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The ESG Experience Podcast - Season 1, Episode 7

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  • October 18, 2021
The ESG Experience Podcast - Season 1, Episode 7

2022 ESG investment trends: Are we ready? ft. Patrick Wood Uribe

In this episode of The ESG Experience, Helee Lev and Ryan Nelson are joined by Patrick Wood Uribe, CEO of FinTech startup Util, to discuss influences and trends that will affect the ESG investing landscape in 2022. Topics include lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, ESG investment growth and the emergence of required disclosures in the U.S., risks surrounding ESG-related litigation, and more.

Read the transcript of this episode below:

Helee Lev: Hello, and welcome to the seventh episode of The ESG Experience podcast brought to you by Goby, the ESG platform. I am Helee Lev, Goby’s Chief Revenue Officer.

Ryan Nelson: And I’m Ryan Nelson, Goby’s CEO.

Helee: Whether you are an ESG expert or just dipping your toes in the ESG universe to understand how it can help with engaging stakeholders, mitigating risks, and attracting investors, this podcast is for you. Together, we’ll navigate the alphabet soup of ESG, discuss ideas, review strategies, and share industry news and trends. Today, we are joined by special guest, Patrick Wood Uribe, CEO at Util.

Util is a FinTech startup that uses machine learning to map and measure the positive and negative impacts of every listed company in the world based on the 17 UN SDGs and 2,000 further sustainability themes. As CEO, Patrick brings a wealth of experience at the intersection of machine learning and finance. Before joining Util, Patrick was the Head of Business Development at Kensho, the leading provider for artificial intelligence and data analytics to sophisticated financial institutions and critical government agencies. We’re excited to have you today, Patrick. Welcome! Welcome!

Patrick Wood Uribe: Thank you so much for having me.

Helee: Yeah, for sure.

Ryan: And we’re saying it properly? Util?

Patrick: You are, yeah.

Ryan: Util. Util, Util, great.

Helee: Of course. We wouldn’t say it wrong on a podcast with tens of thousands of listeners. It was practiced. It was rehearsed.

Ryan: I mean I hadn’t heard of Util, but I spent a lot of time researching and looking at the site and your background and we’ve got some questions here for you today, but I’m mostly like thrilled to just however you could work in the conversation about what you guys are doing and how it works. Like it’s really cool, really cool stuff that you’re doing over there. So, I appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise and talk a little bit about ESG with us although I understand a little bit now about how your platform is different than ESG and the perspective you have, and I think that was a really cool insight that I got. So, yeah. I trust you’ll be interested in sharing some of that.

Patrick: Absolutely, and that’s a good place to start. I think in, as Helee put it, navigating the alphabet soup of ESG, one of the things that we do here really often is the distinction between ESG as a measure of the risks on a company. So, am I managing those risks? Am I, for instance, an oil company that takes into account the risk of an oil spill in an accurate and reasonable way that sort of communicates to my investors? That’s one thing, but that’s very, very different from the impact that that oil company has on the world around it. And so that has been, when we looked at what we were providing to the market, that’s one of the things that we really wanted to do was to start not just kind of doubling up on existing information, but bringing something new to the market which looks at how companies affect the world around them and that’s the distinction that you highlighted.

Ryan: Yeah. If I summarize it one more time, as I was explaining to someone earlier, am I saying it right? Like ESG is kind of how you perform your business and at Util, you’re looking at the actual outcomes and what is the product and what is the service and how is that thing impacting a sustainable economy, I guess.

Patrick: Yeah.

Ryan: Is that somewhat accurate?

Patrick: That’s exactly it. Yeah. That’s exactly it and you could sort of think of it as sort of the difference between sort of similar questions. One of them is, for its type, is this a good company? And that tends to be, that’s historically the way ESG has been. It’s like given the constraints of being this kind of thing, is this a good version of that thing? What we’re doing is, what we see is kind of the next question which is, is this company selling stuff that is making the world better or worse? And that’s, I think, especially when we think about the importance of managing all of that impact to understanding how we get to a place where companies are more sustainable, and they actually have an impact on the world that can be positive as well. They’ve minimized the negative impact. That’s where we see the market going is this sort of understanding like is this company making the world better or worse as a really important question.

