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On the ground in NYC How climate change is forcing a new type of financial literacy

Listen: On the ground in NYC How climate change is forcing a new type of financial literacy

Corporates, financial institutions, investors and academics gathered in New York City on May 17 for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit to discuss topics such as net zero, the energy transition and ESG data challenges.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we bring you highlights from the panel discussions as well as interviews on the sidelines of the event.

We hear from Emily Chew, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Calvert Research and Management, one of the largest responsible investment companies in the U.S. Emily talks about the intense level of engagement and coordination that climate change requires of companies.

"Every organization needs this multi-stakeholder, multi-pronged approach," she says. "It really stretches us into this new ... type of financial literacy that pertains to climate."

We also hear from the largest bank in the U.S. Rama Variankaval, Global Head of the Center for Carbon Transition at JPMorgan Chase and Co., talks about the challenge of putting climate targets into practice.

"We published a target and that's when the real work started,” Rama says. “It's easy enough to put a glossy 20 pages with numbers on it and pretty pictures of trees, etc. But then you have to go and say: Ok, what do you do with this?"

We also sit down on the sidelines of the event with Josh Green, Co-Founder and COO of technology platform Novata, to talk about the role of private equity markets in ESG. “If all the public companies in the world are fantastic in reducing their carbon emissions but private companies keep doing business as usual, we are not going to solve our climate problem," he says.

And we talk with Simran Heer, Program Manager at Microsoft, who explains how the company uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to tackle sustainability issues.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

Photo credit: Getty Images

Transcript provided by Kensho.  

Lindsey Hall: Hi, I'm Lindsey Hall, Head of thought leadership at S&P Global Sustainable1.

Esther Whieldon: And I'm Esther Whieldon, a senior writer on the Sustainable1 thought leadership team. 

Lindsey Hall: Welcome to ESG Insider, a podcast hosted by S&P Global, where we explore  environmental, social and governance issues that are shaping investor activity and company strategy.  

Metro sound: "Stand clear of the closing doors, please". 

Esther Whieldon: The sound you just heard was New York City subway system. And in today's episode,  I'm taking you on the ground for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit in New York. At that event, on May  17, nearly 200 corporates, investors, analysts and academics meant to talk about sustainability themes  such as net-zero, the energy transition and ESG data challenges. 

Lindsey Hall: And this was the second in a series of three summits that Sustainable1 is hosting. In last  week's episode of this podcast, we recapped themes and key interviews from the May 10 Sustainable1  Summit in Paris, and the next one is in Sydney, Australia on June 9. So, Esther, can you tell us what did  you hear on the ground in New York? 

Esther Whieldon: Similar to the Paris Summit, net-zero was a big topic in New York. I heard a number of  discussions about the challenges of establishing climate targets of implementing them and how better  data is needed to both model and track those targets. One of the panelists at the event was from the  largest bank in the U.S., that's JPMorgan. In May 2021, the company set new climate financing targets for  lowering the emissions intensity of the oil and gas, power, and utilities and auto sectors it serves. 

Here is Rama Variankaval, Global Head of the center for carbon transition at JPMorgan talking about this  challenge. 

Rama Variankaval: Again, our approach all along has been that we want to engage with our clients. The  #1 criticism we get, I'm sure a number of you will -- this will resonate is -- when we picked our metric to  come up with targets, we pick carbon intensity. And I would say that I don't know that I anticipated that  would be the lightning rod of criticism, but it has been the lightning rod of criticism, choice of intensity  versus absolute emissions. 

And the reality is to take an intensity-based target and to force change is much harder actually than  absolute emissions. If you can think about the absolute emissions of all the individual clients in the ...  sector or JPMorgan portfolio as a proxy for the sector, we have clients with large numbers, and we have  clients with small numbers. It's very dispersed? 

The absolute emissions associated with clients. And so if I say I want to cut it by X percent, it comes  down to which 3, 5, 10 clients, I can de-bank? And then I can hit my target? Sure, that's 3, 5 or 10 difficult  conversations, but that's 3, 5 or 10 difficult conversations, that's it. 

If I look at the intensity distribution of all the clients in the sector or in our portfolio, it is very tightly packed.  There's just not any dispersion. There is no 3, 5 or 10 clients I can de-bank and say that I've achieved my  target. They don't move the needle. 

