“The ecological convictions of many financiers vary like stock market prices”

“The ecological convictions of many financiers vary like stock market prices”

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Pcould companies be trusted to lead the fight against climate change? For several students from AgroParisTech, Sciences Po or Polytechnique, the answer is no. A disavowal which intervenes in a context where the ecological convictions of many leaders have varied like the prices of the Stock Exchange. Especially in finance.

At the start of the year, the boss of Blackrock [Larry Fink] promoted, in the context of its annual letter, stakeholder capitalism and expected companies to play “a role in the decarbonization of the global economy”. Five months later, radical change of discourse: “It is not up to the private sector to play the role of environmental police. »

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Same skepticism on the part of the now famous Stuart Kirk, ex-director of responsible investments at HSBC: “I’m told to spend my time looking at something that’s going to happen in twenty or thirty years. It’s completely disproportionate. » If these comments have been widely commented on, they have not been sufficiently described for what they are: a moral fault coupled with a strategic error.

A false sense of security

Finance plays a unique role in a country’s competitiveness and wealth. It manages the risks, the allocation of savings and part of the development. To this end, it is essential for the ecological transformation of companies. In Europe, for example, finance directs investments primarily towards sustainable activities to enable the European Union to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

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But when some of its most prominent incarnations euphemize the climate emergency and distance themselves verbally – at first – with measures that seek to create sustainable finance, they fail in their duty and forge a parallel reality in which climate risk is only a “possibility”. Thus taking the risk of disempowering some of their stakeholders.

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These figures of finance resemble Wallace Hartley (1878-1912), the conductor of the titanic, and its musicians. As the liner sank after hitting an iceberg, the instrumentalists continued to play until the end creating, historians say, a sense of security that caused people not to leave the ship in time.

Reshuffle the competitive game cards

By promoting skepticism, Fink, Kirk and the others go against the grain of history. While the finance sector remains dominated by traditional assets, its green version is recording the strongest growth. In its April report, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) demonstrated the outperformance of funds with environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria over the year 2020.

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