Helee: Yeah. I like the illustrative example from your website about how ESG can have blind spots. So, you say here that it can fit a tobacco company or a fossil fuel company can score highly in ESG just on the basis of transparency, but you’re not, to your point, examining the fact that they’re burning, that it’s fossil fuels or that it’s a tobacco company. So, that is an important consideration. And, of course, you know the frameworks can be subjective which I think is why you chose to align with SDGs as the framework of consideration of Util.

Patrick: Exactly. Yes, there are a couple of things behind that that are really key for us. As I would sort of say, as kind of guiding principles, one of them is that we do use machine learning as a technology so that’s another piece of it that I will come back to in a second. The SDGs are especially helpful as a framework because they are, first of all, they’re goal-oriented which is really helpful because we don’t just want to say, “Oh, I took one step that makes me better than I was last year, but there are still a thousand steps to go.” We want to know that there are a thousand to go. We want to measure our progress to know if we need to take 200 a week or what is the progress that we actually need to make. So, you need to have a sense of what that is. So, the SDGs are very helpful in that sense.

And then, the other sense they’re really helpful is that they’re quite holistic which ESG, that’s another one of the ESG blind spots is you might think about environmental concerns, but then what do you do if you want to take into account really significant global social concerns? Like what do you do about poverty or hunger or healthcare in developing countries?

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: Those are the things that the SDGs are really helpful for contextualizing that we’ve seen recently, in fact, that there is a huge blind spot in the way that we approach particularly something like green bonds or sort of climate-friendly investments. We want to be in a position where we’re actually globally making the world better so the SDGs are really helpful there. And then, the other piece of it is exactly as you point out. A lot of the analysis can be really subjective. So, we take advantage of the fact that we can train machines, and as long as we do that in a really careful way, they don’t have many of the weaknesses that human beings do. So…

Helee: I love that.

Patrick: I’ve used this example before.

Helee: Such a great point. It just is what it is. There’s no spinning, there’s no twisting, there’s no greenwashing. It literally is just a robot saying it is or it isn’t.

Patrick: Exactly, exactly. And that binary type, we end up doing lots of layers of it so it’s really accurate and it’s representative of what we’re really looking at, but it’s so helpful because we already know if you give different people different material, they pay attention to the most recent thing. It’s like a really well-documented human failing. The recent things stand out in our minds, and we think that’s the most relevant and the machine just doesn’t have that issue.

Helee: Yeah. Yeah, the recency bias. Yeah. Makes sense.

Ryan: That’s really cool. One more thing that I’ll mention for now of many things that you are doing very well, the explainer video like on the first you know just scroll down a little bit on your site, so good. Like such an…

Patrick: Okay. I’m glad you like it.

Ryan: Easy, 2-minute way or whatever it was to get a really great picture. I really enjoyed it. So, we’re still in that realm where I guess where we must talk about COVID so we’ve got the one COVID question that we’ll talk about. We kind of say that 2020, I guess even with social injustice, let alone a pandemic, some distrust in maybe leadership and things like that that we’ve seen, it really feels like a year that shined a light on ESG or on the purpose for SDGs and that kind of stuff. Do you see that as a fad in that we’ve all kind of like focused on it and it has some energy behind it right now? Or was that a proper pivot to like this is really important and business and even day-to-day consumers are going to keep this in mind for the coming decade plus?

Patrick: So, I think it’s more of the latter. It was funny. I was trying to think of the appropriate analogy for what I think has been an evolution over the year. I started out thinking, “Wow, this is making a lot of grey things black and white.” That was the first reaction I had.

Ryan: Sure, sure.

Patrick: Just like wow. We’re either are going to make it through this or not and so that was very clarifying. And I think that happened in a lot of ways. It happened in very personal ways for a lot of people too which is suddenly the things that really matter to you start to stand out. Like the things that you really care about, the things that I think were already trends in the market just started to accelerate. So, I think on the one hand, it is definitely here to stay because it did accelerate a lot of trends that we were seeing.

So in, for instance, in finance, the explosion of ESG over the past year, I think, is itself like an acceleration of an existing trend that we saw in other industries which is people start to really associate their dollars with their values. So, people buy things from companies that they identify with, that they feel are doing good work. It’s really important to them to identify with the brand of a company and those sorts of things. And we saw that starting a little bit in finance and then it just really took off with ESG over the past year.

