Ethics and the Internet: A round-table discussion on efforts to create a code of conduct for the Internet.

Held on Monday, September 9th


Speakers

  • Ben Caldecott (Oxford Smith School)

  • Nicolas Rabener (FactorResearch)

  • Marte Borhaug (Aviva Investors)


Agenda

 

The last meeting of our SF4B group was on June 11th – which seems like an age ago. Since then, I note (rather randomly):

  • the latest IPCC report, focusing on what agriculture and land use can do to cut their contribution (currently around 22%) to greenhouse gas emissions

  • the (very considerable) progress that both Federal and state courts are making in the US in their efforts to pin the financial impact of climate change on Big Oil (as health activists did with Big Tobacco a generation ago);

  • a new Bretton Woods Project report on the role of the MDBs in sustainable finance, a new low carbon future, etc.;

  • establishment of a new Sustainable Finance Group at Goldman Sachs (under John Goldstein) – a clear sign that there are big bucks to be made in the ESG area;

  • the purchase by Schroders of a majority stake in Blue Orchid (ditto);

  • Harvard Business School’s JV with Ronnie Cohen to develop a new “Impact-Weighted Accounts Initiative” as an alternative to GAAP;

  • the decision by the London Stock Exchange to re-label heavily polluting oil and gas producers as “non-renewable energy” – the financial equivalent  of being a registered sex offender;

  • a new report by Maritime Strategies suggesting that the world’s oil tanker fleet could become, almost literally, stranded assets;

  • reports that the UK government is considering a mandatory requirement for listed companies and pension funds to disclose climate-related risks; and

  • a decision by Chubb to ban insurance coverage for US coal companies. 

And so on. I should also add that the Financial Times has now jumped on the ESG bandwagon, with a weekly supplement that it coyly describes as “Moral Money” (‘normal’ moneymaking is therefore immoral?). Looking forward, I see the WEF is getting in on the act, with a Sustainable Development Impact Summit in the margins of the UNGA in New York in late September (a lot of hot air there, I fear).

But, of course, for every step forward there is at least half a step back. As Wood Mac pointed out only last week, “unprecedented efforts to install renewable power capacity have met only 2% of global energy demand – meaning the overwhelming reliance on fossil energy shows no sign of abating”.

I could go on – and on. The ESG world is fascinating and terrifying. But, much better, let’s find out what our regular guide, Ben Caldecott – from Oxford’s Smith School, where he is the founding director of the Sustainable Finance Programme – has to say (and what he has been up to over the Summer).

This month, he has back-up from:

  •  Nicolas Rabener, MD at FactorResarch – which offers “quantitative solutions for factor investing”. He is also the author of a recent report for AllAboutAlpha on ESG investing that offers a pretty good introduction to the complexities of the various strategies on offer.

  • Marte Borhaug, global head of ESG investment solutions at Aviva Investors. She is also a vice-chair of the OECD’s finance task force and a member of the CBI’s “35 Under-35 Committee”.

Frankly, I am stunned at how much is going on in this area. Not even Ben can cover it all, but there is no one in the business better able to offer a regular tour d’horizon. If you would like to join us (and, perhaps, share your own thoughts) please let us know by emailing alex@csfi.org or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. As usual (thanks to the hospitality of Deloitte), there will be lots of coffee, tea, and buns.

 

Many thanks,

 

Andrew Hilton

Director

CSFI

 

*We will try to start (and finish) on time.