A good chunk of this week for me was devoted to figuring out my role in my “on-site” placement. The department of sustainable finance has recently been quite swamped. Its members are beginning to form a new subsidiary company under ING devoted to promoting sustainable investments to large clients. One interesting disparity did come up in these conversations, however, and I think it reflects upon the reasons I am conducting this project in the way I am.
ING is a Dutch Bank, with headquarters in Amsterdam. They have no official branches in America—though they do provide loan, bond, and equity advice to larger clients, like other financial institutions. Essentially, all the statutes and policies surrounding green legislation are based on Dutch/European principles. In Europe, there is a great desire to fight climate change simply because it will detract from society as a whole. This desire has lead to advanced legislation regulating corporations and defined principles of what constitutes a green investment. America is far more individualistic (not a negative trait in my opinion), and we focus on tangible economic growth. This difference puts ING in a strange position: a Dutch bank, with a value system based partially on goodness to society, functioning in a society focused on individual gains. To us, in fact, their ideas will seem naive. Few in America would think that companies would willingly reduce carbon emissions just because it’s bad for society, yet that’s likely in the Netherlands. It is purely for this reason I think my project is important— to bridge the gap between companies and people purely focused on profits and environmental benefit to society at large.
Research in the Coming Weeks
The next few weeks will be focused on gathering a list of sectors of the economy that promote environmental benefit and economic growth, as well as the offshoot markets. These offshoots constitute sectors necessary to grow the main environmental sectors; examples of these technologies could be charging stations for electric cars or battery technology for renewable energy. After that, I will focus on determining which of these are suitable green investments.