In an era where it is increasingly sensible to think about the climatic impact of personal choices, I wonder what the implications are for investing. The whole basis for investment is the idea that someone else can put wealth to more productive immediate use than you can: so much so that you hope they will be able to achieve their productive end and return your money with interest. In a world where most economic activity involves greenhouse gas emissions, it seems inescapable that investing (particularly successful investing) has climatic consequences. That may be especially true for those who think that growth, capitalism, and climate change are deeply linked.
What is unclear is what ethical implications that has. It may well be laudable to choose to invest in things that a low-carbon world will probably involve: renewables, energy efficiency, etc. Indeed, it may be praiseworthy to do so even when that strategy entails lower returns or higher risks than an investment strategy that is indifferent to climatic considerations. Whether it is actually unethical to invest in a neutral or high-carbon way is less clear.
People who are living low-carbon lives by avoiding things like automobile ownership, excessive consumption, and air travel will likely find themselves with more savings to invest than their counterparts who don’t adopt such choices. For someone really dedicated to cutting their personal emissions, it seems plausible that the emissions induced by their investments could be a dominant part of their total footprint. As such, the secondary and tertiary effects of investment choices bear consideration.