The ageing capitalist naysayers may say nay when it comes to prioritising Environmental, Social and Governance principles, but no one’s listening to them anymore.

According to one crusty old bloke who frequented a crusty old bloke’s bar that recently closed its doors permanently, ESG advocates were just a bunch of “tree hugging, women’s libber, do-gooder lefties who’ll be the first to complain when they have no coal to heat their homes in the dark of winter.”

After we’d explained that we live in Australia and no one has coal heaters in their homes here, we went on to highlight the fact that the very foundations of ESG were all about the economics. The whole notion was first raised in the 2006 United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Investment report. See that “investment” word in the title?

Old Crusty gave us a disdainful snort, knocked back his over-priced single malt and tottered off home to watch his irresponsible investment portfolio retreat further into the red while we turned our attention to the current state of ESG.

We left the old bloke’s bar just before the landlord hung the “permanently closed” sign on the door and headed for the plant-based burger joint where we ordered ethically sourced coffee in our sustainable keep cups and got chatting to the Gen Ys and Millennials about where they chose to put their investment dollars.

It wasn’t just the café chatter that led us to understand they’re the ones driving a surge in responsible investment. Studies from the likes of PwC and Stanford University have shown there’s an age thing involved, as KATHY SKANTZOS reports in her deep dive into investment preferences.

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While that was happening, a few world leaders – or more to the point some of their less-important delegates – went off to COP27 in Egypt.

“Cop-what?”

You’re right to ask because we had to look it up too.

Last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow started and ended with a bang and was a drawcard for everyone from our newly-crowned monarch to the real people’s king, Sir David Attenborough.

But this year’s event, like a failed firework, did little more than start with a vague pop then fizzle out to nothing.

We almost stuck The Yield’s roving reporter JOSH LEWIS on a plane to attend what should have been a total hoot with all those partial promises from Glasgow being put into action.

But given the recent dip in the economy and profit-gouging increase in airfares, we decided to save our pennies, save our reporter from the inevitable Cairo smog and get him to dissect the conference from afar. We’re glad because there wasn’t a lot to dissect, and nothing appears to have been put into action except for a plan to create a plan to put something in action at some point in the future.

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Despite the lack of commitments coming from the world leaders’ underlings at COP-what, we can take comfort in the fact that a lot of businesses know the value of ticking the E box in the ESG equation.

We’ve talked about green cement and concrete in previous issues of The Yield because we love an environmentally sound construction material. We even thought of building The Yield’s new multi-storey HQ tower from hemp and haybales but had to put those plans on moth-friendly mothballs due to a lack of hay-savvy tradies. But I digress.

There are various angles being taken in the pursuit of decarbonising the cement manufacturing process. One angle is to do fancy things with kaolin, a type of clay that our mates at Suvo Strategic Minerals know all about. We pointed our camera at Executive Chairman Henk Ludik to find out how his clay can be moulded into a workable solution.

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There’s obviously a lot of demand for coverage in The Yield. We had Sir Richard Branson on the phone recently asking if we could give some of his Virgin Group companies a plug, but we told him it was a firm no until he dropped the price of airfares to a more reasonable level.

In fact, it was the housebound roving reporter that took the call and told Sir Dicky to go Necker himself because he was still bitter about the cancelled trip to Egypt. It was a sure sign of our influence and Branno’s eagerness for some coverage that Virgin Australia released a handful of Black Friday special fares this week. Not to Egypt though, so still no deal on the broader Virgin Group coverage. Plus, his planes and cruise ships are not exactly climate friendly. But that’s more digression.

The point is that while we might be in demand, we love nothing more than revisiting some of the stories we’ve broken in the past. With that in mind and following up from the last chat two whole years ago,  SIMON SHEPHERDSON knocked on Neometals’ sustainable door to get an update on the company’s “urban mining” initiatives. They range from a lithium-ion battery recycling plant that’s up and running in Germany to a vanadium recovery project in Finland, among various other very ESG-esque Neometals pursuits.

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So there you have it – that’s the rap on our latest ESG-focused issue of The Yield (and a few added digressions for your reading pleasure).

Until next time, happy reading!

Ed