$34 Trillion Invested Responsibly

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon just spoke at the New York Stock Exchange. Thanks to this tweet by INCR for the link.

And he said this:

That is why the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment now has more than 1,200 signatories who collectively manage over $34 trillion in assets.  Each has committed to incorporate sustainability into their investment decision-making, ownership practices and engagement with companies.

That’s a lot of investment money. Bill McKibben would probably be delighted if they all sign up to his idea of divesting from fossil fuels.

Right now, the United Nations “Responsible Investment” principles don’t include that, though. There are six principles. These are about giving “ESG” a bigger role in investment decisions.

If you wondered what “ESG” means, here is the relevant Wikipedia article. “ESG” stands for “Environmental, social, and corperate governance”.

From that article I learn that there is something called the “Sextet of Sin“. It used to be only five, that is Alcohol, Tobacco, Pornography, Gambling, and Armaments, but in the 1960s Nuclear Energy joined that group of investments to be avoided by the ethically aware investor.

In contrast, fossil fuel is not yet mentioned.

And I don’t think it should be. Burning fossil fuel is bad for the planet. But stopping to buy it will only lead to lower prices. It’s actually the other way round. Everybody should invest in buying fossil fuel, and then hoarding it. That would send prices up. Which would help burn less. And, of course, make a profit for the investors who brought up the market by buying and hoarding in the first place.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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