Investing

Why the spurt in climate protests is happening, and will it help or hurt?

In today’s issue:

— Will the spurt in dramatic climate protests derail global progress or restart it?
— Rishi Sunak is no Boris Johnson. Can he revive Britain’s climate efforts?
— As oil majors look at renewable energy, one form of it looks increasingly attractive
— New supply chain hurdle: lack of transformers threatens U.S. grid
— EPA about to become world’s biggest climate bank

Climate protests are back, and more dramatic, making even the most enthusiastic ESG supporters nervous. Attacks on paintings in the UK and Germany, the spraying of orange paint on Harrods in London, and the smearing of chocolate cake on the wax figure of King Charles III at Madame Tussauds recently are sweeping the headlines.

Protesters are daring critics to argue that pieces of art are more important than the loss of the planet. Critics argue that these types of stunts risk public support at a time when it is more needed than ever.

And there’s the rub. The timing is no coincidence. The world has been backsliding on global warming almost since last year’s COP26 in Glasgow. Certainly, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Next month’s COP27 is expected to be an abject failure, with poor attendance and little chance of a climate funding deal. The idea of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is under attack in the U.S. and elsewhere. The world is pumping more oil than ever before.

Protesters, the young, are standing up and holding our feet to the fire. If we won’t notice when reports say 70% of global species are set to be wiped out by 2050, then maybe some mashed potatoes on your Monet will get your attention. The climate crisis is going to cost so much that people can’t get their heads around it. Bringing the impact down to a single valuable object helps focus minds.

We can expect more of these in coming days and weeks, and they will be more dramatic, especially during the Egypt summit in two weeks. When there is no momentum, the extremists step up.

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