Instant Karma Newsletter 7.23.20
  • Financial institutions are pitching their eco-credentials as the coronavirus subsides. Clean energy commitments will matter most.

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When a financial product claims to be green, what does this mean? When does green become greenwashing? As corporate climate initiatives re-emerge from the COVID chaos, financial institutions will be pitching their eco-credentials. But there’s really only one metric that matters: whether they invest their deposits in fossil fuels and other pollutants, or in clean energy. A quick Google search can give you this information for your specific bank, as can the annual Banking on Climate Change list put out each spring by a coalition of environmental groups. 

Here’s what’s not a green financial product: donating a percentage of the bank’s transactions. Donations are great, of course. But a bank that makes donations to fight climate change while continuing to invest in fossil fuels is not the right bank for a savvy green consumer. Fortunately, a recent financial product to offer a donation — in this case, a checking account from BNP Paribas’ Bank of the West that donates 1% of revenue to climate nonprofits — is also divested from major pollutants, despite the pushback received from its 2018 announcement. 

In Other News

Gender lens investing is using the pandemic lull to focus more on women of color. Omidyar India’s Roopa Kudva discusses impact investing exits pre- and post-COVID. The origin story of America’s racial wealth gap is long and painful — but important to know. Impact investors in Australia are funding a pioneering approach to living with dementia. Does Brazil’s eco-mess mean capital markets need sustainability pledges to de-risk their impact investments? Though it would be easier for this writer if they were, ESG, SRI, and impact investing are unfortunately not exactly the same thing

Levity Break

This tourist parody video is begging for a COVID-era remake.