Weekly News Round-Up: February 2nd, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: February 2nd, 2018

Below please find this week's news round-up.

We are pleased to welcome three new members to the Network this week: TIAA, Glenmede, and Jarislowsky Fraser. For more information on the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN Membership, click here.

We're looking forward to seeing many of you next week in Tempe, AZ for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit!

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
New IEN Members
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

N.Y. State Common to Double Low-Carbon Equity Index Investment to $4 Billion l Pensions and Investments

  • The New York State Common Retirement Fund is increasing its investment in a low-emissions equities index by $2 billion, doubling the size of an investment vehicle that excludes or reduces holdings of high-polluting companies while investing in more environmentally friendly companies.

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how green bond issuance rose 67% last year and could be headed for another record; Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, on a decade in ESG; Companies seen learning to love unions.

Why it's Time to Align Retirement Funds With Sustainability Goals l Green Biz

  • A new wave of environmentally focused retirement funds aims to advance corporate sustainability goals while enabling employees to save for their own financial future. At its winter forum in Phoenix next week, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development plans to set an aspirational goal to move $10 billion in assets under management to ESG-themed retirement benefit accounts by 2020.

February Green Money Journal: Millenials and Money l Green Money Journal

  • The new “Millennials and Money” issue of GreenMoney Journal is now online. The Feb 2018 issue features articles by Millennials who making a Difference including 4x Olympian Lauryn Williams of Worth Winning;  Kelly Coyne of Impax Asset Mgmt/Pax World Funds;  Megan Buchter of AIM2Flourish;  Will deHoo of the FoolProof Foundation;  and a podcast interview with Impact investor Liesel Pritzker Simmons of Blue Haven Initiative.

2018 ESG Trends to Watch l MSCI

  • According to this article, in 2018 the major trends that will shape how investors approach the risks and opportunities on the horizon will be sifting for management quality in emerging markets, first steps in scenario testing climate change, acceleration of ESG into fixed income investing, and looking beyond sustainability disclosure.

ESG’s Failed U.S. Invasion l Institutional Investor

  • ESG factors play significant roles in the investment decisions of 45% of European institutional investors, a Royal Bank of Canada survey found in October 2017. Among American investors, just 12% consider ESG meaningful, as do 16% of investors in Canada. The same survey found that 40% of Europeans believe ESG-oriented investments would likely outperform non-ESG assets, whereas only 5% of U.S. investors say the same. 

Sustainable Finance: High-Level Expert Group Delivers Roadmap for Greener and Cleaner Economy l European Commission

  • The European Commission welcomes the final report by its High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, which sets out strategic recommendations for a financial system that supports sustainable investments. The Commission will now move to finalize its strategy on sustainable finance on the basis of these recommendations. 

World’s Asset Owners Discuss ESG Investment Plans at United Nations l Chief Investment Officer

  • Discussing everything from divesting from fossil fuels to calling for companies to provide carbon footprint data, 450 investors with $30 trillion in assets under management convened at the United Nations on Wednesday to discuss the next steps investors must take during the eighth Investor Summit on Climate Risk. The day featured a panel where some of the world’s top investors detailed their “Next Steps on Climate Change.”

Women Leaders In Sustainable Finance: Modeling The Future—Part 3 l Financial Advisor

  • This is the third in a series of articles sharing interviews with 12 women who are trendsetters and innovators in the impact and sustainable finance sector. To read other articles in the series, click here: article 1, article 2.

ESG Dialogue Turning to Action l Pensions & Investments

  • In this article, Keith Dixson, head of international development at Candriam Investors Group, Stephen Harvey, chief operating officer at Institutional Shareholder Services and Vivek Tanneeru, portfolio manager at Matthews Asia, discuss the costs and challenges of building an ESG-compliant culture, the critical importance of engagement, the need for standardized reporting metrics, and where and how Asia leads the world in ESG.
  • Investors have more choices than ever to invest in open-end and exchange-traded funds that practice sustainable investing. That's the main takeaway from a new report titled “Sustainable Funds U.S. Landscape Report." 

The 3 Biggest Questions About Sustainable Investing l NASDAQ

  • In this article, Blackrock's Brian Deese discusses the most common questions he gets about sustainable investing, and how he answers them-- including an emphasis on the potential linkages between sustainable investing and long-term financial performance.

Scientists Develop Sustainable Investing Framework l phys.com

  • Scientists at The City University of New York and Harvard University, in partnership with UBS Asset Management, have developed a scientific framework to inform investment decisions that make positive contributions to sustainable environmental stewardship and human well-being. Among the beneficiaries are the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals that promote access to clean water, maintaining human health, food security and biodiversity protection.

Performance Need Not be Sacrificed to Responsibility l Financial Times

  • This letter to the editor, written by Linda-Eling Lee, The Global Head of ESG Research at MSCI, acts as a rebuttal to Terry Smith’s article “ESG? SRI? Is your green portfolio really green?, and discusses the differences in SRI and ESG Portfolio construction and historical performance.
 
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Weekly News Round-Up: January 26th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: January 26th, 2018

Below please find this week's news round-up.

We are pleased to welcome four new members to the Network this week: iSelect Fund Management, Flat World Partners, Clean Energy Venture Group, and Fossil Free Indexes. For more information on the leadership opportunities and benefits of IEN Membership, click here.

We're looking forward to seeing many of you from February 4-6 in Tempe, AZ for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit! If you haven't already, there's still time to register.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
New IEN Members
 
New Reports & Resources

Participate in GIIN's Annual Impact Investor Survey l The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)

  • The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is now inviting participants to contribute to its 8th Annual Impact Investor Survey. The report generated by this survey provides critical data to help grow and strengthen the impact investing market. If your organization makes investments with the intention to generate positive social or environmental impact alongside a financial return, please consider contributing to this important and widely cited resource. For more information, contact Rachel Bass, GIIN Research Senior Associate, at rbass@thegiin.org.

Racial Justice Investing Launches Online Group

  • In December 2017, a coalition called Racial Justice Investing launched an online presence with a newsletter for the impact investing community. Racial Justice Investing is a group of socially responsible investors and others in the business community who are taking action for racial justice within their own organizations, as well as in engagements with portfolio companies. Among other aims, the group's purpose is to identify the role of socially responsible investors in working for racial justice, and holding companies accountable for how their policies and practices impact people of color. They are seeking to work in alignment with racial justice organizers, while centering the expertise of people of color. To join and receive updates, contact hlucal@openmic.org. 

The Global Risks Report 2018 l World Economic Forum

  • Each year the Global Risks Report works with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyze the most pressing risks that we face. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely on.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how bond rating agencies are looking more closely at disaster forecasting; Trump's tariffs shake up the solar industry; and Tesla tops up its bet on founder Elon Musk.

Why Larry Fink Isn't Waiting on Washington l Green Biz

  • Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential." With these words, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink last week pushed further open the door to a new era of capitalism in his annual letter to CEOs. This article explores why that new era may be the best chance we have left to solve a number of intertwined strategic challenges, such as climate change and how to welcome 3 billion people into the global middle class over the next 20 years.

ESG Roundup: More UK Consultancies Pledge ESG Trustee Push l Investments & Pensions Europe

  • Four more investment consultants have pledged to ensure UK pension scheme trustees are aware of investment guidance on ESG issues from the country’s pensions regulator. Sixteen investment consultancies have now signed up to an initiative of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT) and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.

ESG Moves From the Margins to the Mainstream l Green Biz

  • There’s a growing recognition by companies and investors that this view is mistaken — that ESG matters are fundamental to business performance and should be disclosed in financial reports. Businesses are also coming to realize that integrating ESG concerns into core business and financial decisions will generate new streams of data that can be used to enhance growth and sustainability. This article was adapted from State of Green Business 2018, published by GreenBiz in partnership with Trucost.

