Morgan Stanley IM: Clean Technology and the Paradox of Progress

Morgan Stanley IM: Clean Technology and the Paradox of Progress

Clean technology is critical for reaching net-zero, but its own sustainability risks should not be ignored. Read the latest from our Global Risk Control Team for their views on what these risks include and how to best mitigate them.

12.10.2023 | 06:11 Uhr

Key takeaways:

  • While clean tech’s takeoff marks a positive step forward on the path to net-zero, renewable technologies are not without their own problems.
  • Specifically, global supply chains appear as key areas of vulnerability, exposing companies to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns, such as biodiversity loss, human rights abuses and more.
  • In our view, a pragmatic approach grounded in strong governance standards is best suited to resolve these tensions while supporting meaningful climate solutions.
  • The GBaR1 ESG process is tilted toward the strongest ESG performers and harnesses engagement on material ESG issues (including supply chain sustainability), with the aim of providing better risk-adjusted returns and measurable improvements in sustainability outcomes.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, observers have repeatedly noted that the forward march of progress is often accompanied by unforeseen and unintended consequences. This simple idea, known as the paradox of progress, is neatly encapsulated by debates around fossil fuels and climate change. On the one hand, fossil fuels helped underpin the development of modern industrialized economies, but on the other, greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to outcomes such as global warming and environmental degradation.

1 The Global Balanced Risk Control Team (GBaR) has a long-established approach to managing global multi-asset portfolios, within a risk-controlled framework.

Risk Considerations

There is no assurance that the Strategy will achieve its investment objective. Portfolios are subject to market risk, which is the possibility that the market values of securities owned by the portfolio will decline and that the value of portfolio shares may therefore be less than what you paid for them. Market values can change daily due to economic and other events (e.g. natural disasters, health crises, terrorism, conflicts and social unrest) that affect markets, countries, companies or governments. It is difficult to predict the timing, duration, and potential adverse effects (e.g. portfolio liquidity) of events. Accordingly, you can lose money investing in this portfolio. Please be aware that this strategy may be subject to certain additional risks. There is the risk that the Adviser’s asset allocation methodology and assumptions regarding the Underlying Portfolios may be incorrect in light of actual market conditions and the Portfolio may not achieve its investment objective. Share prices also tend to be volatile and there is a significant possibility of loss. The portfolio’s investments in commodity-linked notes involve substantial risks, including risk of loss of a significant portion of their principal value. In addition to commodity risk, they may be subject to additional special risks, such as risk of loss of interest and principal, lack of secondary market and risk of greater volatility, that do not affect traditional equity and debt securities. Currency fluctuations could erase investment gains or add to investment losses. Fixed-income securities are subject to the ability of an issuer to make timely principal and interest payments (credit risk), changes in interest rates (interest-rate risk), the creditworthiness of the issuer and general market liquidity (market risk). In a rising interest-rate environment, bond prices may fall and may result in periods of volatility and increased portfolio redemptions. In a declining interest-rate environment, the portfolio may generate less income. Longer-term securities may be more sensitive to interest rate changes. Equity and foreign securities are generally more volatile than fixed income securities and are subject to currency, political, economic and market risks. Equity values fluctuate in response to activities specific to a company. Stocks of small-capitalization companies carry special risks, such as limited product lines, markets and financial resources, and greater market volatility than securities of larger, more established companies. The risks of investing in emerging market countries are greater than risks associated with investments in foreign developed markets. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) shares have many of the same risks as direct investments in common stocks or bonds and their market value will fluctuate as the value of the underlying index does. By investing in exchange traded funds ETFs and other Investment Funds, the portfolio absorbs both its own expenses and those of the ETFs and Investment Funds it invests in. Supply and demand for ETFs and Investment Funds may not be correlated to that of the underlying securities. Derivative instruments can be illiquid, may disproportionately increase losses and may have a potentially large negative impact on the portfolio’s performance. A currency forward is a hedging tool that does not involve any upfront payment. The use of leverage may increase volatility in the Portfolio.

ESG Strategies that incorporate impact investing and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors could result in relative investment performance deviating from other strategies or broad market benchmarks, depending on whether such sectors or investments are in or out of favor in the market. As a result, there is no assurance ESG strategies could result in more favorable investment performance.

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