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The Investment Dispositive and the Climate Crisis

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Johannes Lundberg - Invited speaker

This presentation will investigate the role of financial capitalism in mitigating/aggravating the climate crisis. More particularly, it will analyse the way finance theories have affected Danish pension funds’ divestment decisions (i.e., decisions to end investments in fossil fuel companies). By now, various studies have documented that the specific economic interests of fossil fuel companies have led them to a highly successful lobbyism to delay climate regulations. As the power of capitalism is sliding from owners of means of production towards owners of means of finance, investors now have a critical role in influencing the fossil industry. On this backdrop, the investigation takes up a double task: First, it will identify a logic of an ‘investment dispositive’ (i.e., a tendency transversing different types of techniques, theories, practices, and documents). The investment dispositive will be traced in financial theories concerning ‘agency theory,’ ‘modern portfolio theory,’ and ‘fiduciary duty,’ proposing a tendency to: define investors’ responsibility to maximise profit, highlighting risk management, delimited active ownership, and neglection of environmental consequences of investments. Second, it will trace how the investment dispositive has translated into textbooks, laws, and investment models and practices, focusing on how this has shaped the divestment decisions of Danish pension funds. The analysis of Danish pension funds will focus on to which degree and how: a) Co-ownership in pension funds gives a stronger voice and concrete political influence to climate concerned members compared to commercial and state-owned pension funds; b) Transparency strengthens public discussion about investment policies and policies of active engagement; c) The investment dispositive hinders Danish pension funds in implementing investment policies aligned with the goals of the Paris agreement.
2 Oct 2021

Event (Conference)

TitleClimate, Crisis, Capital: The 6th Annual Conference of the Danish Society for Marxist Studies
LocationAalborg Universitet
Degree of recognitionNational event

ID: 223929537