My hope for a convincing and genuine way to invest in nature one that doesnt devalue it – iNews

Posted: July 27, 2021 at 1:54 am


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To fight the climate change fight, you need to feel positive, confident and optimistic (Photo: iStockphoto)

Sometimes, it all gets a bit much. Parts of the Amazon are now giving out more CO2 than they are absorbing; parts of Germany and Belgium have been devastated by catastrophic flooding; wildfires rage across the western United States. Thats just the planet.

Then theres the global health crisis, Covid, which also seems to be spiralling with no end in sight if all countries cannot simultaneously get on the front foot with vaccines that work against all variants. This seems like a battle that can never be won.

Ive coined something called the doom sigh. Its the sound I make when reading any article or listening to any report that has an apocalyptic undertone, which is currently, many. Sometimes I doom sigh so much theres hardly any breath left thats an entry point into anxiety and in that state, nihilism wins and I feel unable to cook my own dinner, let alone act as a soldier in the global fight against climate change and pandemics.

Im sadly old enough to know this pattern of media-induced despair and where it leads. For me, this is the path to defeatism a big internal enemy. The its all too much attitude soon enough takes you to a place of I may as well be selfish and just enjoy myself then, because we are screwed anyway. This is not helpful.

Another internal enemy is wilful ignorance. Not reading the news might save you stress and I have huge sympathy for those suffering mental ill health as a result of too much bad news consumption. But not being informed isnt an option if you want to be part of the solution. Controlled consumption of news may be a sensible strategy. For example, during the worst of the first wave of the pandemic, I would only get my information from Channel 4 News one hour a day. For the rest of the day, I focused on my immediate loved ones and work.

Despondency is not going to stop climate change.If you are experiencing it, like in John Bunyons Slough of Despond the thick bog of the careworn and guilt laden inPilgrims Progress, you have to get through it to survive.

To fight the climate change fight, you need to feel positive, confident and optimistic. We have to believe we can create positive change, even in fact especially, when things seem dire. Thats becoming increasingly hard when the bad news is raining down. But like that psychological trick you can play on yourself to make you feel happy forcing a smile if one doesnt naturally occur every day to boost your joy hormones, an artificial boost of can-do spirit is necessary sometimes, especially in the face of such odds.

I often wonder if, in advocating for the power of our personal finances and investment to change the world, I am backing the right horse. Should I instead be working on systems change, regulation or policy? Changing things from the inside rather than placing yet another burden on the shoulders of normal people who must do something, like switch pensions, to feel like they have done their bit? As Ed Gillespie, author of Only Planet, said in a recent podcast, consumer-led change can only take us so far.

But then maybe there are no magic bullets here even regulation and policy have their limits. Planet-saving strategies are all just pieces of a puzzle, with everyone trying to find the right place for their piece. As with the fight against Covid, we all have a part to play in stopping the spread.

The limitations of the investment world are also becoming apparent, with claims last week that the burden of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) box-ticking is becoming too much for publicly-listed companies, costing them time and resources. To private equity investors without the same reporting requirements and fierce external scrutiny from stakeholders, ESG is fat to be trimmed and profit to be made. This, it has been suggested, is a looming threat to the ESG endeavour.

Another is the apparent impotence of investors to preserve and rescue so-called natural capital: nature to you and me, but if you are an investor, its nature that might have some economic value in addition to its hopefully fairly obvious value in and of itself.

Peter Michaelis, fund manager for the Liontrust Sustainable funds, said recently that while the UN Sustainable Development Goals are a useful framework for sustainable investors, the goals for life in water and life on land are difficult to support with profitable investments there are simply not enough companies both making money and meeting these goals for us to support these SDGs meaningfully with our bank accounts, ISAs and pensions. My hope is that a convincing and genuine way to invest in nature will emerge one that doesnt devalue it. But it might be that nature remains something uninvestable and we will have to rely on alternative ways to preserve it that do not depend on capital markets.

Over the last six weeks, Ive had a broken wrist and a Covid infection. Despondency levels were high I was drowning in Bunyons bog. Doom sighing at the news, doom sighing at my own inability to function.

Im feeling better now. The planet can too. Healing, regeneration, renewal. Even now, after so much damage has been done. But we have to believe it is possible and feel that sense of optimism about solutions if we are going to create the ways to make it happen.

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My hope for a convincing and genuine way to invest in nature one that doesnt devalue it - iNews

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July 27th, 2021 at 1:54 am

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