This Episode is a slightly longer version of a TEDx Talk I gave at Singapore’s National Gallery on 28 April 2021 about ESG.
What Bill Gates calls the “Green Premium”, the extra cost we have to pay because most zero-carbon products currently appear more expensive than their fossil-fuel equivalents, doesn’t in fact exist. We only have a “green premium” because we have been “cooking the books,” mis-stating the earnings of corporations worldwide by letting them get away with not pricing their environmental destruction through their income statements. As a result, based on mis-stated and incorrect corporate profits, we have diverted trillions over the past 40 years which could have moved us to a safer planet much faster, but instead were spent digging and burning more coal, oil, and gas, producing more plastic and paying everybody handsomely along the way. The “cooking the books” pandemic needs to be stopped right now.
The Angry Clean Energy Guy on pretty much everything you need to know about ESG, starting with the need to be very suspicious whenever you see an ESG label on an investment product. ESG has become a huge business, with one dollar out of every 3 professionally managed dollars in the US for example labelled “ESG” (and an even greater proportion in Europe). The trend is clear and pretty much 100% of funds under management will have an ESG label soon. But in order for this to have a material impact in the fight for clean air, against climate change and against environmental destruction, we need global ESG standards and we need to divorce the “E” from the “S” and the “G”. Then, we need to price the “E”: Climate risk isn’t just a disclosure issue and should be priced into earnings, as should other environmental risks. Then we would have a chance to change the world.
If you want to get elected, requirement number one is to come up with a meaningless tagline while pretending everything is going pear-shaped, e.g. “Take Back Control” or “Make America Great Again.” Adopting tactics from that playbook, today’s requirement number one to continue to pollute at will (while everything is actually going pear-shaped) is to announce “NET ZERO by [insert date, the more distant the better],” then to keep polluting at will, hiding behind voluntary carbon offsets. So I am just going to come out and say it: Voluntary carbon markets should be cancelled. All of them. Corporations buying carbon offsets when not required by law, in other words voluntary carbon credits, are greenwashing. Some know it, some don’t – it doesn’t matter in any case: They need to stop. Individuals buying carbon offsets on a voluntary basis (to offset their flights or the pollution from their gas-guzzling SUVs) are mostly being abused.