I am computer-literate-ish. I mastered the power button long ago, I can handle the basics of both Windows 10 and Mac OS X, and I know how to set a home page on multiple different web browsers. If you ask more of me though, I am likely to disappoint you greatly.
Which is why I’m glad to be part of a team. Valerie Bennett not only handles our Foundation’s communications, but she manages our website as well. When I send her this blog each week, it’s in a Word document, and she works her magic to get it up on our site. She also periodically pulls and sends to me analytics on how well each blog does in terms of reach and readership.
But remember, I’m only computer-literate-ish, so when I see data on clicks and impressions and what-not, I’m still generally clueless. That’s why I love it when people send me a note telling me that they read and enjoyed a particular post. I received one of those notes recently.
After I wrote about Xcel Energy’s carbon-free energy commitment, Mariel Cabral at Ceres wrote to me saying, “We helped with that!” I’m a huge fan of Ceres’s work in general, but I had no idea they played a role in Xcel taking the pledge. It was a great note to get.
For nearly 30 years, Ceres has been working with businesses and investors to advance the shift toward a sustainable economy. That’s exactly what they did in this case, just with a heavy dosage of ninja stealth (i.e. they were working behind the scenes).
Ceres is a partner in coordinating the Climate Action 100+, an investor led initiative to pressure companies with high greenhouse gas emissions to take action on global warming. Their theory is that if you can get over 300 investors with more than $32 trillion under management (and counting!) to rattle the corporate cage, then big businesses will respond.
Now to be clear, engagement like this doesn’t have to be contentious. In December of last year, the Climate Action 100+ jointly announced with Royal Dutch Shell various climate commitments as a result of their collaboration. It was largely the same with Xcel Energy. Investors spoke, and these fossil fuel companies listened.
My takeaway is that capital markets function largely like product markets. The more that consumers demand environmentally friendly products, the more that suppliers will prioritize making those products. Just so, the more that investors demand climate action from companies competing for their investment dollars, the more those companies will prioritize climate action.