Item one: we need a greenwash portfolio...

James Bevan, chief investment officer of CCLA, leaks the board minutes of a charity under pressure.


Chair: Hmmm. We need to squeeze as much income from our funds as we can, but we're under pressure from our donors to save the planet and house the homeless. What can we do?

Mr Cynical: I've been reading about how we can pay to reduce pollution in China under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism. It means we can work with a factory in China to improve emissions by selling the reduction in emissions achieved to a European company having difficulties in controlling its own mess. So long as the authorities play the game, we can coin it and get the gold stars.

Ms Activist: Hang on. I've been told that the CDM has real issues. It's paying vastly over the odds for projects that would have happened anyway. All this would fall apart if we insisted developing economies adhered to global shared standards on acceptable emissions.

Mr Well-meaning: Well, a while back I was approached by a bank suggesting we could buy triple A-rated paper while helping people with no income, no assets and no jobs to get on the housing ladder.

Chair: Actually, that's been tried and it hasn't worked out too well.

Mr Cynical: What about signing up to biofuel projects that ease the reliance on fossil fuels? That's a booming market.

Ms Activist: But that could involve bulldozing virgin forests for palm oil production.

Mr Cynical: No problem. We'll sponsor a press campaign calling for an end to the importation of mahogany loo seats. That way we can get good PR for environmental campaigning and, if there are no mahogany trees left when we've built up the bio-fuel business, no one will notice.

Mr Well-meaning: We'd get big brownie points if we supported the move to relabel nuclear energy investment as 'green' on the basis that there are no greenhouse gases and the energy process is quite similar to the sun.

Chair: The big problem I see with nuclear energy is finding places to plonk the power stations where not many people will see them.

Mr Cynical: What about buying big into the manufacturers of fast-moving sports cars, then declaring that a 400bhp car actually produces a lot less carbon dioxide and methane than 400 horses?

Chair: Now you're just being silly. I'm adjourning the meeting for a coffee break. Fair trade, of course ...

- James Bevan is the chief investment officer of CCLA.

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