Stranded Assets & 5 Top Greenwashing Topics — Interview With Assaad Razzouk

I recently interviewed Assaad Razzouk, CEO of Gurin Energy and host of “The Angry Clean Energy Guy” podcast, for our “CleanTech Talk” podcast series. Part 1 of the interview focused on Assaad’s career history and then 5 top greenwashing topics. Part 2, below, starts with a discussion about stranded assets and then resumes Assaad’s list of greenwashing topics.

Whereas Assaad is not a fan of terms/concepts such as “green bonds” and “carbon footprints,” he does support banging the drum on the concept of stranded assets. He argues that this concept “has actually finally made some institutional investors — not enough, but some — wake up to the fact that these cash-flow-producing oil or gas fields or coal plants in their portfolios, seemingly with decades worth of cash flows to come, may not deliver these cash flows. And it’s critical because, if these investors increase the cost of capital that they then ascribe to these investments, you can change the entire world, because what you can do is you can then drive money away from that sector. If you make their money very expensive, they would clearly explore less, build less pipelines, less gas/LNG ships, less coal plants, and then use up their existing assets in the time that they have less, which is a shrinking window. So, I think stranded assets is a very important concept.”

Resuming his greenwashing list (which is far longer than what’s covered here), next up was simply law firms. The point he made, convincingly, is that various law firms enable so much of the climate crime against humanity. They do much of the dirty work by representing the big polluters and finding ways for them to get through loopholes, survive (in the short term), and pollute, pollute, pollute, pollute. Without so many effective law firms supporting them, the fossil pollution industries wouldn’t be nearly as effective at poisoning our planet. Fossil fuel companies rely heavily on immoral lawyers and law firms.

Assaad then jumps on the International Energy Agency (IEA), which he highlights as “a mouthpiece for the fossil fuel industry.” As an example, he zeroes in on the IEA’s “Seven Key Principles for Implementing Net Zero,” published at the end of April 2021. Shockingly, this supposedly important and useful document had no mention of oil, coal, gas, or fossil fuels. … Jaw, meet floor.

“Now, you have to be almost an artist to do that. I mean, that’s just amazing — it really is.”

He also rails into ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance), saying that “almost all of the ESG financial industry is greenwashing.” The problem is that “the whole concept is being gamed, and because the ‘E’ in particular is not being priced, it’s all a show.” We also talked a bit about the shift from using the term CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and other earlier concepts. The regular rebranding raises suspicions, and for good reason. Of course, Assaad brings some receipts on this topic. “Not a single [ESG] fund excluded deforestation risk or screened for it seriously in their analyses,” he said. Furthermore, “Out of 253 US funds that switched to an ESG focus in 2020, last year, 87% rebranded. So, what they did is they added words like ‘sustainable’ or ‘ESG’ or ‘green’ to their names. Guess how many changed their stock or bond holdings at that point. You don’t need to guess — zero.”

Assaad also referenced carbon capture and highly recommended this famous piece of Australian satire:

Lastly, Assaad highlighted “any polluting company making noises about planting trees.” Planting trees is fine, great, but as with other matters, Assaad digs into the details and points out the problems and absurdities linked to this PR magic trick.

Listen to the full episode for more! His commentary is top notch and definitely worth a listen. The podcast is embedded above and below via Spotify and SoundCloud, respectively. Or you can go directly to our channel on a range of 11 different podcast networks: AnchorApple Podcasts/iTunesBreakerGoogle PodcastsOvercastPocketPodbeanRadio PublicSoundCloudSpotify, or Stitcher.

Other recent CleanTech Talk podcasts:

Bill McKibben On Climate Crisis, Climate Grief, Climate Action, & US Climate Policy — CleanTechnica Interview

Bill McKibben On Unions, Tesla, & Elon Musk — CleanTechnica Interview

Bill McKibben On Social Trust, Science, & Cryptocurrency — CleanTechnica Interview

5 Top Greenwashing Examples — Interview With Assaad Razzouk

 

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