After almost two weeks in the Bella Center for the Copenhagen Climate Conference, money is still one of the main issues. The lack of financial aid for poorer countries is being addressed, but slowly and in parts.
From the perspective of an investor, there has been some interesting ideas floating around though.
A couple of days ago, your author sat in on a side event arranged by the Club de Madrid. As ever, the CdM had a number of high-profile and interesting speakers and guests, including the former President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos.
This session contained the usual smattering of former Presidents and Prime Ministers, but also included an address from Tracy Wolstencroft from Goldman Sachs.
If you want to hear interesting things about markets, listen to the guy from Goldman Sachs!
The overall message from the session was that the Copenhagen process is focusing on public money, but the sums required are so huge that hundreds of billions of dollars of private money will be required as well. It isn’t all required tomorrow, but much of it will be required in the coming three to five years or so.
Mr Wolstencroft suggests that the sums required to avert a global climate disaster are so large that they will essentially become the world’s largest ever emerging market. You hadn’t thought of it like that, had you?
Having seen a report a few months ago from the European Climate Foundation called Project Catalyst, it is reasonable to suggest that the coming ‘green’ energy gap is enormous and will take monster amounts of private investment to fill.
But this energy gap is only for energy production. The total numbers include emissions reductions and technology (known as clean tech), upgrading the insulation (for energy efficiency) of public and private buildings and the entire housing stock of the world and much more.
However, the point being made was that this investment will need to be global, simply doing this in the developed world will not be sufficient. But, for developed world investors, much of the developing world is an investment no-go area. Without vastly improved legal protection of property rights, transparency and clear governmental policy making, this is unlikely to change. This suggests that new democratic policies are required in many nations to enable the capital to flow.
As was pointed out - and every investor knows - “capital wants to find a way to invest”.
So here is the point: can you, as a private investor, find a way to invest in this emerging market, make a profit and be doing good for society and humanity?