Challenge #25 ~ Value-based Spending

Read the blog post on the August Theme – FINANCE

 Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

If the global economy wouldn’t have collapsed in 2008 … 

In 2007, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative published a report titled Green Financial Products and Services: Current Trends and Future Opportunities in North America. The report evaluates the drivers for green financial products and services, assesses the demand and products on offer, and outlines the potential and opportunities for more green financial products and services. It listed green car loans, energy efficiency mortgages, alternative energy venture capital, eco-savings deposits, and “green” credit cards as some of the green financial products that were on offer at that time.

“In an age where environmental risks and opportunities abound, so too have the options for reconciling environmental matters with lending and financing arrangements.”

Green Financial Products and Services: Current Trends and Future Opportunities in North America

While many of these green financial initiatives took a back seat to other issues during the financial crisis, it is still true today that “A principal challenge for banks will be to create effective and far-reaching market-based solutions to address a range of environmental problems, including climate change, deforestation, air quality issues and biodiversity loss, while at the same time identifying and securing new business opportunities that benefit customers,” according to the UNEP. 

Ignoring our planet’s peril is no longer an option. A longer term perspective is needed if we want to see our future prosper. No matter how much money we have, if we don’t have a future we won’t be able to make any use of it. 

DO INDIVIDUALS HAVE A CHOICE AND A VOICE?

YES, we do! 

AS CONSUMERS

Every time we shop, we vote with our wallet. By thinking about our purchases not only in terms of what we need or want, but how those purchases impact the planet, we can have a positive, sustainable impact. Shopping based on our values sends a strong message to providers of goods and services that their values and practices matter.

We can amplify our impact by paying attention to what our money is supporting when shopping. For example, we can choose local produce to reduce the amount of fuel needed to deliver it from the farm to our plates.

AS EMPLOYEES AND SHAREHOLDERS

Previously unthinkable, in the 2017 annual meeting ExxonMobil shareholders demanded answers about the company’s risks from climate change and pressured the board into action to reduce the risks to the company’s assets and shareholders’ returns. Stakeholders can have a positive influence on companies’ sustainability strategies. 

Inform ourselves about our employer’s sustainability strategies and policies, show our support, and learn how we can contribute. 

AS STUDENTS AND PARENTS

In May 2016 University of Massachusetts Amherst became the first public US university to announce that it would divest its endowment from direct holdings in fossil fuels. In 2016 Australia’s La Trobe University also committed to divest from fossil fuel companies within five years. According to the vice-chancellor, “At La Trobe, we believe economic profitability and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive.”

And more recently, youth activists of all ages have become increasingly vocal in demanding urgent climate action from their educational institutes, from primary school to future colleges. We are witnessing a powerful surge in individual climate action in education, from Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s call for #FridayForFuture school strikes to urgent wakeup calls for colleges.

As fee paying parents, we can choose to support educational institutes that pay attention to their sustainability credentials.  

Encourage our schools, colleges, and universities to make sustainability an integral part of not only the curriculum, but their operational planning as well. 

AS INVESTORS

New tools to quantify environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment actions are becoming available. Arabesque, referred to as the Tesla for Finance, quantifies economic efforts of sustainability with a new AI-and big-data-based tool called S-Ray™. The ambition is that S-Ray™ will be as important to the finance industry and ESG Investing as X-Ray was to the medical and health industry. The tool allows anyone to monitor the sustainability of more than 4,000 of the world’s largest corporations over 200 ESG metrics and look beneath a company’s surface by assessing its extra financial performance to help better understand its value to society. It is the first tool of its kind to rate companies on the normative principles of the United Nations Global Compact of Human Rights, Labour Rights, the Environment, and Anti-Corruption. 

To make an impact through our investment portfolio, we can ask our financial advisor to invest according to Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) principles and divest from fossil fuels.

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