The only way I can actually move the needle is for the clients to change their business model and their  behavior for their intensity to go down for that to be reflected back on the JPMorgan portfolio. It's maybe  to subtle a point for -- definitely for the activists who are protesting again outside JPMorgan today. But  that's a reality. And our clients understand it. I mean, perversely, our clients would prefer us to just pick  absolute emissions in oil and gas, have a few difficult conversations move on with life. 

So we have picked a very consciously more difficult target because we think that's what actually drives a  real change when an oil and gas company reduces its intensity that needs you to just actually change  business model. That's the only way to do it, go become an energy company, build your renewable asset  base, go do carbon capture, et cetera. So that's where we spend a lot of time in the oil and gas sector? 

Esther Whieldon: Now that JPMorgan has set a target. Rama said, the next big challenge has been  ensuring it is actually being implemented by all employees.

Rama Variankaval: We published a target and that's when the real work started. So it's easy enough to  put a glossy 20-pager with numbers on it and some pretty pictures of trees, et cetera. But then you had to  go and say, okay, what do we do with this? We are a $3 trillion balance sheet, 250,000 employee bank  across the globe. How do we take these frameworks that we have developed and targets we have  developed and actually make it part of the day-to-day decision-making. So that took us another six  months coming up with the methodology to operationalize our targets. 

So the next time a client comes in, in one of these sectors to JPMorgan and says they want to renew the  revolver or they want to have JPMorgan book run their next debt capital markets deal, how do we react?  It's already a pretty multidimensional decision-making process. What is the credit like? What is  profitability? What's the wallet? Is the reputational issues involved. There are lots of voices and metrics  that we use to make decisions as it is. And then we had to kind of overlay this new metric, new target on  top of all of that. And then embedded across the organization, again, we have clients not just an  investment bank. 

In these sectors, we have clients in the commercial bank, which is a pretty large organization. And then  we have a number of balance sheet committees and commitment committees and so on and so forth.  How do you kind of take this and push it down the pipes of JPMorgan was, I would say, the hardest  battle. It's still not perfect. Because again, data is not perfect, the understanding of where we are going,  candidly, it's not perfect, even within the organization. And then lots of clients don't understand what we  are doing. 

So there is a lot of kind of education that's ongoing to make sure people are all on the same page. They  understand why we are doing, what we are doing. How does this new factor interplay with all the existing  factors, how do you make rational decision-making, Well, we have committed to take our bank to net zero. We have not committed to lose money doing it. So we want to make money. 

So how do you rationally kind of do these things is a pretty complex multidimensional problem that we  have spent a fair amount of time. I think all of last year, we are in an okay place now. But since then, we  have also joined the NZBA, the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, which means many things. We have to now  put targets on other sectors but also have to rethink how do we think about baselining, how do we think  about the right sectors, right targets, right approach. So again, all of that is work in progress as we sit  here. 

Esther Whieldon: What stood out to me in New York was the big focus on data and modeling challenges  as well as setting, implementing and measuring progress on climate targets. It seems one big task in  determining the right path forward is figuring out how corporations can translate climate science into  tangible action. For example, what do companies do with scenarios used in reports from the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

Emily Chew, Executive Vice President and Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Calvert Research and  Management, was on a panel with Rama from JPMorgan. With $37.7 billion worth of assets under  management, Calvert is one of the largest responsible investment companies in the U.S. It is also part of  Morgan Stanley Investment Management, the Asset Management division of Morgan Stanley. 

Emily talked about how applying these climate scenarios becomes more challenging as real-world events  unfold. One big part of the problem is figuring out what data do you use, here she is. 

Emily Chew: So some of the issues we found with the data were that, obviously, some carbon emissions  or GHG emissions equivalent of disclosure is more ubiquitous than any other ESG data point. 

Even the company-disclosed data is problematic. And that's again another reason why we're supportive  of a more mandated disclosure framework for this type of data because using data science techniques,  so looking at patterns of disclosure over time, looking at -- and this is through the Carbon Disclosure  Project database also. You can see that the different fields of data don't necessarily add up for particular  companies. 

So it suggests in maybe a number of cases that there isn't sufficient internal controls or auditing around  that data or assurance work or cross checking, and you'll see that for a company even year-on-year. Like  the number just changes or it added up one year and it didn't add up the next year. Maybe it's the 

summer intern working on it, like so we have some concerns around kind of lack of corporate controls  over the data. 

But in a very small number of cases, we actually are perhaps concerned, and it hasn't been verified yet,  but we see the pattern in the data that there may be a number -- a small number of companies that are  actually obfuscating how much carbon they are emitting into the atmosphere. 

