• 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

How to invest in de-growth

Some investors are looking to reduce their resource footprint by including circular, regenerative and sharing economy themes in their portfolios

Investing in post-growth or de-growth may sound oxymoronic, but investors are already allocating capital to economic activities that aim to reduce overall resource and energy consumption.

Degrowth or post-growth refers to a growing body of thought that argues that a truly sustainable economy requires putting the brakes on GDP growth, especially in rich countries, and scaling down harmful and wasteful business models.

However, even the most ardent degrowthers don’t call for a blanket ban on growth. For example, the five-point post-corona degrowth plan, which was discussed in the Dutch parliament in 2020, calls to “differentiate between sectors that can grow and need investment ... and sectors that must radically degrow due to their fundamental unsustainability or their role in driving continuous and excessive consumption.”

“I've always found the concept of degrowth very interesting, because it's apparent from a common sense perspective that we cannot sustain endless growth,” said Jaqueline Jackson, head of responsible investment at London CIV.

Pension investors "have to take a long-term perspective" and consider the benefits of a long-term and resilient economy, she added. London CIV focuses “less on short-term returns than stable returns over a long period of time”. 

Degrowth is one way of approaching that long-term perspective.

Circular, regenerative, and sharing economy

Some of the most obvious post-growth or degrowth opportunities include the circular and sharing economy, though the market, which mainly consists of start-ups, is still relatively immature, according to ABS bank. It is therefore unclear when it might be completely suitable for institutional investors such as pension funds.

Pension funds typically need large ticket sizes and relatively safe risk-return profiles before deploying capital.

However, that hasn’t stopped some. In her role at London CIV, Jackson said she has been grappling with how she can “support green growth and degrowth strategies in a way that benefits the portfolio and maintains fiduciary duties”.

“I don't believe that embracing degrowth means shrinking investments,” she said. “It could be about focusing on quality rather than quantity, or how companies prioritise wellbeing or efficiency or reducing waste. It’s about supporting companies that align with degrowth principles.”

Examples of how this would work in practice for a pension fund include emphasis on the regenerative economy, though it is still early days when considering degrowth as an investment concept. 

"We would look to investments in companies that support these principles through circularity (having a neutral or positive impact on biodiversity), by consuming fewer resources, producing more renewable resources, repurposing products or extending their useful lives, whilst offering greater social and economic inclusion," she said.

Key examples where capital allocation align with these principles include investments in companies like Philips, Unilever, and Cisco, which are working toward circular business models by engaging with Ellen MacArthur Foundation's "Circular Economy 100" program.


I don't believe that embracing degrowth means shrinking investments. It could be about focusing on quality rather than quantity, or how companies prioritise wellbeing or efficiency or reducing waste.

Jacqueline Jackson, head of responsible investment at London CIV

"We are also looking to understand how we may engage to support cross-sectoral efficiencies, such as better regeneration of scrap steel for the steel industry and use of steel waste for the cement industry," she added.

Whilst institutional investors are some way from degrowth in its purest form, thinking about a regenerative economy is "the right place to start".

London CIV already invests in renewables and sustainable agricultural technologies that support resource efficiency, as well as other circular economy solutions.

“Diversification is important here,” she added. Having a mix of traditional and regenerative degrowth-oriented investments helps investors mitigate risks associated with specific sectors while allowing exposure to potential growth areas.

Alternatives to fast fashion

“The circular economy is certainly one of our equity strategy themes,” said Chris Iggo, chief investment officer for core investments and chair of the AXA IM Investment Institute. “We invest in sustainable textile industries, waste management companies where household waste is being processed to provide new alternative fuels, and similar companies.”

AXA IM has recently allocated capital to Kornit Digital, an on-demand sustainable fashion company that aims to enhance resource efficiency, reduce environmental harm, and make positive societal impacts through its products. It is also invested in Lenzing, a sustainable fibre company.


There is a very practical capital allocation dimension to thinking about how societies can deal with resource overconsumption

Chris Iggo, chief investment officer for core investments and chair of the AXA IM Investment Institute

Fast fashion is closely related to overconsumption. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Its production methods release pollution into oceans and freshwater systems while many items are worn only seven before being tossed, according to British charity Barnado's.

A 2017 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that 35% of all microplastics – tiny pieces of non-biodegradable plastic – in the ocean come from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester.

The European Parliament recently proposed measures to "drive fast fashion out of fashion" and make textile products "more durable, easier to reuse, repair and recycle, made to a great extent of recycled fibres, and free of hazardous substances."

Does degrowth-washing exist?

Bill Murphy, director of Purpose Capital, said the most obvious degrowth-aligned investments tend to be hard to greenwash.

For example, Purpose Capital recently invested in a company that leases state-of-the-art refrigerant units to dairy farms.

In addition to dairy farms not having to buy new units, the leased units, which contain advanced leakage monitoring systems, and use much lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants, significantly decrease emissions.

The dairy industry is New Zealand’s largest industry and requires a huge number of refrigerants, which are one of the top ten contributors of carbon emissions.


Degrowth is a bit like Zen koan. The mind stops. What? You want us to degrow? What on earth does that mean?

Bill Murphy, director of Purpose Capital

“As the term degrowth becomes less scary, institutional investors may start to wave the flag and say we're investing in degrowth,” he said. “That could fundamentally alter the perception of what constitutes a truly sustainable investment.”

He also acknowledged some of the negative connotations surrounding the word degrowth in the investment community.

Hans Stegeman, chief economist at Triodos, said numerous circular economy funds already exist, but not all of them are sustainable. "It's still driven by large caps," he said. "And some of the investee businesses could and should do much better. At the moment, their main selling point is they’re not as bad as the rest.”

Transition resilience?

Popular support for degrowth principles from investors and policymakers could disrupt financial markets, as industries that rely heavily on consumerism and resource intensive production find themselves with stranded assets and/or rising capital costs.

“Companies in traditional sectors might face financial challenges,” said Jackson. “A big part of our responsible investment analysis entails understanding which companies will be most affected by and less resilient to degrowth and sustainability principles.”

The EU has already introduced the circular economy action plan, proposed banning fast fashion, and restricted single use plastics, while France has banned domestic short-haul flights where train alternatives exist. Such policies suggest some policy-driven disruption is already on its way and investing in degrowth may not only be an ethical decision but one that creates a degree of resilience in portfolios.

“Some business models, like those for fast fashion or short haul air travel, seem so deeply challenged that it will be a struggle for them to continue to exist if they account for the full costs of their production,” said Lloyd McAllister, head of sustainable investment, at Carmignac. “These businesses will continue to face increasing scrutiny in the near future.”


Unsustainable business models that facilitate the overconsumption of resources need either to be transformed wholesale or abandoned.

Like net zero, the prickly question of divestment versus engagement applies to degrowth-related investments.

“Our active ownership approach means we engage with companies to encourage sustainable practices,” said Jackson. “It doesn’t matter whether our portfolio companies position themselves as circular, green growth, or degrowth, we still expect all of them to aim for long-term sustainability.”

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