracking. But entry points for sustainable investing are more accessible than you might think. As our CEO Jean Case recently wrote in MarketWatch, it’s possible for anyone to help make the world a better place while also generating some of those sweet, sweet returns.
- Decide what matters most to you. Investment decisions are highly personal, whether you’re a seasoned portfolio maven or just getting started. Your risk tolerance and desired rate of financial return—for instance, whether you want to build a 401K for retirement, or see if the markets can double your annual bonus — will shape your strategy, as will the issues you care about (and what your standards are for considering an investment “sustainable”). Start by identifying your priorities, and then get a lay of the land with a list like JUST Capital’s corporate rankings, which include performance on stock price as well as issues like environmental sustainability and workplace diversity.
- Pick a trading platform where you can focus your efforts. If you are brand-new to investing, it may be easiest to start with a retail investing app like Robinhood, Acorns, or Betterment, or the offerings from more traditional platforms like Fidelity, which can group ETFs, mutual funds, or individual shares that align with certain values. These platforms require a relatively low minimum investment (generally under $100), making diversification easier, and offer step-by-step guidance for newbies. (However, always read the fine print about management fees.) If you are already investing, decide how much capital in your existing portfolio(s) you’re willing to use to start your journey —again, this will be shaped by your personal goals. Talking to a financial advisor that specializes in impact or ESG investing may be a good idea, especially if you’re looking to move a large chunk of change.
- Follow the data. There are many free online tools for assessing the impact and return potential of a mutual fund, ETF, public company, or startup — including, in some cases, how they stack up relative to their peers. Current investors can open up their prospectus and hit the Google machine to see how the investments in their portfolio already line up; newcomers can identify the leaders on different issues and start making investments. This works in reverse, too — you may decide that you not only want to invest in what you believe in, but also divest from what you don’t. A number of good resources can be found in these MarketWatch and Forbes articles.
Beyond the headlines, memes, and dramatic price movements, cryptocurrencies and blockchain are quietly revolutionizing one of the biggest institutions in the world – banking.