I think, with markets being what they are, I think what will happen is that that will continue and much of that will remain, but I think a lot of things will also kind of fall off in the process as well. Also, I think we’ll see a little bit of pendulum swinging. Where, for instance, a lot of the energy stocks that performed badly last year because no one was traveling, no one was really going anywhere or a lot of the activities that burned energy, as it were, weren’t happening. So, obviously energy stocks underperformed, but that’s no longer going to be the case this year. So, those will start to perform better, and I think we’ll start to see some sort of growing pains as a result of that and a little bit of instability, but I think the principles are really definitely here to stay.

Ryan: So, consumers will continue to assign value, personal values, in their investments. That will continue to happen so in a way, that kind of drives everything. And now, we have to make sure that we can have an effective way for those people to make those decisions…

Patrick: Totally. Yeah.

Ryan: Without the greenwashing and all the kinds of things. So…

Patrick: Exactly. Yeah.

Ryan: Cool.

Patrick: I would completely agree.

Helee: So, I’m going to go off script for a moment. Mostly because I’m wild, but also because I need you to unpack this for me. It’s just an interesting concept. So, again, you say on your website let’s say you’re trying to understand Facebook’s impact on mental health. And of course, there has been pressure around social media channels and how much responsibility they should have as to being catalysts for riots or mental health. So, interested to hear how you might do that. How you might measure and assess Facebook’s impact on mental health? And then the other point, and then like what do you do with that? So, you say each product or each company is going to have positive and negative impacts on different sustainability concepts. You capture them, but then what? So, say that we determine Facebook is terrible for mental health, like then what? Is it public shaming? Like how do you turn that into action?

Patrick: That’s really, really interesting. I think it’s a really interesting kind of market dynamic question as well. So, there are several parts to it. So, some of it is like how we do what we do at Util, but then some of it is also why we do it in terms of helping investors make those decisions and what those actions really consist of. So, the first piece of it is to take a company like Facebook, there are tons of them that are like this and it happens really frequently where there will be, and this is again why machine learning is so awesome, there’s a sense in which we focus on one thing at a time. It’s very natural for humans to do this. Like it’s how we’ve gone through the world for a really long time. And one of the things that makes investing in this way, we’re trying to understand multiple impacts, so complicated is because it’s actually there are so many interlocking parts and there are so many different things to consider. So, really, really kind of easy comeback when people are talking about the negative impacts of Facebook. Well, wait a minute, what about all of the different ways in which people are now connecting in ways that impact their social lives in a positive sense?

Helee: Right.

Patrick: Like how do we measure that against the negative mental health impact? How do we measure positive mental health impact? How do we measure, for instance, the economic benefits of how cheap advertising is through social networks? What about that kind of explosion in commercial activity that can happen through some of these online platforms that wouldn’t happen otherwise? So, that’s the kind of thing that we map when we look at a company like Facebook. And I don’t have it off the top of my head, but I know that there are multiple impacts in all of these different areas…

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: Including things like economic growth that will happen through these different things. So, that’s one side of it which is the very reason we want to capture multiple impacts is so that we can understand well what’s the relative, I guess, how much importance do we ascribe to the thing that we’re hearing about relative to these other things. A really good example is something like an energy company where we’re always trading off economic growth and environmental degradation, right? I guess if you count like all of human existence, we’ve burned stuff for energy forever. So, there’s like well, let’s understand what we’re powering with that and understand how we compare those things rather than just well energy is, it either has to be clean or non-existent. So, that’s part of how we deliver the data to our clients.

And then on the action side, like what do people do with this? That’s the piece where I think we really are the new frontier. I think one of the things that’s emerging now that I think was not really all that clear, or at least, we sort of had a handle on it before is that these actions and the kind of available set of preferences for investors is so broad and so complex that in some ways, it’s really hard to say for this investor, for instance, what might be exactly the right thing for one investor is totally the wrong thing for another investor. And we sort of know this intuitively because every day in the stock market, someone is buying something that someone else is selling.

Ryan: Yeah.

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: I’d say there’s always a difference in preferences like billions of times a day. And so, when we think about that and we think about well, what’s the data that a person in that environment needs to make the best decision? They need timely data. They need trustworthy data. They need something that they can really depend on and that’s clear to them and that gives them some kind of realistic sense of what they’re looking at and that’s what we’re aiming to provide. And then, with that information, investors can choose these are the particular areas that I care about the most. This is where I want to align my investments or the reverse. I want to short things that I think of that or whatever it might be.

