Guest blog: Inspired or Confused - Larry Fink's Annual Letter


Guest blog: by Mark D Wolf: Mark is a sustainability consultant, sustainability career coach and executive coach who works with leaders to integrate sustainability into business strategy, operations, and culture. He is also the Founder & Co-Lead of the NYC Chapter of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), the largest global professional association for leaders across the sustainability sector. He recently co-authored Thriving in the New Business Environment, Why Supply Chain Matters and has been published in the Journal of Sustainable Banking and Finance.

Last time I wrote about my 22 sustainability predictions for 2022. Today I will share my thinking about recent events that have me both inspired and confused on the response to ‘code red’ alarm sounded in the most recent IPCC report.

I am thinking about COP26 Glasgow, Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOs and GreenBiz’s State of Green Business 2022
 
First, the inspiration - - 

  • The amount of action around deforestation coming out of COP26 was both welcome and surprising (surprising because of the 500+ fossil fuel representatives who were credentialed by their home countries to attend)
  • Larry Fink's statement that, “decarbonizing of the global economy is going to create the greatest investment opportunity of our lifetime,” gives me hope that real change and action are going to become aligned with investments
  • GreenBiz State of Green Business 2022 highlighted that, “the fastest growing green skills are in ecosystem management, environmental policy, and sustainable procurement.” These are future forward developments in the hard, day-to-day work of sustainability.

The confusion - - 

  • COP26 was a disappointment in that coordinated actions were not visibly strong. In fact, Felix Dodds redefined the term ‘coalition of the willing’ to talk about the partnerships that will carry the much of the load in the absence of government commitments. I think that corporates and NGOs will not get us where we need to go without coordinated, aligned, and funded government action.
  • Larry Fink’s letter also indicated that Blackrock would support fossil fuel investments as a bridge to a renewable energy future, an area where we need to accelerate while decelerating fossil fuels.
  • Finally, in the GreenBiz report - - while we had a temporary reprieve from carbon emission growth in 2020, they “resumed their relentless climb in 2021, faster than many scientists predicted.”

This is the duality of inspiration and confusion personally, around sustainability today.
 
Maintaining the optimism that is key to move toward a net zero carbon economy is never easy. Inspiration is critical, setbacks and roadblocks are to be expected. 

One of the ways I fuel my optimism is to help experienced professionals pivot into a sustainability career where they can use their skills and wisdom to accelerate solutions for climate change. I will be talking about this topic on a webinar next Tuesday, February 1st for Hugo Neu Corporation Sustainability Seminar Series hosted by the Stevens Institute of Technology. It is open to the pubic, at no charge. Learn more here.

What you do to maintain your optimism on the journey to a net zero carbon economy in the comment section? 

Mark will be speaking at Hugo Neu Corporation Sustainability Seminar Series: Position Your Sustainability Career | Stevens Institute of Technology on Tuesday February 1st registration here. 

Join live event Abstract This webinar will share the good, the bad and the not so pretty about becoming a sustainability professional through pivoting into sustainability based on work and educational experience. 

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