A Sustainable Christmas with Patrick Thomas: Staycations, veggie diet and panic buying

In this brand new series, we ask ESG investment professionals to reflect on 2020, share their sustainable festivities and New Year's resolutions

It has been an astonishing year, one that none of us could ever have predicted and the remainder doesn’t look much more appealing with the festive season with our extended family and friends in jeopardy.

To lighten the mood, we wanted to find out from ESG investment professionals the achievements and lessons learned in 2020. We also asked how they will be making their festivities sustainable and their New Year’s resolutions to protect the planet and society.

We will be running this series in the lead-up to Christmas and hope you enjoy some light-hearted reading to get you in the festive spirit and also prompt you to think about your personal and professional sustainable goals for 2021.

Kicking off our new series is Patrick Thomas, ESG Clarity editorial panellist and head of ESG investing at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management (CGWM).  

What are your biggest personal and professional achievements this year? 

Professionally it’s been reaching a three year track record on my ESG product. Personally, it’s achieving my lockdown objective of mastering some yoga moves – I’m fairly proficient at the crow pose and head stand. 

In ESG, what has had the biggest impact this year? 

The biggest impact has come from artificial intelligence – from electric vehicles to telehealth, this technology has been the key to solving some of the planet’s biggest sustainability challenges this year and it is clear it will continue to play a massive role in the future. 

What is a major positive change that your business has introduced permanently as a result of the pandemic?

Flexible working has been a massive boon for a lot of employees – some prefer being in the office all the time, but many are keen on a flexible structure. There has also been a big focus on mental health care – CGWM introduced a number of new initiatives, including the #wecandothis campaign, which focused on employees’ physical and mental well being during lock down. We teamed up with some fantastic athletes, including swimmers Lizzie Simmonds and Tom Dean who conducted Zoom training and well-being sessions for staff. 

How will you be having a sustainable festive period?

I’m afraid it will probably involve having a pandemic enforced staycation. I’d like to think one day I’ll be bottling jam or knitting jumpers as gifts, but unfortunately, this year I will probably resort to panic buying on Amazon… I need to break the habit!

What is your go-to winter holiday routine and what’s your back-up plan for this year? 

I know I will be oscillating between over eating chocolate oranges and trying (and failing) to make up for it by longer runs. And I think it will be more of the lockdown same – nice long wintry walks, cooking at home, wall to wall Netflix – not much has changed since March. 

What’s your sustainability New Year’s resolution?

Definitely to go veggie. Plant-based diets are key to solving a lot of the food sustainability issues on our planet. It’s definitely a talking point with a lot of the fund managers we speak to who are doing ground breaking things in the ESG space. It’s high time to start practicing what I preach and defeat the meat

What’s your big prediction for next year in the ESG space?

I’m sure there will be a more thematic focus around sustainable food production and packaging. And it’s about time too. A lot of companies – food producers, supermarkets – have to start coming up with more sustainable options for customers. There’s definitely the ‘pull’ from consumers, so it’s up to those companies to make it happen. 


Natalie Kenway

Natalie is editor in chief at MA Financial covering ESG Clarity, Portfolio Adviser and International Adviser. She was previously global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist...