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Green or Brown?

Green or Brown?

Let’s do colours this week, shall we? Great. I will start with the colour green, and this is what l found about it with a simple Google search: “Green can represent new beginnings and growth”.


It also signifies renewal and abundance. Alternatively, green can also represent envy or jealousy, and a lack of experience.

 Green has many of the same calming attributes that blue has, but it also incorporates some of the energy of yellow”. Well, reading through this I got the perfect understanding of what it means when you are told to be “green”.

If you didn’t catch it, let me state the obvious again: It means you lack experience! This is just an aside though, so l am going to look at the next colour- brown.

Again, the Google search gave brown this description: “The colour brown is usually perceived as neutral and natural.” Because of this, brown is thought to evoke feelings of warmth, security and earthiness. Brown does a fantastic job of conveying emotions related to the natural world, as well as connoting organic, wholesome feelings in general”. Okay, that’s my colours done, literally!

However, I am now going to use the colours to situate in sharp context the meaning they connote in the financial world too. So, for instance, when finance experts talk about green investments, what exactly do they mean? Certainly not referencing one of the colours of the rainbow!

Simply put, green investments or activities reference those initiatives that contribute to sustainability. To keep it clean and simple, I will look at examples within business practices, where emphasis on societal and environmental concerns has placed a lot of weight on investors, as far as their asset selection is concerned.

Here we go then. In the fight against climate change, for example, there is a strong push for financial asset owners to contribute immensely to the battle by urging their fund managers to divest from shares of firms with high greenhouse gas emissions to those firms with sustainable principles embedded in their operations (greener operations).

This move, many claim, would ensure that the companies that are not building their businesses around sustainability principles would find it hard to compete and make a profit.

 Now, in the February 25 edition of this column, I touched on this subject but in a different way. I didn’t call it green or brown but it had the same meaning. In fact, I stressed that when the last tree dies, the last man dies to emphasise the cry of conservationists and environmentalists for us, humans, to value the importance of sustainable development. 

In the referenced edition, this is what l wrote in part: “Because I don’t want to pretend to be all-knowing about plant life, to illustrate my point, I did a simple Google search about trees! I just wanted to be sure! And this is one of the ‘basic’, clear messages that l got: ‘Trees are vital.

As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter. Not only are trees essential for life, but as the longest living species on earth, they give us a link between the past, present and future”.

Yes, green is life, as trees, in most ways, present the beauty of nature to us. “A walk down a clean and well-kept park, after a stressful day, gives some relief. The air we breathe in is important to our health, and trees ensure that we have the right oxygen for the body to function well”. I stressed this also.

As stated earlier, green can represent new beginnings and growth, renewal and abundance. That is what plant life represents, and what my colour green speaks to me about.

The alternative representation of green— envy or jealousy— is not part of the discussion here! Let’s go green to save the planet Earth, that’s the message!

To brown. But let me say this first, before l speak to brown, as referenced in the world of finance. I didn’t particularly get what l expected to read about “brown” from the Google description that l got. I wanted to see dirty, dense, deplorable, etc. The meaning I got from the Google search, actually, was quite nice. 


But not so nice in the world of finance. Corporate initiatives to promote net zero investments are pushing for investors to divest from the brownest firms or influence the transition of those firms to greener operations. Did you get that?

Move from brown to green! But if you look at the colours alone—per the Google definition— do you get that feeling? Definitely not. And there is no challenge of a definition here either.

It is just what it is; firms less climate-friendly are “brown” firms, and as explained, those that are considered more environmentally sustainable or climate-friendly are often referred to as “green” firms.


Green or brown firms, as humans, we sit in the middle of all of this. We create the brown firms and even destroy the green plants as well, and struggle to initiate green principles. As I explained in the May 15, 2021, edition of this column, the effects of climate change are real, and hurting the planet badly.


“Dinosaurs lasted for millions of years, and records also show that Neanderthals, which became extinct between 40,000 and 28,000 years ago, existed for about a quarter of a million years, but homo sapiens has existed barely 100,000 years and is fast running out of time”, I stated in that edition.

“We have turned the land into a desert with our crude methods of farming, production, pollution, destroyed the animal insect and, therefore, are exposed to diseases; and destroyed the plant life that sustains us, polluted the air, and ultimately ‘changing the climate’”

We have turned green to brown when we were to turn brown to green!

Truth is, each of us has our own individual framework. However, collectively, we act as if we are programmed the same way. We have, collectively, created problems for Mother Earth. And we must collectively work together to solve them. Now we must move from brown to green with our behaviour.

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