9 Apr 2021
For my inaugural episode of ‘Investing in Zero,’ I was honored to be joined by David Callaway, founder and editor of Callaway Climate Insights, a weekly newsletter that provides news critical analysis and commentary on the business of climate change.
Starting his career as a reporter and columnist for the Boston Herald, David later joined Bloomberg News. David has served as editor in chief at CBS Market Watch and USA Today, where he grew the digital news group to the fifth-largest in the United States. Prior to founding Callaway Climate Insights, he was CEO of The Street, Inc.
Given his deep experience in financial journalism, I was eager to have David on the podcast to learn exactly how he decided to focus all of his attention on the way climate change is impacting business strategy and investment. I was fascinated to discuss his understanding of the range of ways in which climate change is altering the face of commerce and our daily lives. He told me how he had been thinking of launching Callaway Climate Insights for a whole decade and his certainty that, even with Donald Trump as president, Wall Street would start to focus on ESG issues. Since launching his own publication, David said he has been blown away by the passion he has found in this part of the financial services sector, and is gratified to find stories of innovators and entrepreneurs striving to meet the demands of climate change.
We also discussed how social media has upended traditional journalism and how, in this economy of fake news, climate deniers have gained a great deal of traction. However, David also told me how he has seen those voices drowned out by the real-time impact of climate change across the country, from wildfires to super storms. We then turned our attention to the aftermath of the Texas winter outages and what part that story could pay in motivating investment in greener energy, as well as how the Biden administration is incorporating these developments into infrastructure investment—investment that is already severely impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic. We also talked about how the polar vortex has made the fragility of the grid frighteningly apparent.
I asked David how we can be sure to bring everybody along into this brave new world of clean green energy and an improved infrastructure when, at the end of the day, consumers have to pay. David made a case for private investment as the one way to avoid tax hikes he does not believe are politically tenable in America. We discussed how the greening of America will depend on that search for funds. Our conversation shifted to SPACs, green branding, and other mechanisms for drawing money and public attention to this profound shift in infrastructure. We agreed that for ESGs to be useful, they need to carry the same import as a financial statement and not simply be an empty marketing gesture.
David told me that, overall, he remains optimistic about our ability to shift gears and go green in the coming years, but he cautioned that disasters are happening everywhere already and we have a rough road ahead. All in all, I found this informed, pragmatic optimism to be refreshing, if sobering. To hear more of our conversation tune in at https://www.investinginzero.fm/david-callaway/