Intel and Nike use this Investor Engagement Tactic Most Companies Overlook l Green Biz

  • This article outlines the steps to include in a proactive strategy to engage investors around your ESG performance to protect and create value for your firm. Engagement provides opportunities to increase investor understanding of your company's actions and efforts. It also can help develop more positive relationships with investors, open lines of communication and increase goodwill. Participating in the conversation can protect your brand, reputation, access to capital, and diversify your investor base.

Wanted: Private Capital to Tackle U.N. Sustainable Development Goals l Barron's

  • The $5 trillion to $7 trillion annual cost of addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, can only be met with a huge boost in private capital. Public monies are meeting only a fraction of this need. Many wealthy investors have already taken up the challenge as the concept of investing to reach social and environmental goals while earning a market rate-of-return increasingly gains traction. The size of the impact investing market to date is unclear, although the Global Impact Investing Network, or GIIN, says $114 billion is a “reasonable floor” based on its 2016 survey of 209 leading impact investors.

How to Drive Competitive Returns with Impact Investing l Wharton

  • In this podcast, two social-impact investors discuss their quest for competitive returns.

Lauren Compere: Socially responsible companies are proving good investments in Asia l Asian Review

  • Interest in the stocks of markets such as China and India and in ESG have reecntly boomed, with more than $70 trillion of assets now managed in line with the U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. It is time for investors in Asia to consider ESG principles and identify those companies robust enough to provide long-term growth opportunities.

‘We Have to Change Capitalism’ to Beat Climate Change, Says Blackrock Vice-Chair l Climate Home News

  • Capitalism must change to avert climate change, according to the vice-chair of the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock. Two weeks ago, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink shook the corporate world with a letter demanding social responsibility in return for the support of his company, which manages around $6 trillion in assets. On Wednesday, at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, vice-chair Philipp Hildebrand expanded on that theme.

Socially Responsible Investing Gets a Trump Bump l Chicago Tribune

After Trump's election, though, the expectation was that a Republican-led Washington would enact policies at odds with ESG funds. It would favor the coal and oil industries, for example, which would undercut profits for the renewable energy companies at the heart of many environmentally focused funds. Instead, dollars continued to flow into socially responsible investments, and the industry launched 39 mutual funds and ETFs last year, a record. More and more products are out there now, and everything is poised to see ongoing growth, according to this article.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: January 19th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: January 19th, 2018

Below please find this week's news round-up.

Making headlines this week and explored in several stories below was BlackRock's Annual Letter to CEOs, calling on corporations to find a purpose in society or risk losing support from shareholders. 

The 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership is only two weeks away (Feb. 4-6 in Tempe, AZ), and if you haven't already, there is still time to register!

Also be sure to register for our webinar with ICCR leaders on The Investor Case for Human Rights next week, on January 24th.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
New Reports

The State of Green Business, 2018 l Green Biz

The Business of Planting Trees l The Nature Conservancy & The World Resources Institute

  • A new report launched this week finds that restoring degraded land is not only good for the planet, it’s also a good investment opportunity as well. Through the analysis of 140 restoration-focused businesses in eight countries and four continents, The Business of Planting Trees shows that the economic benefits of restoring land are estimated at $84 billion per year and deliver a range of financial returns.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support l The New York Times

  • This week, the chief executives of the world’s largest public companies received a letter from one of the most influential investors in the world. Laurence D. Fink, founder and chief executive of the investment firm BlackRock, is going to inform business leaders that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.

From BlackRock With Love to Aimless CEOs l Barron's

  • Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, called on corporations to find a purpose in society or risk losing support from shareholders. In Fink's annual letter to CEOs, he wrote: "Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation, and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth."

CalSTRS’ Ailman Gives BlackRock’s Fink an “Ovation” l Chief Investment Officer

  • BlackRock CEO Fink’s annual letter to CEO's rang true to Christopher J. Ailman, CIO of the $221 billion CalSTRS. “As always, Larry is a thoughtful leader and [I applaud with a standing ovation] his focus on corporate governance engagement and board diversity,” Ailman told CIO.  “It is very much in line with CalSTRS’ own philosophy as patient, long-term capital investors with a large passive equity portfolio.”

