ESG professionals: will you be marching this weekend for the People’s Climate Mobilisation?

We have much to contribute to and learn about change from getting more involved in public calls for action.

Dear colleagues/friends in the responsible investment community, September is going to be remarkable. Yes, next week heads of state are going to New York for a historic summit on climate change. But, that’s not what is so interesting: there have been many talkfests on climate. What’s interesting is that this weekend (Sept 20/21) around the world, people are going to make history by sending a really loud and coordinated message that the public wants real action, not words. Thousands of us will be coming together for two days of action on climate: the Peoples Climate Mobilisation. This will build the social networks for an even bigger push focused on the climate negotiations (COP21) in Paris at the end of 2015. If you are already signed up to join, please ignore the rest of this blog! But if you haven’t decided to come yet, and are willing to consider the case for so doing, please read on.
Most of the time, I guess you, like me, think the best way to promote sustainability and long-termism is to focus on your day job. But with evidence that companies are not shifting to a low carbon development path quickly enough, and that investors are not really having impact with companies even on issues which are less contentious, isn’t it time to think afresh about what else we can do as citizens in addition to what we are doing as professionals?A recent opinion poll of ESG professionals highlighted that the number one agent of change is NGOs and that NGO divestment campaigns, whether or not they have a positive impact on divestment, do create space for investor action (see slide 16).
We ESG professionals are used to going to important meetings and glitzy events. Marching doesn’t mean we should stop that, and even less, stop being sustainable investment specialists. But the question remains: do we really engage with the necessary social change? I believe we need to get much closer to the customers/citizens who are really concerned about climate change, and support what’s required for real action. We all have much to learn about how this can be acheieved. A prominent academic has done an excellent analysis about how climate change denial is created socially. It’s not that the public don’t know and don’t care, it’s that they are blocked by implicatory denial
And, of course, we are all implicated! So this – and knowing that Jeremy Grantham, the renowned investor, earlier this year marched against the Keystone pipeline in the US/Canada – have convinced me to join the march in London. I hope you will too in your city! Here’s the link to get involved:

Raj Thamotheram is an Independent Strategic Adviser and CEO of Preventable Surprises
PS: If you are in London, Jennifer Morgan and Richard Spencer are meeting at 12:15pm at Embankment Gardens for an interfaith gathering beforehand. And I’m meeting students from the Push Your Parents campaign at MacAdam Building, King’s College also at 12.15pm. Please feel free to join!