Escalating the pressure: ESG investors move from talk to action
War in Europe has completely upended the narrative around energy transition. Corporates and their banks are now engaged in a more complex conversation around the production – and financing – of oil and gas to replace Russian supplies. This could translate into more aggressive shareholder action as ESG investors fight to keep their near-term green agenda on track.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine may achieve what years of global agreements, protests and investor engagement have not been able to – to turn Europe away from fossil fuels and exponentially ramp up investment in renewable energy.
“I believe at the European level it will increase the pace of investment to renewables to be less dependent on Russian gas,” says Francois Humbert, active ownership lead manager at Generali Insurance AM.
Despite concerns that short-term fixes to reduce dependency on Russian gas include increases in fossil fuel production elsewhere, the medium- to long-term direction is firmly towards renewables. The European Commission has proposed a plan to make the European Union independent from Russian fossil fuels – now 40% of its gas, 27% of its oil and 46% of coal – by 2030 with a series of measures including more funds for renewable energy. It is left to individual countries to determine how; and by mid March Germany had already announced an additional €200 billion of investment into renewable energy by 2026.