TGL news: More green shoots appear in the world of finance

TGL news

New growth flowering four months after Black Saturday bushfires, Strathewen, Victoria. Photo: Robert Kerton, CSIRO

Frasers Property has kicked off February with a Sustainable Finance Framework (SFF) for Asia-Pacific that defines an entire portfolio of properties as sustainable assets.

The funds raised under the SFF can be used to finance a green portfolio with a minimum of four-star Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) rating. The company aims to achieve a five-star rating for its new developments and at least a four-star rating for its existing portfolio.

Green loans instruments –  available exclusively to finance eligible green projects – have only been around for a couple of years.

But in the face of a climate emergency, where we are witnessing the early stages of what some say is a fundamental shift in the global economy towards sustainability and low carbon operations, green finance volumes are rising.

It has been estimated that in 2018, green and sustainably linked loans were already worth more than US$99 billion.

The business world’s conversion to all things green continues to gather pace, with AustralianSuper and the Queensland Investment Company joining a list of investors behind US clean energy financier Generate Capital, with both Aussie companies to be represented on its board.

Residential market turns green

And it’s not just the corporate world getting in on the act. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation last month unveiled a scheme that will provide green home loans to interested builders and homebuyers. Bank Australia was the first mortgage provider to take up the offer.

Greenlister, Good Green Home Loans, has been in this space for awhile, helping people choose a loan with one of many lenders that don’t support fossil fuel production. Amy Beattie told The Green List in December that it would take just 15,000 loans moving away from the Big Four for ethical reasons for them to take notice.

Social sustainability

Of course, there’s more to sustainability than having environmental credentials.

The Fifth Estate this week talks to new mortgage broker, Benevolence Financial Group, about how it is investing up to 50 per cent of its profits into a microfinancing project for vulnerable women called the Hunger Project.

It is early days for the small team working with founder Samuel Philipos, so it is only investing in the one charity. But the plan is to grow the list of partner charities so that customers can select the cause that resonates with them the most. Philipos says charities will be screened to ensure they align with the broker’s mission.

How deep do our wasteful habits go?

If you thought excessive consumption and wastefulness was a modern affliction, think again. Urban archaeologist Sarah Hayes has been digging through the rubbish of 19th-century Victorians and has found mountains of the stuff.

During the Gold Rush, people had cash to spend. Hayes said it was a time of great social mobility, with many moving into the middle class and using their possessions to prove it.

Hundreds of ships would land in Port Philip harbour so there was no shortage of goods to buy.

“It was coming in by the ship, the surplus stuff, causing a feedback between the two as the gold rush made [consumerism] more accessible for a lot more people.”

Families would throw out barely used crockery to replace it with a more fashionable set, and rapidly replace jewellery with newer styles.

She suspects it might have been a source of embarrassment to sell items second hand at the markets, or simply a matter of convenience like we experience today. That would explain why there are mountains of glass bottles left behind despite multiple industrial-scale local recycling operations.

It turns the usual narrative on its head that our forebears were frugal, but Hayes suspects this was a response to WWI and WWII. “That was a 20th century thing, the 19th century was incredibly wasteful.”

These insights can inform our response to the growing waste problem, she says, as we’re fed the same line by marketers promoting new products as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.

Sarah Hayes will talk about her research on a panel as part of the National Sustainable Living festival, on Thursday 27 February in Brunswick.