Ryan: Yeah. That’s an exciting concept to me. You reminded me, there’s an environmentalist, a Canadian environmentalist, named David Suzuki that I really like, and he wrote this book. And he talked about this terrible industry and he wrote all the things that it did. He’s like, “If we would’ve known that this many deaths,” like millions of deaths...

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: And this would happen and this would happen and this would happen, we would undo this. And then he’s like, “It’s the invention of the automobile.” So...

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: Would you undo it? Or you’re valuing the other things that it has done for humanity. You would never just stop that progress, but if you look at it like this and see everything associated with it, you might go, “Wow! Is this good or is this bad?” So, I thought that was pretty interesting, but you mentioned trying to provide that data. Do you see yourselves or anybody kind of becoming or any official standards or is there going to be one super simple way that we’re going to be able to value public companies? And then, could the private market use that same thing? Or US legislation or what you’re seeing in UK, is there a clear, easier, easily adaptable thing coming or does it exist, in your point of view?

Patrick: That’s a really tough one. I think my feeling on this has been similar; sort of consistent, but also somewhat evolving. I think the reality is that the range of preferences for investors is so large that actually a single standard probably isn’t the best thing. Because actually we already use different standards all the time. So, as an investor, my rule of thumb might be a particular P/E ratio relative to the peer group. But for a different investor, they may want to value that company differently and they’ll go through the whole discounted cashflow. Like there are different ways to think about value. And those models coexist all the time and we’re totally comfortable. And so, in a certain sense, like it doesn’t make sense to me to have well this has to be the ESG standard because we already use multiple standards as it is. So, that’s one piece of it.

The piece that I think is really, really critical is to make sure that investors have consistent, accurate and trustworthy data. It doesn’t do any good if investors in one part of the market have great information and somewhere else, they have terrible information. Or they only have great information about companies of a certain size. And that’s another kind of principle that we’ve adopted at Util is this idea that we want to provide something that is consistent across all of the companies that we look at. Because otherwise it’s not especially, and it’s useful in pockets, but it’s not useful across the board. And then we want to be as inclusive as we possibly can. So, the first piece of that is to cover every listed company in the world so that we don’t leave out, for instance, small companies in developing markets, et cetera. So, that’s another piece of it.

And then I think, as you pointed out, the ideal scenario is to have something that at least we have a kind of common framework for different types of companies and different asset classes, even if in practice, we don’t have a single standard. We need a sort of common language even if we don’t always use the same words as it were.

Helee: If you level the playing field too much though, right? And you give everybody the same information, doesn’t that take some of the fun out of the strategy and the arbitrage and why someone is a buyer and why someone is a seller? It’s like too fair, but I’m just kidding. It’s the right thing to do, but...

Patrick: Well, that’s exactly it. That’s one of the things where I think there’s a distinction between the information that people use and then how they use it. So, I sort of think of it as like a
hammer which I can use to drive a nail or I can break my thumb.

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: Like we want to provide everyone with the hammer that’s appropriate to their size of hand and arm and whatever it might be, but ultimately there is going to be that judgment skill, that kind of human component and how people use the data, but I do think there’s that floor that we want to reach. And then, as you say, the fun comes in in how you implement it.

Helee: Yeah, for sure. There’s still discretion and how someone’s going to unpack it or align it with their own investment thesis. It makes sense.

Patrick: Yeah, exactly.

Helee: So, maybe shifting gears a little bit on a different topic. So, greenwashing obviously has been around for a while and that’s part of what you’re trying to combat is really holding people, I’d say, accountable for what their companies are doing and what their businesses are doing, adding the transparency, make it more public. And in line with that too, there is regulation here in the States where the SEC now has this committee. It’s like 30 or 40 people and there’s a whistleblower hotline where you can actually actively report greenwashing. And then, of course, the next iteration of that is going to be ESG-related litigation. What is your take on that? Do you think that’s coming hard and fast? Is that going to be the kind of thing where as these things go, happens first in Europe and then the States follow? What are your thoughts on just the increase in the coming years of ESG-related litigation?

