How investors can make their portfolio sustainable

Mr Thomä, you are currently at the climate conference in Glasgow. What role does the financial market play in the discussions about climate protection?

There was greater optimism in Paris. The climate conference in Glasgow is not a failed summit. But the best that we are currently getting is just not good enough. That being said, the financial sector is an absolute hot topic here. You can tell, for example, that the Prime Minister of Barbados calls financial institutions and central banks by name. The private sector plays a major role in combating climate change.

What exactly is the financial sector doing?

Almost every day there are new trillion commitments for the environment or new climate alliances are announced.

Is that just lip service?

It is a matter of a certain actionism or event fetishism. There are clear voices who consider this to be greenwashing. But it is impressive how institutions are mobilizing to make their portfolios climate-neutral. Clear positions were taken in Glasgow. It’s no more like a few years ago, when there were just a few lost ESG analysts attending such conferences.

And what role do private investors play in the debate? Can they do anything at all in combating climate change? The bulk of the capital flows are ultimately directed by the large institutional investors.

If I don’t buy meat in the supermarket in Berlin, I won’t prevent less minced meat from being produced. The same applies to consumption and investment. What will several hundred euros bring me in a 200 trillion market? But it’s also about taking an active role. For example, small investors can change their shareholder behavior if they vote for climate resolutions in companies.

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What should investors look out for when trying to make their portfolio sustainable?

There is no such thing as sustainability. It’s just an umbrella term. It’s like saying I want to be a good person. First you have to ask yourself what is important to you. Is it climate protection, is it employee rights, gender issues, animals or pandas? Climate-friendly companies often belong to sectors with a high level of dependency on heavy metals, where there are employee problems. Here, too, you have to weigh up. There are also many investors with religious motives, such as excluding alcohol from their portfolios. Others say they would rather be actively involved in climate protection. So you have to answer for yourself what the topics are that you want to push forward.

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