• Atmospheric CO2 /Parts per Million /Annual Averages /Data Source: noaa.gov

  • 1980338.91ppm

  • 1981340.11ppm

  • 1982340.86ppm

  • 1983342.53ppm

  • 1984344.07ppm

  • 1985345.54ppm

  • 1986346.97ppm

  • 1987348.68ppm

  • 1988351.16ppm

  • 1989352.78ppm

  • 1990354.05ppm

  • 1991355.39ppm

  • 1992356.1ppm

  • 1993356.83ppm

  • 1994358.33ppm

  • 1995360.18ppm

  • 1996361.93ppm

  • 1997363.04ppm

  • 1998365.7ppm

  • 1999367.8ppm

  • 2000368.97ppm

  • 2001370.57ppm

  • 2002372.59ppm

  • 2003375.14ppm

  • 2004376.96ppm

  • 2005378.97ppm

  • 2006381.13ppm

  • 2007382.9ppm

  • 2008385.01ppm

  • 2009386.5ppm

  • 2010388.76ppm

  • 2011390.63ppm

  • 2012392.65ppm

  • 2013395.39ppm

  • 2014397.34ppm

  • 2015399.65ppm

  • 2016403.09ppm

  • 2017405.22ppm

  • 2018407.62ppm

  • 2019410.07ppm

  • 2020412.44ppm

  • 2021414.72ppm

  • 2022418.56ppm

  • 2023421.08ppm

News & Views

Canbury’s Martindale: “It is time for a British responsible investment renaissance”

Will Martindale, co-founder of Canbury Insights and author of “Responsible Investment: An Insider’s Account” argues that in an age of populism, investors should see their role as policy makers, rather than being mere policy takers

By Will Martindale
Content Tags: Policy  Activism  Asset Allocation  UK 

Everyone was in, but no one spoke. There was a confidence – actually, no it was arrogance – just 24 hours earlier. The UK would vote to remain in Europe.

The polls said remain. Many politicians said remain. Even the celebrities said remain. But the people did not. David Cameron resigned. Theresa May, his successor, promised that Brexit Means Brexit.

Six months earlier, policymakers had signed the Paris Climate Agreement. Four years earlier, Britain had hosted the Olympics. Six years earlier, Britain had led the response to the Global Financial Crisis.

But for Britain, and increasingly elsewhere, an age of globalisation was to come to an end. An age of populism was to begin.

Responsible investment relegated

Turning to responsible investment, in the months and years ahead, the UK would be relegated to the wings. 6 of 20 HLEG members were Brits. But no longer. A period of European leadership would ensue. Meetings I hosted in Brussels invariably started with a mumbled apology.

Brexit went on and on and on and on. Years later, at COP 26, one government insider told me that the UK’s top diplomats had spent the past year on planes flying between Dublin and Brussels negotiating the backstop. Not working to deliver COP. COP agreed to phase down coal, but not phase out.

Populism spread. After the UK, the US. India and then Brazil. More recently Italy, Argentina and The Netherlands. Not to mention the emboldened strongman of Russia. And now to Europe.

In the 2024 European elections, 1 in 3 French voters backed National Rally, prompting Macron to call a snap election (just 1 in 6 backed Macron’s party).

3 in 10 Italian voters backed the populist right. 1 in 5 Germans did too. AfD (Alternative for Germany) is a right within a right. A right too far right even for France’s political right. And we have 5 months, and possibly 4 years, of President Trump dominating US political discourse.

The populist right is complex, but to generalise, it tends to dismiss climate change. Trump calls it a hoax. And despite its mixed following, it favours deregulation and tax cuts. It is nationalist, and in some countries, nativist.

Policy makers

Investors tend to stay out of politics, for a few reasons.

Not wanting to alienate a client base. A sense of trust the system: Politicians are reasonable people. The benefits of political favour. Few investors would think it wise to speak out about Trump.

But it’s hard to see how the populist right – in anyway whatsoever – is consistent with responsible investment. And investors are not just policy-takers, but policy-makers. Policy engagement – even political engagement – always has been part of the investor toolkit.

Back to the UK and Rishi Sunak trails in the polls. The election is scheduled for Independence Day, Thursday 4 July. The polls tell us that Sunak will lose; Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party will be Prime Minister.

A former human rights lawyer, Starmer has set out five pledges; including a publicly owned clean energy company and a green prosperity plan.

Many tell me it’s not enough. But so begins a period of British renaissance on responsible investment. Out from the wings, Britain once again has a role to play.

The British Conservative Party was not “anti-ESG”.

The Conservatives introduced TCFD reporting for UK pension schemes. The UK stewardship code – albeit overseen by an arms length regulator – was revised to include societal outcomes.

The UK FCA introduced the Sustainability Disclosure Rules, an improvement on Europe’s SFDR.

London remains home to responsible investment expertise. The PRI is headquartered in London. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and LSE host world-revered research programmes.

Theresa May didn’t get Brexit done. But as Home Secretary, May introduced the Modern Slavery Act and the first Modern Slavery Commissioner. The UK was the first in the G7 to legislate for Net Zero. New petrol vehicles were to be phased out. The UK was to be the Saudi Arabia of off-shore wind.

But that was lost in the bluster of Boris. And for his successor’s successor (because we shan’t mention Liz Truss) net zero was never a priority.

A new script

But if, under its likely new leadership, Britain is to return to the international responsible investment stage, the script today is very different to that of 2016.

A three-part structure:

  • Loose ends: A Labour government should decide what it is doing with its taxonomy. If it were me, I’d passport the EU’s. Investor climate reporting should be streamlined (triennial disclosures?) but include transition planning, nature and social issues. FMLC’s conclusions on fiduciary duty should be codified. And my pet project, TPR should issue guidance on stewardship resourcing.
  • Real economy: A UK equivalent to the Inflation Reduction Act and the EU green deal. Carbon pricing, commodity traceability, decarbonising buildings and agriculture, and the politically challenging, such as heat pumps, home insulation and taxing carbon.
  • Central to this article, international: Macron’s gamble may pay off, Europe’s populist right may have peaked, Biden may win his second term. We have six months to go in this epic year of elections. But in our world of responsible investment, however the electoral cards falls, a British renaissance is a likely consequence.

Responsible investment is not a bystander to politics. Rather politics is intrinsic to responsible investment. Elections in the UK, EU, US and elsewhere are not footnotes in a responsible investment strategy, but its front-and-centre.

More on this:

Dutch pension funds in the firing line over ESG performance link

Content Tags: Policy  Activism  Asset Allocation  UK 

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