Patrick: And I think it’s interesting because I think that there is a likely cultural distinction between the EU and the US. I think, if you were to ask me, and this is totally personal speculation, so this is not a...

Helee: Yeah. We want your personal speculation. You’re a professor...

Patrick: Yes.

Helee: And you went to Oxford and Princeton, so your personal speculation is just fine.

Patrick: Okay. Well so, on a personal, and what I found, and also having lived in both places, this is another kind of personal aspect to this...

Helee: Sure.

Patrick: What I think is likely is that the EU will probably lead the way in terms of regulatory structures. So, there will be more regulatory guidance in the EU. That has already started. They’ve already taken the lead. We’ve seen the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. There are the different parts of the EU taxonomy that’s coming. So, there’s already that that’s in motion and in that sense, the US is a little bit further behind. Having said that, the US, from the very beginning without sort of embarking on like an impromptu civics lesson, but the legal system in the US has always been a proving ground rather than a way of enforcing existing laws. So, the assumption in the US is that you put a law in place and then you sort of litigate away all of the holes and exceptions and judgment, all the various different judgments. And then eventually, that’s sort of a refining process that gets you to the point where it’s more commonly understood, and everybody abides by it. That’s comparatively unusual as a perception of what the legal system is supposed to do. Well, if you were to ask me before I came to the US, I would tell you that the laws exist. If you break them, you get sued.

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: Or you go to jail and that’s it.

Helee: Yeah. Yeah.

Patrick: Like there’s no other. I’m not trying to test...

Helee: So elegant in its simplicity and logic, right?

Patrick: Right. So, I think that’s where we’ll see probably, if I had to guess based on those two things, I would say it’s very likely that if these regulations take force, we’ll see litigation in the US probably a little bit more often than in Europe for that very reason unless there are some really kind of egregious cases in Europe that come up.

Helee: Makes sense.

Ryan: So, how are we doing? What do you point out that you’ve discovered, I guess? I’ll tell you I was looking around. I think what I was looking at was all 45,000 listed companies’ performance across the SDGs. I toggled between a couple different countries. Life below water seems quite concerning to me. I don’t know. I enjoy the water. Another environmentalist that I follow, Paul Watson, he tries to save whales. Sorry, I’ve just really been fascinated about that. Life below water looked very concerning to me and his saying is, “If the oceans die, we die.” So, I don’t know. I just noticed that was like a big red bar.

Helee: Yeah.

Ryan: Am I reading that properly that that’s bad?

Patrick: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of what we find, I would say if I summarized the overall trends that we’re seeing, there are a couple that really stick out. One of them is that environmental impacts are really varied and they take a lot of different forms and they’re almost all alarming. So, we tend to think of like climate, and we think of temperature of as kind of our principal gauge. The globe is getting too hot, and we think about...

Ryan: That’s almost all we talk about. Yeah.

Patrick: Exactly.

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: And then we get really focused on it and then we don’t realize that there’s a ton of activities that we’re doing. Some of them even involving sourcing the materials that will go into providing that transition. Like the minerals and all of the different metals that go into making green products, a lot of those are actually, those come with environmental negatives. And so, it’s enormously complex. So, that’s one thing that I would take way from the overall data. And it’s sad to say, but I think the one key takeaway is that basically economic activity is bad for the environment. And if you want to take it one step further, human beings being on this earth, like that’s a problem for the environment. So, we have to figure out a way to keep being that mitigates all of these negatives, and the issue really is that we have to do that at a pace that’s realistic and that’s not just putting a Band-Aid on a really, really kind of significant issue.

Ryan: Wow.

Helee: Yeah. And I think I agree with you. I mean just on a personal note, and I’m not a professor nor did I go to Oxford or Princeton, but people just don’t do anything, unfortunately, until it’s smack in their face. Like we talk about this flooding, we talk about the sea levels rising, we talk about cities like Miami and Bangladesh could be under water in our lifetime, but literally until people see like water coming under their door, they’d be like, “Oh, like my house is flooded. Fix it.” And that’s the frustrating, enraging thing to me having been in the ESG space for my entire career almost 20 years is just driving the behavioral change. So, you have like these macro level things like the Paris Climate Agreement that you hope will kind of align the world because like yeah, we’re all in it together, but you see the evidence of the coral reefs dying, all these things. It’s like we’re not doing it fast enough, so it is troubling at a macro level. Not to be depressing, that’s usually not my vibe, but it is. I mean it just is. It’s scary.