So this is all issues with the data. And we struggle with that because we are committed to setting a target,  and we don't have solid tools with which to really measure against that target. What we're grappling with  is developing a capability to develop our own scenarios because you've got the net zero scenarios that  come out of the science of the IPCC report, but that's not necessarily what's actually going to happen in  the market. 

And that is really the gap that you have to grapple with as an asset manager, which is that, well, here's  the theoretical, what we would -- if we had a managed transition and it would be a nice linear kind of  reduction of carbon year-on-year, what's actually happening is a spike in oil prices and a shift back  towards traditional energy, at least for the next maybe 12 months. 

We're not seeing deep investment from large oil and gas majors in the building up of that infrastructure.  So how long oil -- is the oil supply going to remain kind of constrained and those prices remain high? How  quickly will Europe's ramped up renewable energy targets actually energy -- renewable energy generation  targets actually be able to be implemented? 

So all of these variables, which are interconnected is very extremely difficult to model and us as well as  many other players in the industry, constituents are trying to develop a new language and a new  methodology for being able to model some of these complex interconnected scenarios. 

Esther Whieldon: Later on in that same panel, Emily mentioned something that ended up being a theme  I heard throughout the day. She noted how climate change is requiring a new kind of financial literacy for  companies and financial institutions. Here's Emily and her fellow panelist Rama from JPMorgan talking  about this issue. To set the stage here, our sound bite starts off with Rama and Emily answering a  question about how shareholders are responding to each firm's climate targets and related efforts. 

Rama Variankaval: I don't know, stock price doesn't seem to tell us that anybody is rewarding us for  anything. Look, I think we've spent, again, a lot of time with the shareholders. They are beginning to  understand what we are doing. There are my view, I'm curious Emily, if you agree. A lot of our  shareholders look -- they are not in a dissimilar place to us. Eventually, the asset owners are telling them,  you want to manage my money, you have to follow these criteria, do these things, use your dollars, use  your voting to enforce change, right? 

So in some ways, they seem like they are price takers. And so what they are looking from us is for us to  educate them on how we are going about it. So they can take that and go to the asset on their LPs and  say, "Look, this is how, for example, JPMorgan is going about it". This is why this seems to be a sensible  strategy. And so we should support it. So it's Unfortunately, it's not -- yes, they're all bought into it. I don't  think we are there yet. But I can say pretty confidently every shareholder that we have spent the time  talking about the JPMorgan philosophy and the methodology in detail has ended saying, okay, we see  where you're going. At the very least, you're spending a lot of time and resources into it and we  appreciate it. 

Panel moderator: Excellent. Emily, some... 

Emily Chew: Sure. Look, so much. But -- and everything you said, Rama also resonates. I think about it  in 3 areas. You've got your governance and strategy, data and implementation and then your ecosystem  engagement. So on governance and strategy, you have to -- I'm speaking from the asset management  perspective, but I think it applies to financial institutions broadly. What is your investment philosophy?  What is your reason for being? What is your role in the ecosystem? And I think if that is your stance on  climate like long-term risks and the reality that climate change is not a long-term issue anymore, it's  actually happening now.

It's a real interesting article in The New York Times yesterday about 26% on average risk of wildfire  across every -- on average across all ZIP codes in the U.S., was really interesting. And I thought, well, I  don't know how many thrifts and mortgage banks are really taking this into account today. 

So the purpose being that climate change is a clear and present danger now. How is that affecting your  investment philosophy right now, whatever that investment philosophy is? And then from there, I think  your stance around the positioning or the stance you have or the target setting that you make falls out of  that. 

And then you want to have a proper governance system to record and track those targets. And that  sounds kind of obvious. But when you're in a very large institution as we are, I mean, Calvert research  management is part of Morgan Stanley, they are a net-zero decarbonization targets everywhere  throughout our organization. And those need to be all compiled into one place with a tracking system  that's appropriate or reasonable for each of those targets, whether it's one small investment fund or  whether it's a divisional level target. 

So that is something to grapple with. Then you've got the data implementation, everything you mentioned,  Rama, about how do you actually operationalize. It's a multi-team effort. In our case, it's not only the ESG  research experts and the engagement experts, but you've got portfolio surveillance, pre- and post-trade  compliance, you've got legal monitoring everything that we're saying we're committing to externally.  We've got the marketing team and how they're positioning that message. 

So it's a multi-team effort as well as ultimately, we need the -- we do have a need for external partners to  help us in this journey. We don't have climate scientists sitting around within our organization. I know  some organizations are starting to hire them into financial services, but there's still a translation gap that  needs to be bridged. 

