35th year, issue #86
november 2021
the cop26 edition
australian journalists


No other story matters more

Climate change is an economic story, a health story, a tech story, a business story, a food and wine story, a community story… In short, it touches every beat in the newsroom and every aspect of Australian life.

Can you think of any story more newsworthy than the destruction of the planet on which our survival depends? The plot of this story is, “unless we fundamentally alter our way of life, we will all die?”

No story matters more to the world than the climate change crisis. It’s a story that demands action but is met with inertia. It’s a story that cries for hope but generates despair. It’s a story that too often lives outside the hard news, hidden away from the front pages.

In November, the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow at COP26. It’s been billed as our ‘last best chance’ for humanity to get climate right.

And so, just as the smartest minds in science have provided the clearest picture yet of the effect of human activities on climate, we need the best minds in media to give sustained attention to telling this most important story.

Because right now, no other story matters more.

It’s time to change
the narrative

It’s time to rebalance the climate narrative with stories that not only help people understand the problem but more importantly the solutions. It’s time to embed solutions as a critical part of a new climate story.

As our storytellers, the media needs to adapt its role as guardians of the truth to embrace being agents of change.

The IPCC’s latest report (August 2021) reiterates what we’ve known for more than a decade: the planet is overheating, human activities are the main driver, and it’s going to get worse. This report is likely to frame the debate at COP26. It’s a debate that will have implications for every being on Earth.

And yet, how we talk about climate change is stuck, stubbornly sitting somewhere between science and platitude, black and white, believer and denier.

It’s time to rewrite that old story.

Cover the

During a natural disaster, the media doesn’t just report on the disaster but also provides instructions on how people can keep themselves safe, what they should do and where they can find help.

And yet when it comes to climate, this doesn’t happen. Coverage compounds existing despair and inaction and leaves people feeling powerless, fatigued and hopeless. In his recent book, respected climate scientist Michael Mann says climate defeatism or doomism poses a greater threat to climate action than outright denial.

Science does give us terrifying news of what’s at stake but the solutions, the policies, and the innovation have never moved so fast.

Technological, economic and social barriers that seemed insurmountable have been crossed causing a seismic shift both in terms of progress and consumer appetite. The falling costs of renewable power, the proliferation of electric vehicles and the boom in ethical investing are just the start. Of course, we can’t see exactly what the end of our transformation looks like, but we can transform climate coverage.

Curated for you

We understand the power of information, the seduction of a statistic and the frisson of a factoid. So we’ve pulled together, some insightful links, some searing tips from Dr Rebecca Huntley on how to write about climate change and our own version of what will be the most overused pun this November ‘good COP, bad COP’.

yes please

The power of money

Money talks. Money makes the world go round. Money can’t buy you love. Money does lots of things but one thing philosophers, poets and economists can all agree on is that money has power. Some might even say money is power.

It’s a truism. Money is power and in this crisis for humanity, the way we use money is one of the most effective ways we can drive the change we need. From our spending choices to our investment choices, our green bags to our nest eggs, money is the path to change.

COP26 understands this. It’s why they’re not calling for small change, but for systemic change. A change where the whole financial system pivots, where unfettered capitalism is no longer an aspiration, where government funding and private investment move away from dead and dying industries to the ones that will survive, sustain and thrive.
Australia’s $3 trillion of super¹, if invested ethically, could achieve a lower footprint of
~78 million tonnes
of CO₂e per year, or the equivalent of ²
4.6 million
avg. AU households
16.9 million
cars on the road
1 million
tankers of petrol
Every working adult in Australia could start today – just look how much money we’ve got stashed away in super. $3 trillion AUD. In GDP terms that's almost as much as India, the UK and France and more than Spain, Italy and Canada (2020)³.

We have the power of change in our payslips.
1. From ASFA, June 2021
2. To reach these figures, Australian Ethical calculated the difference between the carbon footprint of investment in the MSCI World Index and the MSCI World Climate Paris Aligned Benchmark Select Index. It’s important to note that while ceasing to invest in carbon-intensive companies does not actually stop the emissions produced by those companies overnight, large-scale selling of shares in these companies sends a strong public signal and makes it far harder for them to raise new money. This could quickly drive a positive change in the behaviour of these companies, or even render them unviable.
3. IMF World Economic Outlook Database, 2020

Open your eyes

In 2021, we launched Open Your Eyes, asking our customers to tell us what it was that opened their eyes to ethical investing. We were blown away by the passion, humour and gravity of the answers they gave us. But mostly, it was their willingness to take action that really stood out.

We then asked them to help us open more eyes to creating a better future through ethical investing. Over 1,200 like-minded individuals responded to our request knowing that the more people invest ethically, the greater the impact on our planet. And by doing so, they also told us about the issues they’re most passionate about.

open my eyes

What issues are you most passionate about?

quotes from ae customers
“The realisation that I can't wait for governments or other people to make changes to impact the environment. The only thing I can do is make changes to my own life to ensure I am being part of the solution rather than continuing to be a part of the problem.”
“Learning that the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint was a simple account change. It somewhat seemed easier than watching what you eat and how you recycle.”
“Talk means nothing. Putting your money where your mouth is forces the establishment to take notice. Market forces will prevail.”
“The realisation that we cannot rely on governments to do the "right" thing. I decided that if individuals act alone then together we can make a difference.”
“I'm a scuba diver and some of my greatest moments of joy have been surrounded by profound natural beauty. We have wilfully destroyed the Great Barrier Reef and left a legacy of bleached, dead coral covered in bacteria. I cannot, will not, waste an avenue for action.”
“When I realised that my vote isn’t the only way I can make a positive impact on future change.”
“The realisation that change is in our own hands and that consumer choice is a powerful tool. We don't have to wait for a paralysed government to act on climate. Collective action is powerful.”
“Sometimes as an individual we can feel powerless in the face of the ongoing climate catastrophe. However, we can make sure that every action we take has a positive impact, and that includes knowing where our money is being invested.”

Australian Ethical

Australian Ethical was founded on one simple insight: that the power of financial markets could be harnessed to bring about social change.

That was 35 years ago, but it has been our north star ever since.

What our founders knew then - and what people are belatedly realising now - is that a society that allocates resources purely to generate short-term profit is untenable. And so, in 1986 they planted a stake in the ground to help divert capital towards long-term returns through ethical investing.  

They created our Ethical Charter to guide their investment decisions, seeking to allocate investors’ capital to companies doing good and avoiding companies doing harm. Like a compass, the Ethical Charter directed them to the exact point where making money and making the world a better place overlapped.

It’s an approach we’ve been refining ever since. Today, we’re world leaders in ethical investing and creating a virtuous cycle where profit and purpose combine to deliver significant financial returns while changing the world for the better.
Get in touch
If you want to talk, share or just need more information please email Camilla Herring, passionate believer in the planet and fortunate enough to work somewhere that can be part of the solution.