Patrick: Yeah, it really is. And the nice thing is that at least we’re in a position where among all of us, we can get this done, right? I think as long as we approach it in the right way that we have the collaboration, I sort of see it as like a kind of mega version of the space race. Like we just, we have to think about it in those kinds of gigantic collaborative terms.

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: And we have technologies that can help us, we have brains that can help us. Like there’s a ton that we can do, but it is really alarming, and I think we have to counteract. My response in this is honed over many years of disappointment when I feel that kind of, I guess, negative about where we are. The important response for me is like well, how do we turn that into positive action. I think there’s a lot of good that we can get out of it, but in a way, you sort of have to get depressed first.

Helee: Yeah. I think...

Ryan: Yeah.

Helee: Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. It’s like you said, if everyone gets excited about putting a person on the moon or putting tourists into space or...

Helee: Yeah.

Ryan: Putting a human on Mars and people rally around it, it’s like we’re definitely going to do it. Like we’re definitely going to figure all those things out. So, if we decide hey, we definitely want to save this planet and it’s something that must be done, then if you look at it at that kind of macro level, they’re like yeah. We can do these outrageous kinds of things. And to your point that if you look at it binary, humans are bad for the planet. We’re a negative impact. Okay, but we’re agreeing well, we’re going to try and solve for that...

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: Because we want to be here so we’re just going to do it. And then the economy thing, that’s another interesting one. I don’t like this. There’s some proposition that economy equals an environment or whatever, but an economy is definitely a made up, imaginary thing and a tree is a real thing. So there’s definitely...

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: A difference there. I believe in priority, but we’re also agreeing we are going to have some sort of society in economy. So, we have to solve for being here and then having some society and then somehow make sure that we can be sustainable while doing that even though I guess what you’re saying is right now, they’re just the negatives...

Patrick: Yeah.

Ryan: So, that’s quite the thing there...

Patrick: Yeah.

Ryan: To turn around.

Patrick: Yeah. This is like major philosophical issue. I was not expecting to get straight to...

Ryan: Oh, well...

Patrick: That is very cool.

Ryan: Yeah. I saw, and I’m going to touch on this towards the end here in a few minutes, but that you have a PhD in Philosophy as well. Is that right?

Patrick: Oh actually, Music Theory. So, I...

Ryan: Music Theory.

Patrick: I did read a lot of Philosophy in doing it, but it’s actually Music Theory.

Ryan: I thought it said Philosophy on LinkedIn, no? It says Music Theory? What did I miss? Okay. Well, that’s awesome. I’m listening to a podcast right now called The Soundtrack Show.

Patrick: Interesting.

Ryan: And it’s all about the music in movies. And I imagine you know John Williams…

Patrick: Oh, yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. And so, there’s a lot about him, but it’s this guy who is in the industry and it’s just absolutely fascinating the composers that make music and the storytelling that goes into the song. Like you almost don’t have to watch Indiana Jones. You can listen to the…

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: The John Williams’ song and go, “Oh, I know what happens. There’s this hero and he...”

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: “Goes on a journey and it’s tough, but he’s hopeful and then he wins.” Like you could just get that out of the thing. You don’t have to watch the movie. That blew my mind, but I have to plug Tenassi or Kylie here who got me into that podcast, but…

Patrick: How wonderful.

Ryan: Yeah. Anything else, Helee?
Helee: I just have one other question. Again, a little off script. So, you’ve mentioned that you spent both time living in the States and time living abroad. So, one of the problems going back to I guess the macro level philosophical conversation we’re having is like just people’s willingness or want or maybe some of them want to do the right thing, but they don’t like tactically know what to do. It’s like, “I recycle, what else should I do? I walk when I can.” But then there’s the whole like, at least in the US, we have the subculture of the people that just don’t think that this is a problem, right? They think it’s just a hoax and that global warming isn’t real and that climate change doesn’t matter and it’s all cyclical. Are there people like that in Europe too? Or do most folks, and I know it’s a very broad, generalization, but do you have a subculture of those folks that are really just still denying climate change or denying that this is a problem?