And then, finally, I think there's that ecosystem engagement, and that is the clients, the companies, the  other investors to -- Morgan Stanley sits on the Board of the PCAF, the Portfolio Carbon and Accounting  Financials initiative, which is really crucial for the financial sector for being able to land on a methodology  for how do you even measure and report on finance emissions. That methodology is still evolving. And  none of these targets we're adopting are meaningful without the actual accounting standard, if you like, in  place. 

So I suppose the insight is -- and I don't mean for any of this to sound too overwhelming, although it  probably does, that every organization needs this multi-stakeholder multipronged approach. And I think it  really stretches us into this new -- a new type of literacy, a new type of financial literacy that pertains to  climate because there's very few areas where you need to be quite so coordinated with colleagues with  different skill sets. 

And there's very few areas where you need to be actively ecosystem building, whether it's engaging with  the SEC or engaging with NGOs or engaging with your clients in a coordinated fashion. 

Esther Whieldon: This theme of how climate change is requiring a new type of climate literacy  companies was also echoed by Joseph Lake, who is COO at The Climate Service, which S&P Global  recently acquired. Here is talking about how customer needs around modeling physical climate risks have  evolved. 

Joseph Lake: Increasingly, we've seen that people want to understand this in financial terms. And so 2  or 3 years ago, it was like show us a heat map, what's our exposure, where our red zones. And now, as  you can see from events like this one, this whole conversation has moved from being primarily  sustainability in ESG to one that now involves the Chief Risk Officer or Chief Investment Officer. 

It's going up to the board level, and they expect investment-grade information, and that means quantifying  that in dollars. 

Esther Whieldon: Another key theme at the conference was solving the data challenge around climate  change and biodiversity. 

Lindsey Hall: Yes, Esther, that's something I heard discuss quite a bit in Paris too. This idea that our  understanding of nature and biodiversity is evolving, but that shouldn't stop us from working at speed. 

And I heard from panelists in Paris saying we can't wait for perfect data to begin taking action on climate  and nature. 

Esther Whieldon: Yes. And technology companies could be well positioned to help address the data  gaps that do exist. Many tech companies are already well versed in solutions like artificial intelligence or  AI. For example, Microsoft has an AI for good research lab. The lab uses AI, machine learning and  statistical modeling on five core areas. They are earth, accessibility, humanitarian action, cultural heritage  and health. 

One of the organizations they are working with currently is CARE. That's a nonprofit that works around  the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. At the New York event, I met Simran  Heer, Program Manager at Microsoft, who is working on this very area. I sat down with her for a quick  interview on the sidelines of the event to talk about her work in the AI research lab. 

So what are some examples of the way that you're using AI and the machine intelligence to kind of help  others pursue these goals? 

Simran Heer: Yes, definitely. So across AI for Earth, I know there's four special project subjects, I guess,  that they work on, which is agriculture, water, which is conserving and protecting water resources, it's  biodiversity, monitoring and protecting species from extinction and then climate change, reducing climate  change impact on communities, which could be a variety of different subjects. 

Our basic mission is to kind of work with, whether it's nonprofits, private companies like start-ups or  something or even bigger organizations to help them use AI in a way that speeds up their way that they're  progressing towards these initiatives. 

Esther Whieldon: It makes sense. And with biodiversity, that is a huge challenge because we have a lot  of data on emissions. We have a lot of data tracking pollution, all that kind of stuff. But with biodiversity,  there's so many species or so much. Do you have a sense of how that could be used to help with the  biodiversity side? 

Simran Heer: Yes, definitely. So one of the projects that we worked on was covering land mapping,  which is giving organizations faster and more effectively and cover mapping tool to better analyze,  monitor and then manage the way that these natural resources are being captured and that feeds into a  larger project of our planetary computer where we're trying to build the database of natural capital. 

And then similarly, we worked with organizations like I believe it's called iNatural, which uses AI to take  pictures and these different like imagery sourcing and everything of animals, plant species and stuff like  that and be able to tell exactly what it is and contribute to counting it as well as we can see if it's on track  for extinction or if it's something that is showing up in a smaller or a larger population than it was  previously over time. So that's a different ways that we can kind of build out models for those cases. 

Esther Whieldon: That's fantastic. And for the social aspect for the women's rights side of it or helping  with equity, what are some examples there? 

