Last year’s surge in oil prices brought record windfall profits for oil majors, and a boon for investors. But historic trends don’t favor fossil fuels.

From 2010 to 2020, the oil & gas sector underperformed the broader S&P 500 index. The sector gained 6% over that period, while the benchmark S&P index grew 180%. Some called it a “lost decade” for fossil fuel investors.

“If anything, oil’s been a drag,” says Zach Stein, the co-founder and CEO of Carbon Collective, a company building climate-focused portfolios for investors and employer 401(k) plans.

The recent surge for the oil and gas sector shows how fundamental fossil fuels are for today’s economy. But looking forward, oil is facing the most significant competition it has ever seen, thanks to electrification and clean energy. 

That view of the long-term threat to fossil fuels drove Zach to co-found Carbon Collective – with a mission to build funds around industries that will deliver strong returns in a climate-constrained world.

In this episode, produced with Carbon Collective, Zach Stein talks with Stephen Lacey about trends in sustainable investing – how to define the category, identify good investments, and separate it from the confusing world of ESG.

If you want to invest sustainably – at work or individually – you can learn more at There, you can see how the portfolios are built and read more about the company’s theory of change.