546. Are E.S.G. Investors Actually Helping the Environment?
Freakonomics Radio
Thu, June 15, 2023
Podchat Summary

Investing in a Greener Future: Engaging with Brown Firms

Welcome to another episode of The Economics of Everyday Things, a podcast that delves into the hidden side of everyday objects and phenomena. In this episode, we explore the world of ESG investing and the effectiveness of divestment strategies in creating a greener future.

ESG investing, which focuses on directing capital away from environmentally harmful "brown" firms towards environmentally friendly "green" firms, has become a dominant strategy. However, our guest argues that this approach may be counterproductive. Instead of simply divesting from brown firms, we should engage with them and encourage them to become greener.

While green firms already prioritize sustainability, brown firms have the greatest potential to change their environmental impact. By providing incentives and support, we can help these companies transition towards greener practices. Our guest highlights the case of CF Industries, the world's largest ammonia producer, which is investing in carbon capture and sequestration to reduce its environmental footprint.

Furthermore, we discuss the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds globally, and its decision to divest from industries and companies with unsustainable business models. While divestment can send a strong message, our guest argues that engaging with these companies and encouraging their transformation is a more effective approach.

The conversation also touches upon the Inflation Reduction Act, a legislative initiative that provides subsidies and tax credits for addressing pollution and climate change. This act has been instrumental in helping companies like CF Industries accelerate their decarbonization efforts.

Despite the significant growth of the ESG investing movement, with trillions of dollars invested, there is a need for more clarity and effectiveness in achieving environmental impact goals. Our guest emphasizes the importance of finding better strategies to make brown firms greener and ensuring that green firms continue to prioritize sustainability.

Tune in to this thought-provoking episode of The Economics of Everyday Things as we explore the complexities of ESG investing and the potential for a greener future.

Original Show Notes

Probably not. The economist Kelly Shue argues that E.S.G. investing just gives more money to firms that are already green while depriving polluting firms of the financing they need to get greener. But she has a solution.

Made with ☕️ in SF/SD.
© 2023 Spyglass Search, Inc.