Patrick: My impression is that there are those people everywhere. That’s my impression from what I’ve read, and I think it’s really tricky. And I think when I do think about that kind of predicament, it actually reminds me of a range of different, I guess, similar encounters where it’s much more of a kind of tribal or cultural, I guess, confrontation, and that’s where we see just increase in polarization overall. And I think that’s the sort of trend that we’re seeing. I have no idea how to counteract it, but I feel like if you were to ask me, I don’t know, 10 years ago how strongly held those opinions were…

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: I think it’s probably way less strongly than they are today.

Helee: That’s helping.

Patrick: So, I think there is a kind of polarizing…

Helee: Shift?

Patrick: Yeah, which is concerning, and I guess that’s also part of the challenge of how we try and fix all of this.

Helee: Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s definitely part of the challenge. To the analogy of putting a person on the moon or space travel, like everyone thinks that’s cool, for the most part I mean.

Patrick: Right.

Helee: Anyone’s going to argue that it would be cool to explore space, but yeah this is different so…

Patrick: Yeah. Well, I think just on that point, one of the things that has really struck me about something like the space race or the international space station is probably an even better example. It’s like when you think about all of the different things that need to happen in order for that space station to exist. There’s the technology that keeps it going, there are the people that operate all of the instruments that do it, there are the astronauts that go up there, there are the people who build the rockets that get them to the space station…

Helee: Yeah. Yeah.

Patrick: There are the people who design the trajectories, there are the scientists who design the materials for X, Y, and Z. It’s just for a relatively small space physically that is orbiting the earth, it’s a massive number of people that have been involved.

Helee: Yeah.

Patrick: And I sort of feel like that’s how we need to think of it in terms of approaching our own kind of sustainable future.

Helee: Yeah.

Ryan: Are we sure that there actually is a space station up there? No, the idea that like yeah, we’re dropping people off at a space station and picking them up. It’s like, “Oh, what are you doing today?” “I’m going to pick someone up from the space station…”

Patrick: Right.

Ryan: “And bring them back” or whatever. Like yeah, it’s wow.

Helee: Like are you asking Patrick if he has been there?

Ryan: I guess, yeah. No, I mean an homage to the person on the moon situation.

Patrick: Yeah.

Ryan: Do we really have someone up there? No, we must. Well, really appreciate all that deep conversation and philosophical as some of it was, that brings me to lighten it up a little bit with a game we play here every time, if you don’t mind…

Patrick: Of course.

Ryan: People enjoy it very much. It’s very simple. In the world of artisan and craft concepts, all you have to do is tell me if the thing I tell you is beans or beer. It’s either beer or beans, okay? Craft beer or beans…

Patrick: Okay.

Ryan: Is all you have to say. And in the light of Philosophy, I’m going to change it. I’m not going to actually say the name of the either coffee or beer brewery, I’m going to say one of their products.

Patrick: Okay.

Ryan: And actually, then I’m going to go look to see if they’re listed and try and see how well they’re doing.

Patrick: Nice.

Ryan: Probably not because they’re craft. This product is called “Three philosophers.”

Patrick: Would say beer.

Ryan: So, beer? You’re correct. That is a beer. Well done.

Patrick: Okay.

Ryan: It’s a cool little craft brewery. Another one of theirs is they have a whole Game of Thrones set of beers. They have…

Patrick: Wow.

Ryan: A whole philosopher’s set of beers. They have a whole thing, but they’re called Ommegang and they’re in Cooper’s Town, New York, but they’re mostly Belgian beers. So, well done…

Patrick: Very cool.

Ryan: Sir.

Patrick: Thanks so much.

Ryan: Very well done.

Helee: All right. Well…

Ryan: Anything else, Helee? I think that brings us to a wrap here.

Helee: It does. I was just waiting for a long enough pause to indicate that you were definitely done with the game.

Ryan: The game is over.

Helee: The game is complete.

Ryan: Patrick won.

Helee: Okay.

Patrick: The game is over.

Helee: The game is over. So, thank you guys, everyone for joining us on The ESG Experience podcast. And thank you again to our guest, Patrick. This was exciting and fun to do with you. Our next episode, we’re going to focus on the concept of within the built environment of ESG from built to boardroom and how we move the needle there. Thank you to all our subscribers for continuing to listen and support our podcast. And if you want to continue the conversation between episodes, do follow us on your favorite social media channel at #esgexperience.

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