Simran Heer: So that's one of the projects that I'm working on right now actually. We're almost finished  tying it up. So this one is specifically with the CARE organization and the project is set up in Sub-Saharan  Africa. And it's for basically to respond to disaster relief when these communities and villages -- whether  it's climate change disasters or something socially happens or things like that -- we want to speed up or, I  guess, work with CARE to speed up how fast they can get loans and mobilize those women to be able to  take care of their families, start businesses and get access to different ways of financially supporting  themselves and their communities. 

Esther Whieldon: So how can AI help with that specifically? I get the concept, I'm trying to imagine how  that's implemented. 

Simran Heer: So the CARE organization, obviously, it's a limited amount of human capital that they have  and how many people can be on the field to help out. And so what we're doing for them specifically is  helping automate their survey data.

So they get on, they go to Africa and they go to these villages and visit women and understand like how  quickly they need access to these loans and what they're using them for different situations and things  like that. 

And then all of that is unstructured data, and it's something that takes a lot of manual human power to be  able to analyze it ..exactly.. the manual entry. So right now, we're setting up -- giving them Azure credits  to our portals and everything and then helping them automate all of that data. So they can work on  different things with helping those women. 

Esther Whieldon: That's great. And we just heard in that panel how data is just a big problem. The lady  from Calvert was saying how even companies reporting to like the CDP wasn't the numbers weren't even  adding up, right? She was saying like is an intern turn doing some of these numbers, I found kind of  funny. And this is an area that you guys can help sort of bring some more clarity to that data. 

Simran Heer: Yes. And I think like being able to be on the ground and whether it's working with start-ups  or these nonprofits and everybody is doing the work, everybody is on the ground. They're in different  aspects of climate change and ESG and everything. 

So to be able to collect the data firsthand, and be able to standardize it and bring about that consistency,  and hopes of maybe understanding natural capital better, like the state of our planet and everything, I  think, would be the large-scale picture in like 10 years. Because I agree, I think like with the SEC ruling  and everything, data inconsistency is the biggest thing. And people don't really understand the scenarios  that they're in and maybe that could be something that is accelerated if we had a better idea of what the  state of these ESG issues are. 

Esther Whieldon: Or are you even just tracking the tree canopy and how it's evolving for the positive or  the negative, all that. 

Simran Heer: Yes, and crowd sourcing is so important, being able to kind of work with other people to  automate these types of problems that need to be solved is I think the only way that we're going to kind of  begin to touch upon these climate change issues you know. 

Esther Whieldon: Also on the sidelines of the summit, I sat down with Josh Green, who is Co-Founder  and Chief Operating Officer in Novata, a technology platform that focuses on ESG data in the private  markets. In October 2021, S&P Global formed an ESG-focused partnership with Novata. For those less  familiar with the private equity or PE markets, you'll hear him mention the term LP. LP stands for a limited  partner who is a third-party investor in a private equity fund, limited partners typically consist of pension  funds, institutional accounts or wealthy individuals. 

You'll also hear Josh mention the EU's SFDR. This is the European Union Sustainable Finance  Disclosure Regulation. The regulation is meant to make it easier for investors to understand the  sustainable investing strategies of asset managers and investment advisers. And it's part of the EU's  push towards making the economy greener. We've covered SFDR quite a bit on this podcast and will  include a link to an episode in our show notes for anyone who wants to learn more. 

Josh Green: Novata is an ESG platform for the private markets. If you look at ESG and the last few  years, how ESG has just become the topic du jour in public markets, we're at the beginning of that  process with private markets. So private equity funds and others are under pressure to collect ESG information and report it. Novata is here to help. 

Esther Whieldon: And so where are the pressure points coming for them? Because typically, with the  publicly traded companies, it's investors, right? So for the private equity, where is that coming from? 

Josh Green: So I think there are two sources. One is there are folks in the industry who are true  believers and have actually been thinking about ESG and impact for quite some time. But the broader  market is feeling pressure in the same way from their investors. 

The LPs are saying, we are getting ESG information from the managers who are investing in the public  markets, why are we not getting ESG information from the managers that are investing in the private  markets. So the PE funds are feeling the pressure, and this is something that they haven't done before.

Esther Whieldon: What are the sort of the biggest challenges for them in getting this data compared to a  publicly traded organization? 

Josh Green: Well, let's talk about one of the advantages, and that is that there's a very tight relationship  between the funds and their portfolio companies. So they have the ability to ask for and get information.  But there are challenges, three big ones that we keep running into as we talk to our customers. 

