Back in the dark days before Blue Planet II and beeswax sandwich wrappers, there was plastic. And diesel cars. And the use of resources – by households, businesses, charities and government – as if we had an infinite supply.
No more. The latest eco-drive has taken hold in middle class heartlands in a way that this time it might just mean widespread, permanent changes to the ways we live and consume are afoot. Not just in the UK but across the world. And financially, the implications are significant.
On a national level, the Paris Climate Accord, which every country in the world except the US has committed to and which aims to limit climate change to an increase of 2C, means CO2 emissions have to fall by 70 per cent by 2050. That means a drop of 85 per cent in CO2 emissions from power production, 73 per cent for buildings, 70 per cent for transport and 56 per cent for industry according to the International Energy Association. And that requires staggering investment in alternative production and new processes.
Down here in everyday life, meanwhile, the plastic bottles containing water from the other side of the world have become passé. Walking along the street with a throwaway coffee cup is now the greatest of social faux pas. Suddenly the light has gone on above our heads and it has cast the sharpest of illuminations on the relationships between and the direct effects of, our lifestyle habits and consuming choices. So far it hasn’t been a pretty picture.
Though the jury still seems out on whether going plastic-free or zero waste or just a bit more re-usable will save us money or cost us more in everyday spending, the possibilities for investors keen to support or cash in on the green machine seem endless. “The rise in popularity in green stocks is part of a wider interest in responsible business. Consumers are increasingly drawn to businesses who demonstrate environmental and social responsibility and this green trend is also being reflected in their investment choices,” says Udit Garg, head of wealth management at Sun Global Investments. “Investors are conscious to seek opportunities in sustainability-oriented and/or fair trade companies and the demand for such conscious investing has risen considerably over the last couple of years.
“Interest in the sector is not just from the investor’s side. With governments including the UK, France and India increasingly pledging to ban the sale of fossil fuel vehicles and single use plastics in the next 25 years, investments in green stocks such as electric cars and alternative plastics make very prudent decisions with those industries set to grow over the next decade, whilst traditional consumables begin to decline.”