Green Transition Scoreboard®

A Personal Note from Hazel Henderson

The global economy is now at a tipping point, as documented in our annual Green Transition Scoreboard® reports since 2009, culminating in our 2018 and 2019 reports showing over $10.387 trillion now privately invested in green sectors worldwide. We are emerging from the 300-year fossil-fueled Industrial Era to the cleaner, greener information-rich renewable energy societies which I predicted in my The Politics of the Solar Age in 1981, reviewed in the New York Times and based on my  six years of service on the Technology Assessment Advisory Council of the US Office of Technology Assessment, the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering. This book is now in 800 libraries in over 20 languages around the world. Technology assessment research deepened my understanding of the scientific realities now entering public awareness: our planet Earth is awash in energy – that free daily photon shower from the sun. Our Green Transition Scoreboard ® has reported the progress of efficient capture and use of this gift of Nature which green plants innovated in the first technology: photosynthesis – providing food for humanity.

This confirmed my view that GDP gives a Grossly Distorted Picture of a country’s progress. By 2000, I and Calvert launched our Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators as an unbundled dashboard of 12 systemic trends in national progress, now part of Ethical Markets.  Both public and private finance can play leadership roles: public investments created satellite communications, the internet, the inter-state highway system and many civilian spinoffs of military budgets, while the private sector innovated in chemistry, biotech, the worldwide web-based economy and a whole range of efficient, renewable energy and materials technologies. These scientific breakthroughs and  innovations are still often  ignored by Wall Street, and have led to  the new risks in  science-denial, as we show in our 2019 report  due to those anthropocentric  fallacies in economic textbooks and  underlying most financial models: CAPMs, Value at Risk, Black-Scholes-Merton Options Pricing as well as security analysts’ asset allocation “buckets” , all in algorithms , which still lack a sustainability sector.  Solar, wind, geothermal, whose annual potential exceeds total reserves of fossil fuels, are lost in their models, formulas and many ETFs still dominated by fossilized assets. Energy efficiency was often lost to investors’ view until Bloomberg and FTSE began noticing their rapid paybacks of 12-24 months, obscured by textbook economics ignoring the “externalities”.

Calvert, Pax World, Domini, and other SRI-ESG, green funds pioneered, along with Alice Tepper Marlin’s Council on Economic Priorities, the new metrics of ESG company valuation.  At the UN, Dr. Elizabeth Dowdswell, the first head of UNEP, pioneered UNEP-FI, bringing global financial groups into awareness of how economies are dependent on nature’s ecosystems.  Thoughtful financiers pondering their persistent crises are learning from ecologists how to correct financial models while recognizing that finance is a part of our global commons ( Out of UNEP-FI, many initiatives have now joined the global Green Transition: UN-PRI with assets under management of $60 trillion; the UN Global Compact with its  10 Principles of Global Corporate Citizenship, the UNEP Inquiry on Sustainable Finance ( Accounting models shifted to IIRC’s 6 forms of capital: financial, built, intellectual, social, human and natural forms.  TEEB analyses revealed the value of ecosystems and biodiversity as material to asset valuation.  In the private sector, SwissRE, CERES, the GRI, REN 21 and WWF joined in pioneering new metrics, while new stock indices and market letters covered the emerging green sectors, companies, and investors. Individuals in 12 countries revealed in our “Beyond GDP “research with Globescan showed the growing public awareness of the value of environmental considerations to overall wellbeing. Pew surveys in 2019 confirm that the public in 27 countries rate climate change the top risk, as we cite in our 2019 report.

Thus, I created the Green Transition Scoreboard® and selected only those technologies and companies I knew would meet the long-term criteria of sustainability.  Thus we deliberately omit many investments in many areas that are not based on good science, technology, and competent management, as part of the new often hidden threat to financial markets: science-denial. It’s time to end fossil fuel subsidies which would cut deficits and return billions annually to taxpayers and allow the green sectors to compete on a level playing field  Today, 70% of all US federal subsidies still go to oil, natural gas and coal and another 15% to ethanol – not to mention the hidden subsidies to nuclear.  As James Fletcher, former NASA Administrator told our Technology Assessment Advisory Council in 1976, if all these subsidies over past decades had instead gone toward solar, wind, all renewables and efficient energy, the US economy would have been 100% powered by these renewable sources by the mid-1970s.  Our Green Transition Scoreboard® tracks this technology evolution through these investments, shifting from the past to the future.   The Green Transition Scoreboard® details this new 21st-century economy and how we are moving toward this cleaner, greener sustainable future, as envisioned in the Green New Deal Resolution backed by over 100 members of the 116th U.S. Congress in 2019.

Hazel Henderson
Creator, Green Transition Scoreboard®
President, Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil)
Author, Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006)
Solar Irradiation versus established global energy
resources Solar Generation 6, EPIA 2011