The day after is now!

The unprecedented crisis we are experiencing is instructive. Collectively, we have agreed to stop the economy, deprive us of our freedom of movement, to reduce (whether we like it or not) our consumption … States, companies, individuals have demonstrated that when life of hundreds of thousands of people is at stake, we are ready for colossal sacrifices.
It would be naïve to think that COVID 19 is the only major threat facing us. Global warming and its consequences are already claiming large numbers of lives each year, and without drastic measures the pace will continue to rise. If confinement has shown how quickly nature is recovering and providing a respite for our planet, it will only be short-lived if the “day after” looks like the “day before”. But there are many reasons to hope …

States have mobilized

Many European countries have mobilized to make the recovery green. One of the three pillars of the recovery plan proposed by the European Commission for 2021-2024 will incorporate the elements of the Green Pact. This is a “virtuous” pact because it will generate growth and jobs. The Commission estimates that meeting the climate targets set for 2030 will boost European GDP by 1% and create the much-needed 1 million jobs in Europe.

Businesses have been exemplary

A large number of companies took action during the crisis, demonstrating in concrete terms what it means to be responsible. Production of masks or hydroalcoholic gel, reduction or cancellation of dividends, waiver of part of the remuneration by managers, spontaneous initiatives have been numerous. In France, companies such as LVMH, L’Oréal, Air Liquide and Somfy have distinguished themselves. Business leaders from all sectors – including La Financière de l’Échiquier – have joined the Green Recovery Alliance, pledging to maintain or intensify their efforts on climate change to prevent the post-coronavirus recovery from occurring to the detriment of the planet.

Shareholders keep up the pressure

Despite the health crisis, responsible investors have remained on track, bolstered by encouraging, if not excellent, relative performances during the market plunge in February / March. They kept up the pressure on companies to take concrete actions in the fight against climate change. A coalition of investors has tabled a resolution in Total’s General Meeting to force the oil giant to set CO2 emissions targets in line with the Paris Agreement targets. La Financière de l’Échiquier supported this resolution and, even though it did not garner enough votes, it was a reminder that responsible investors, whose weight continues to grow in number and managed assets, have ended complacency.

People change their behavior

All of these developments can only be sustainable if individuals – voters, consumers and savers – turn the crisis into an opportunity for lasting change. The urgency of health prompted us almost instinctively to “think as a species”. In The Global Green New Deal, Jeremy Rifkin uses this expression to urge people to jump up their awareness in the fight against climate change … because it is also about the survival of our species. The search for meaning will intensify and will result in changes in consumer habits – more local products, attention paid to supply chains … – but also in investment choices. After a year 2019 in which European investors more than doubled the amounts invested in sustainable funds compared to 2018, the trend continued at the beginning of 2020. So many glimmers of hope that suggest that the day after is well on course to be (a little?) different from the day before.