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how BlackRock CEO Larry Fink offered a new model of shareholder engagement; Global clean energy investment in 2017 topped $333.5 billion; and impact investing in Native American communities.

CFP Board's New Gender Diversity Maven Takes Aim at Gender Gap l Financial Planning

  • More women are earning official financial planning credentials, but they still make up less than one-in-four CFP professionals. That’s a ratio Kathleen McQuiggan, an industry veteran, wants to nudge quite a bit higher. The CFP Board announced it has appointed McQuiggan to serve as a special advisor on gender diversity, a leadership role overseeing the board's Women's Initiative.

The Convergence of Digitalization and Sustainability l MIT Sloan Management Review

  • Digitalization and sustainability are two of the most powerful market influences in today’s corporate landscape. This article explores examples of these two trends converging within the organization abound, from clean technologies to greening production processes to transforming a company’s brand equity as a sustainable company. 
 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: January 12th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: January 12th, 2018

Below find this week's news round-up.

Be sure to check out the stories highlighting the New York City Mayor's announcement this week that city pension funds have set a goal to divest about $5 billion from companies involved in the fossil fuel business, as well as the Mayor's announcement of a lawsuit against five major oil companies, seeking to collect billions of dollars in damages to pay for city efforts to cope with the effects of climate change.

Please note, with our new format for the round-up, we have moved the "Upcoming Events" section to the bottom of the email.

Be sure to register for our webinar on The Investor Case for Human Rights on January 24th, and if you haven't already, don't forget to register for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, Feb. 4-6 in Tempe, AZ! 

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
IEN in the News

Executive Perspective: Educational Endowments and Sustainable Investing l Thomson Reuters Blog

The US SIF Foundation identified more than 80 educational institutions at the start of 2016 that were applying various ESG criteria to assets that collectively totaled $293 billion. In this article, Lisa Woll of US SIF describes some of the challenges and barriers endowments may face when approaching sustainable investing and highlights some examples of leaders in the space, including IEN and several member schools.

 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments and Foundations

Mission, Money and Markets: SIP Team Reflects on Favorite Deals of 2017 l Kresge Foundation

  • As 2017 comes to an end, the Social Investment Practice team members at the Kresge Foundation look back at what deals or impact investment advancements they saw launch into the market – both from Kresge and in the field beyond – that had them excited about seeing capital deployed in new, innovative ways toward social issues from the environment to neighborhood revitalization.

Episcopal Pension Invests in Socially Responsible Fund l Chief Investment Officer

  • The $13 billion Church Pension Fund (CPF), a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church, has invested $17 million in the Social Investment Managers & Advisors (SIMA) Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund I. The $75 million fund will provide loans to microfinance institutions, distribution companies, and manufacturers in the off-grid solar sector located in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in South Asia.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Blomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how New York City's pension funds are to announce plans to divest fossil fuels; a segment with TIAA-CREF's Stephen Liberatore on defining impact in municipal bonds; and how companies are starting to backpedal on virtual meetings.

Number of Institutional Investors Using ESG Factors in Decisions Holds Steady l Plan Adviser

  • Adoption rates of ESG factors into the investment decision-making process among institutional investors has leveled off, according to the Callan 2017 ESG survey. 

This New Blockchain Protocol Wants To Create Accountability For Social Impact l Fast Company

  • The Ixo Foundation’s “proof of impact” protocol wants to give investors knowledge that their money is working–and save organizations time and money in evaluating if their programs are working.

Apple Urged to Curb Smartphone Addiction by Jana Partners and CalSTRS l The Street

  • Jana Partners, Barry Rosenstein, and public pension fund California State Teachers' Retirement System, which together own $2 billion of Apple Inc. stock, launched a new kind of activist campaign over the weekend, urging the iPhone maker to take action to curb growing smartphone and iPad addiction among children.

