Andrew Heintzman is CEO and co-founder of Investeco Capital Corp, the first venture capital company in Canada to be exclusively focused on environmental companies and sectors. Andrew sits on the board of a number of companies including Rowe Farms, Vital Farms and Lotek Wireless. Andrew is a director of the Tides Canada Foundation, the Steering Committee of Sustainable Prosperity and is an advisor to the MGA program at the Munk School of Global Affairs.
Andrew has been involved in public policy discussions around clean energy and building a green economy as a member of Ontario’s Clean Energy Task Force and prior to that as the chair of the Premier’s Climate Change Advisory Panel for the Province of Ontario from 2008 to 2012. Andrew is the author of The New Entrepreneurs: Building a Green Economy for the Future, and co-editor of Fueling the Future: How the Battle over Energy is Changing Everything, Feeding the Future: From Fat to Famine, and Food and Fuel: Solutions for the Future.
Andrew has a BA and an MA from McGill University.
Investment decisions are a key factor in the speed at which the world deals with reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Investors can influence the decisions that all corporations make when determining their approach to carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses. But the relationship is not a simple one. There are a variety of options available to investors, and each option comes with its own risk-return analysis both from a financial perspective and from an environmental one. But it is critical that investors know the options that are available to them, and that they think carefully about which option best suits their objectives. My goal in this talk will be to outline some of the various options and the pros and cons of each, and introduce as well a larger framework to consider the question.
I will generally group the options into X different buckets: Divestment, SG&A, Engagement, Active investment. Except for divestment – which I think implies a complete sale of financial assets related to carbon—the other categories are not mutually exclusive; an investor may choose to use these strategies simultaneously on different parts of their portfolio. My goal will be to talk through these options and consider the potential positive and negatives aspects of each.
I will also try to situate this discussion within two broader frameworks. The first framework is that of past examples of social movements that used investment as a tool for change, and here I am referring to everything from the abolition movement, to anti-apartheid movement, to the movement against tobacco. These are all relevant precedents and are worth noting to understand better what has worked in the past and what will work in the future if our goal is to move the world more rapidly towards lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The second broad framework is one of risk. Risk is of course the language of the financial markets, and so it is a critical lens through which to understand greenhouse gas emissions because it is a lens that is comprehensible to all investors (even those who might not care about greenhouse gas emissions in-and-of themselves). There are a variety of profound investment risks that are related to greenhouse gasses. These include risks of increasing public policy responses (including, for example, carbon pricing); risks associated from climate change itself; and risks associated from the public reaction to climate change. Each of these risks requires a separate analysis, because they are derived from totally different factors. But they are also overlapping to some extent as well.
Finally, time permitting, I hope to end by provoking a broader discussion about the role of investment in our lives, a discussion that goes beyond merely climate change to consider broader environmental and social questions. My view is that the idea that investment decisions should be made separately from our broader interests in the rest of our lives is deeply flawed, and that there are powerful personal benefits to reintegrating our investment decisions back into the rest of our lives. These benefits stray outside of the normal lexicon of investment, and have to do with things like empowerment and building meaning in our lives. But they are very real nonetheless, and point to a new frame to understand the investment choices that we make.