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Banks must speak clearly on sustainability

Firms are funding social and environmental projects on the one hand and fossil fuels on the other – it’s time to show they care.


“This world’s a fiction and made up of contradiction,” said poet William Blake. He could have been describing the world of social and environmental finance recently. 

The first contradiction concerns Bill McGlashan, managing partner of the TPG Rise Fund, which focuses on raising money (some $2 billion for the first fund) for impact investing and which counts U2’s Bono among its high-profile investors. 

McGlashan was charged in connection with a very public US college admissions scandal – a Federal case that charges several parents among the corporate and Hollywood elite in an alleged $25 million scam to help their children get into top universities. The US press has had a field-day pointing out the hypocrisy of preaching impact investing while using one’s wealth to gain access to Ivy League universities. 

The second contradiction, involving Norway, is more positive but a contradiction nonetheless. In March the country’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund announced it would be divesting from 150 oil and gas companies, selling about $7.5 billion in stocks. This is the fund that built up its vast wealth over two decades from oil and gas revenue. 

By the by, Norway also uses large chunks of income from its offshore fields each year to pay for its generous welfare state.

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