What's The Value Where ESG Meets Emerging Markets? l Forbes

  • In this Q&A, Liz Su, a member of the Emerging Markets Portfolio Construction team at Boston Common Asset Management, discusses the significance of ESG factors in emerging markets.

MSCI Links ESG With Stronger Asset Growth l Pensions & Investments

 
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Weekly News Round-Up: January 5th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: January 5th, 2018

Dear {{ recipient.first_name_or_friend }}, 

Happy New Year! Below please find news highlights from the past few weeks.

You may notice the new format for the news round-up, as we are now using our email system instead of the listserv for these weekly updates. We hope you like it; please send any feedback you may have.  (The listserv is still active for asking questions and interactive dialogue amongst the IEN community).

And, if you haven't already, don't forget to register for the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, Feb. 4-6 in Tempe, AZ! 

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments & Foundations 

UNC Asheville Looks For Help With Sustainable Investing l Pensions & Investments

  • University of North Carolina, Asheville, is requesting information from investment managers about how to reinvest part of its endowment in sustainable investment options. UNC Asheville's $40.5 million endowment is managed by UNC Management Co., which handles the pooled assets within the UNC system. 

Future Ford Foundation Director Weighs in on Role, Impact Investing l Chief Investment Officer

  • While he wraps up 2017 as managing director and co-head of Morgan Stanley’s Global Sustainable Finance team, Roy Swan will open the new year at the Ford Foundation as director of its Mission Investments team.CIO caught up with Swan to talk about his accomplishments, his thoughts on where the most potential future impact investments appear, and more.

The Church Pension Fund Invests in $75 Million Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund l Business Wire

  • The Church Pension Fund (CPF), a financial services organization that serves the Episcopal Church, announced this week that it invested $17 million in the Social Investment Managers & Advisors (SIMA) Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund I, B.V. The $75 million fund will provide loans to microfinance institutions, distribution companies, and manufacturers in the off-grid solar sector located in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

CalPERS Calls ESG Criticism ‘Laughable’ l Chief Investment Officer

  • The $344 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has scoffed at a report from the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) that is highly critical of the systems’ ESG investments. CalPERS shot back at the accusations, saying that the CalPERS Investment Office’s investment decisions are based on its fiduciary responsibility to sustain the fund and pay the benefits public employees have earned.

 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Briefs l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights what trends to watch in the year ahead, from electric cars to carbon pricing; How SunEdison has emerged from bankruptcy; and that China's carbon market shows how far the U.S. is lagging behind, according to CDP's Paula DiPerna.

Women Leaders In Sustainable Finance: Modeling The Future l Financial Advisor

  • This is the first article is a series that highlights women leaders in sustainable finance and how they are using their industry experience to incorporate two trends into their roles as investment advisors, asset managers, research analysts and financial services executives. 

Break The Sustainable Investing Bottleneck l Investment News

  • This article outlines the various bottlenecks and barriers to adopting sustainable investing, including how Integrating sustainable investing requires understanding a new set of products, having deeper conversations with clients about personal values, and altering your own story about how you can deliver for the new investor.

2018 Sneak Peek: What to Expect of Impact Investing l Barron's

  • Impact investing—the strategy of investing in companies with the intent of bettering the environment and society while still earning a market rate-of-return—gained momentum in 2017 amid rising investor interest and high-profile opportunities from the likes of alternative-investment firms TPG and Bain Capital Management. This article shares the thoughts of executives at four leading institutions on what's in store for 2018.

2017 Was The Year That ... l Green Biz

  • As 2018 begins, there’s a renewed sense of commitment and forward movement on a range of fronts. In that spirit, this article, in no particular order, outlines some of the storylines that were covered at GreenBiz during 2017 that showed the promise and progress of sustainable business.

ESG, SRI & Impact Investing: Explaining the Difference to Clients l Investopedia

  • ESG, SRI and impact investing are industry terms often used interchangeably by clients and professionals alike, with the assumption that they all match in meaning and approach. This article describes the distinct differences between each term that will affect how client portfolios should be structured and which investments are suitable for meeting social impact goals.