One is waiting through the alphabet soup of frameworks and metrics, figuring out what to track. Second is  then the process of actually going and getting the data from private companies that many of whom have  not tracked this data in the past and may not know how to report against the metrics that you're  requesting. 

And then third, and a challenge that I think people have generally more experience tackling, is then  getting insight from the data. But frankly, most folks are still dealing with that first challenge of just figuring  out which metrics to track or that second challenge of then going through the hard work of collecting the  data. 

Esther Whieldon: The self-education component of that -- from a regulatory perspective, right now, if I  understand correctly, there's very little regulation on disclosure for PE. Where do you see that heading? 

Josh Green: Hard to say. I would say things that we know are that Europe is leaning further forward on  the regulatory front. SFDR is something that's on most managers' minds right now and is something that  is filtering down through the private markets. In the U.S., we're not seeing the regulatory pressure.  Obviously, there was the SEC proposal that is specific to climate. 

And there's been some talk of ESG more generally. But our sense is that the markets are moving much  faster than the regulators are in the sense that these LPs or wealthy individuals who are putting their  money to work increasingly are asking what's the impact that my money is having, either positive or  negative, and the markets are responding to that pressure. 

Esther Whieldon: Is part of it the change in generations who are handling this money? Is that part of the  driver there? 

Josh Green: I think that's right. And I think if you look at the -- on the LP side, I think a lot of LPs are  organizations that are affiliated with government entities, universities, these are entities that are feeling  pressure... 

Esther Whieldon: From their students or ...  

Josh Green: Exactly. Exactly. So they've been thinking about these issues for a long time. I think what's  new is that this pressure is starting to filter through to the private markets. There's this focus on  nonfinancial metrics to go alongside the financial metrics that, of course, has been the bread and butter of  financial markets for a long time. 

Esther Whieldon: One of the criticisms of ESG is that people who aren't a big fan of ESG make is that it  could prevent market formation. It could prevent companies from wanting to go public. What's your sense  there? Is that something you look at all? 

Josh Green: So there are a number of criticisms of ESG. 

Esther Whieldon: I was just thinking it that one. 

Josh Green: And I think there -- I think ESG deserves to be scrutinized as a discipline as a way of  thinking about companies because that's how it's going to get better, right? ESG wasn't always called the  ESG. I think you fast forward five years from now, I think it will be called something different because the  thinking about how to evaluate companies along nonfinancial dimensions and then tie that back to  financial dimensions, that thinking is continuing to evolve as it should. 

With respect to going public, I think there is this notion that if public companies are facing scrutiny that  private companies are not, that there's going to be a disincentive to go public. And I'm guessing that  maybe on the margins, that's going to be the case.

But I think realistically, the private companies that are on the trajectory to go public, they're already facing  this scrutiny because their private equity investors are asking for ESG information. So I don't think it is  something that is actually a needle-moving dimension of the ESG conversation. 

Esther Whieldon: And in some ways, from what you're saying, in some ways, the fact this pressure is  coming on to the private sector will make that less of a barrier going forward. The more that pressure is  already being felt, then yes, the fact that you exist, I mean you're going to come under pressure  effectively. 

Josh Green: I think that's right. And I think there's a perspective here, which I think certainly informs  Novata's thinking about the market. And that is that -- if you believe that ESG is something that is positive. 

If you believe that looking at the way in which a company interacts and impacts people in the planet. If  you believe in that, I think the logical conclusion is that, that lens needs to be brought to bear, not just on  public companies but on private companies as well. 

Carbon to me, is a very straightforward example of this, right? If all the public companies in the world are  fantastic in reducing their carbon emissions, but private companies keep doing business as usual, we are  not going to solve our climate problem. 

So we look at the private markets and private companies, we see the majority of economic activity  happening there. If you care about making business, making capitalism more sustainable over the long  run, you have to believe that ESG needs to be brought to bear as a lens on the private markets in  addition to being a lens that's brought to bear in the public markets. 

Esther Whieldon: So as you can hear, Lindsey, there are many challenges associated with ESG-related  disclosures as well as modeling, setting and implementing climate targets. But financial institutions, tech  companies and others are working to help solve these problems. 

Lindsey Hall: And for those of our listeners who are in Australia who are able to travel there, we're  holding our third and final summit in Sydney on June 9. We'll be bringing you more insights from our  conference in the weeks to come. And thanks to everyone who took part in the New York conference and  our podcasts. 

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of ESG Insider and a special thanks to our producer, Kyle  Cangialosi. Please be sure to subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter, ESG  Insider. See you next time. 

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