In recent months there has been much debate about the risks and opportunities associated with investing in environmental, social and governance companies.
The growing evidence weighted in favour of ESG, particularly in light of the fossil fuel crisis, has led to interest in how to make investing in green companies easier and more transparent for advised clients.
The recent launch of the Make My Money Matter campaign aims to encourage the public and the finance sector to work together towards realising the green agenda of investing in sustainable companies.
Headed up by Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis and UN special envoy for climate action and finance Mark Carney, the campaign is a drive to inspire the public to be part of a more ethical global future through pensions investment.
- Richard Curtis and Mark Carney are campaigning to encourage more interest in ESG investing
- People may not realise their pension investments go against their principles
- Nest is investing in companies that have a sustainable future
Mr Curtis and Mr Carney, together with other business and third-sector leaders backing the campaign, see the £3tn of pension investments held nationally in the UK as a huge opportunity for a collective push to save the environment and create better social conditions for people around the world.
Begins with the personal
Mr Curtis says popular protest movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too show “people are prepared to change their behaviours to change the world”.
It is vital, he adds, to recognise that while law and regulation have a role to play in sustainable investing, real change “starts with the personal”.
He cites a conversation with Dr Bronwyn King, an oncologist saving lives from cancer. Dr King had a meeting with her pensions provider and found out her pension was funding tobacco companies.
Mr Curtis says this is a prime example of an individual’s pensions being invested in companies that directly oppose their values.
“We need to raise public awareness,” Mr Curtis says. “The public want their money invested in sustainable funds – affordable healthcare, affordable homes, vaccines, clean energy. Here’s a massive pot of money. What’s standing in the way?”
Role of industry
While Mr Curtis, a screenwriter responsible for popular films such as Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary, values the personal, public-led drive for the change reform boils down to, Mr Carney builds on this with his perspective on the role of business and industry.
Mr Carney says: “Finance lost its way in the run up to and during the financial crisis... We need finance to go back to being part of the solution; back to helping society achieve what it wants... Finance is meant to serve society. It is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end.”
The former Bank of England governor describes not only how finance needs to serve public need, but also says that “when business gets behind what society wants, it can do extraordinary things”. He identifies the “decisive role” the finance sector has to play in achieving a better global future and net zero, and what is “the enormous opportunity to act now”.