Impact Investing: Conservation Gets Finance Boost l Euro Money

  • Conservation finance got a boost in December when the Global Environmental Facility (made up of 18 agencies) allocated over $8 million to the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation (CPIC). CPIC brings together non-profits in the conservation area, including the Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance and WWF, with consultants, impact investment managers and development agencies. Since coming together, the stakeholders have been forming working groups and sourcing projects suitable to be put into conservation investments for private investors. 

Impact Investing is Going Mainstream (Opinion) l CTech

  • According to this author, impact investing is no longer just a niche-- it’s going mainstream. That’s the message the Ford Foundation communicated earlier this year when it announced that $1 billion of its $12 billion portfolio would be devoted to mission-related investing. A significant chunk of the Foundation’s existing investment portfolio will be deployed over time into funds seeking to earn not only attractive financial returns but also concrete social returns. By doing so, the Ford Foundation seeks to align its investments with its mission to reduce poverty and injustice.

5 Impact Investing Trends That Emerged From 2017 l Iris

  • Impact investing drives social and environmental progress through investments, while screening for risk and creating competitive returns. This article outlines five impact investing trends that have emerged in 2017.

 
Green Bonds

Bonds Could Spur ESG ETF Growth l Investopedia

  • Bond funds represent a small percentage of the overall universe of ESG funds. When it comes to ESG exchange-traded funds (ETFs), fixed income is also a small, but growing part of that space. Importantly, the potential for ESG fixed income growth could be widespread across corporate bonds, sovereign debt and other parts of the bond market.

ESG & Bonds: A Compelling Combination l ETF Trends

  • With the universe of exchange traded funds following ESG poised to expand, investors should also expect to see more fixed income funds dedicated to virtuous investing. Some ESG bond ETFs came to market last year, according to iShares.

 
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Weekly News Round-Up: December 22nd, 2017

Upcoming Events
IEN Session + Workshop at the 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 21-23, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
  • IEN Principal, Tony Cortese will be leading sessions examining mission-aligned investing, and a post-conference peer learning workshop going deeper into all aspects of aligning ESG goals to the foundation’s mission while meeting the financial and advancement requirements of each institution.

Webinar: The Investor Case for Human Rights | Intentional Endowments Network, January 24th, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

  • In this webinar, participants will hear from Josh Zinner, CEO of The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), David Schilling, Senior Program Director at ICCR, and Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at Christian Brothers Investment Services, and an ICCR Board Member. They will discuss the potential for investor work on human rights, where investors can have impact and where they have had success in the past, and discuss next steps for those interested in engaging more deeply on this work. The panelists will also introduce a new initiative of the ICCR, The Investor Alliance for Human Rights, which was established to provide a collective action platform to facilitate investor advocacy on a full spectrum of human rights and labor rights issues.
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • The Winter Innovation Summit is the premier cross-industry event in social impact, innovation, and investing. This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. Join us for the latest breakthroughs in social impact, innovation, and investing; ski the greatest snow on Earth; and experience the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
  • Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network are pleased to host the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Join your peers from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona for the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions. 

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. The Gathering represents the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors in impact investing today—and those looking to learn more. Sessions are led by funder-practitioners, investment experts, and other thought leaders.
Responsible Investment Forum New York l Private Equity International, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY
  • Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York for its second year to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.
 
 
 
New Report
 
  • In this paper, Walden explains what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are, why they are important to our clients and to our role as an investment manager, and where opportunities exist for us to advance their mission. There are two primary focus areas for the SDGs in Walden's work: (1) investment decision-making, and (2) active ownership. 
 
