If more proof were needed that environmental issues have entered the financial mainstream, look no further than HSBC. The bank plans to grab a slice of the growing market for socially responsible investing with a new fund that will exploit opportunities from climate change. The Climate Change Fund launches in early November, subject to regulatory approval, and will invest in 60 companies likely to benefit most from efforts to curb global warming. The fund’s constituent companies will be selected from HSBC’s Global Climate Change benchmarking index of 300 companies from 34 countries.
Don’t assume that sticking a ‘green’ label on your organisation means automatic success. While HSBC looks set to profit from climate change with its new products, at the other end of the scale the Big Green Gathering is in trouble. BGG is a 5-day camping event for “people who care about health, the environment, sustainability, our children’s future and life in general. It is a celebration of our natural world and our place within it”. Attracting between 15,000 and 20,000 people, BGG developed from the original Green Gatherings of the 1980’s and the Green Fields of Glastonbury Music Festival in response to a desire for a festival that was focused on Green issues.
Sadly, licence conditions imposed by Mendip District Council and Avon & Somerset Police added around £120,000 to the costs of this year’s event, turning an expected profit into a deficit of £75,000. On top of similar deficits in 2005 and 2006 BGG now has debts exceeding its assets by around £150,000, and will have to declare itself bankrupt unless £100,000 can be raised through donations or buying shares in the company.
No licence to print money in Somerset. The Big Green Gathering Co Ltd declares itself to be a “not-for-profit democratic company”, and is obviously living up to that aspiration, while HSBC is very much a for-profit company. Perhaps that explains their different situations. HSBC has been trumpeting its green credentials for years, and growing rich on the back of it. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that perhaps they might forget about profits for a moment and help to keep BGG afloat? Don’t hold your breath.