Sustainability and Time vs. ESG + Greenwashing

Today, two articles triggered with me, quite in line with my experience about ESG greenwashing and priorities and my impression that thinking about sustainability and the busted Paris agreement! There is no “Planet B”!

What the Others Say

The Tasks at the End of the Road
© Lucas Varela/Financial Times

The first article a LinkedIn-post by Satish Bapat referred to. A Financial Times article (FT*) by Oliver Burkeman considers how we burn up our time, how emptying the e-Mail inbox naturally refills it (from our responses), etc., etc. But how little time we truly have.

The second one was referred to in response to a LinkedIn-post by Harald Walkate on another article from FT Moral Money about the mislabeling of ESG. To which Alan Hayes commented with a link to a Bloomberg Article* about the U.S. SEC challenges companies for abuse of #greenwashing.

That triggered with a discussion at the recent GITA Unconference by Abdelrahman (Abdo) Wahba about the management of all the Marketing Bullshit (BS) we are confronted with (YouTube link). Which includes unfortunately more massive #greenwashing.

GITA Unconference

At the Unconference of the Green Impact Tech Alliance, I spoke about the Bumps on the Road to Sustainabilityspeaker notes, Youtube link and Channel). Summarizing my thoughts about why all those claims for carbon-neutral and energy-transition are bland lies and far from real. More in line with “wag the dog”, distracting from the real problem. An issue just in line with Abdo’s message that most of what we hear is “shit, packed in chocolate cake” and we should believe only half of what we see, half of what we hear. And apply a reality check before we believe all the BS.

If you are into sustainability (beyond aviation) and ESG, I strongly recommend you have a look! And yes, I’d much like to discuss it.

Assuming you know my page addressing The Sustainability-Energy Dilemma, it all boils down to Energy consumption. But while we need to make smarter energy use and reduce the overall energy consumption, this is a challenge I don’t yet see addressed at all. “Digital” will solve the climate challenge? Adding more and more data centers that account already for more than half the electricity in the Frankfurt region will solve the climate challenge? How??

IPCC: We Busted 1.5°, 2° will be Busted 2025

EU climate plansSo IPCC leaked that we busted our fancy climate goals already. As I do not believe that there will be enough change by 2025, looking at the crap our politicians, the industry and impact investors make us believe. Or as I also heard last week: We must stop talk-the-talk and start to walk-the walk!

It goes in line with my images in Bumps on the Road to Sustainability about the fancy idea to place big turbine generators into the Gulf Stream on the coast of Carolina (USA), with reports questioning if the Gulf Stream, so vital for European climate, will make it to Europe by the end of this century. Anyone remembers The Day after Tomorrow? I’m not as much worried about New York under an ice shelf, but what about Northern Europe?

ESG … Believe the Numbers …?

I think this time we got the numbers right ... we just don't know which ones to use.

Countless how often I have heard impact investors disqualifying the ESG goals as 99% #greenwashing. Attempting to establish Kolibri with the commitment to drive true carbon-neutral flying, we sure have all the other SDGs in mind too (there are 17). With mostly quantifiable targets. And beyond (Human Rights as they go beyond SDGs).

But this brings me to those articles about ESGs and green funds and pension funds turning green but investing still large scale in BlackRock (who also has funds for fossils and weapons industry). And to Abdelrahman (Abdo) Wahba’s discussion at GITA I referred to above:

Question The Numbers!

Most of them are just marketing.

Industrial Change

Power from the Plug GreenwashingWhile we see a lot of small investments into “green tech”, most of those don’t qualify for “sustainable investment”, neither “impact investment”. As they add to the energy consumption without much of a plan aside using carbon credits from the real green ones that struggle as they are not on the investor’s radar.

None of the investors – and I’ll be happy to be proven wrong – invests into real climate change and sustainability. The pick the easy-to-achieve raisins. Sustainable needs a holistic view. No raisin picking. Any investment, any business plan not having a document about how they want to address all SDGs, plus diversity, ethnicity, human rights, is #greenwashing.

Go Carbon-Neutral This DecadeTalk- the-Talk or Walk-the-Walk?

Given the example I daily work with: Kolibri. To achieve our goal of carbon-neutral flying, the technology is there. No, it doesn’t need new inventions. Just application of what we have. But the technology is one thing, the energy-conversion from fossil fuels to SynFuel is the real challenge. One we believe can be achieved in 10 years. If we walk-the-walk!

But wait a minute. While I am very sure, this is real impact investing, I was just told by an investor that such long-term does not qualify for ESG! ESG would not be about such future commitments, they require hard goals. Though burning green Synfuel instead more than a billion liters of fossil kerosene in 10 years ain’t a hard goal? Not according to their ESG-#greenwashing-tool…

Long-Term Planning: 2050 and beyond

What about the cargo fleets on the oceans, rivers, in the air and on the road? If ESG doesn’t have a way to set targets and adjust to plans, what is it really good for? Are “data centers” and “digital” part of the solution? Or more part of the problem? Don’t get me wrong, there are good IT projects that will make impact. But most are just more #greenwashing.

IPCC says we busted 1.5°C, also known as the Paris Agreement. We are to bust 2.0°C by 2025. And while aviation accounts for only a fraction of global warming, to change it seems to ambitious for impact investors. And politicians. Better to invest small and manageable and blend out the reality: #cognitivedissonance. Or outright lie.

Norsk e-Fuel a nice example disqualifying the EU’s talks.

Walk-the-Walk or Talk-the-Talk?

Food for Thought!
Comments welcome…

 

Foot Note:
* As FT and Blomberg often requires a subscription to view articles, I have a saved copy of the article on file for friends.

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