 
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Briefs l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how China unveiled plans for a national carbon trading system focused on the power sector; New York pension funds look at divesting fossil fuel holdings; and socially responsible quantitative investors deal with some data challenges, says Acadian Asset Management's Asha Mehta.
Impact Investing: A $250 Billion Game-Changer For Finance l CNN Money
  • Making money is the lifeblood of Wall Street. Making the world a better place not so much. Now that's starting to change, as some of the biggest names in finance adjust their businesses to reflect growing demand for impact investments. "It's a $250 billion market and it's growing fast," said Michael Baldinger, a 30-year industry veteran who joined UBS (UBS) Asset Management as head of sustainable and impact investing -- a new role -- just over a year ago. "It might really be a game-changer for the finance industry."
ESG Investing: Assessing the 'E,' 'S' and 'G' l Investment News
  • "There are two premises to ESG screens," said Steve Janachowski, CEO of Brouwer & Janachoski. The first one is that we shouldn't be supporting bad companies, however we define that. But that's a philosophical point of view; it's not an investment thesis. The other is that a company should perform better because its costs are lower or because people will support it."The best argument, then, for ESG is the G: Governance. Companies with consistently good governance tend not to be hit by disaster, such as the Equifax data breach and the Wells Fargo scandals.
Why Financial Performance Affects ESG Metrics l Forbes
  • Keir Gumbs is a partner in Washington, D.C. and vice chair of the Securities and Capital Markets Practice Group. Before Covington, Gumbs spent six years at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where he held numerous positions, including as counsel to an SEC Commissioner. Gumbs is recognized as a leading authority on securities regulation and corporate governance who represents a cross-section of constituencies, including Fortune 500 companies, venture-backed firms, public pension funds, hedge funds, faith-based investors and trade associations. In this Q&A, he discusses how the development of ESG rating analytics can come to fruition so that there are common metrics across the playing field, and how ESG metrics can show the value in an ESG investment strategy as a hard proposal.
5 Big Things About Sustainable Investing in 2017 l Morningstar
  • This article outlines five big things that happening in the sustainable investing space in 2017 including the Tump effect, The Fearless Girl, BlackRock, SSGA, and Vanguard ramping up their engagement activity, climate risk disclosure, and a focus on impact investing.
Divest or Engage? or Both? l Real Impact Tracker
  • In this opinion piece, Yale Alumni Gabe Rissman discusses his student leadership days at Yale, exploring fossil fuel divestment vs. shareholder engagement, and how both can be effective strategies.
Liontrust ESG Head Says Sustainable Investment Doesn't Mean Low Return l Wealth Manager
  • Sustainable investment is much more than a trend with all available startegies have shown growth in excess of 20% over the last three years, says Peter Michaelis, head of sustainable investement at Liontrust. Talking about the shift of ESG from a marginal part of the industry to a prominent consideration for investors, he cites his team's stock and sector preferences, and plans for 2018.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Exxon Faces Climate Change l Barron's
  • Last Monday, in a four-sentence filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Exxon Mobil's board acceded to a proxy request—one it had previously fought—to disclose more about what tightening climate-change regulations might do to the long-term value of its hydrocarbon assets in the ground. The brevity of its statement belies the potential for change, not only for the supertanker that is Exxon, but also for the energy industry as a whole and even further afield, since the company is so influential around the world.

Four Mutual Fund Giants Begin to Address Climate Change Risks in Proxy Votes: How About Your Funds? l Ceres

  • Each year, Ceres partners with Fund Votes to rank the largest mutual fund companies based on how strongly they support climate-related shareholder proposals. (See methodology note at the end of the blog for more details.) The results for 2016 and 2017 are shared in this article, and the big news is that four of the top ten largest asset managers, together accounting for $12.8 trillion in assets under management, voted for a climate proposal for the first time ever. This has important implications.
  • BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest asset manager, is telling companies that now is the time to start reporting clear information on climate risk to their businesses. The firm, which oversees almost $6 trillion in assets, sent letters from its corporate-governance team to about 120 companies this week, urging them to report climate dangers in line with the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, set up by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.
  • Since the $2.6 trillion asset manager installed a bronze statue of a girl staring down the Wall Street bull, the firm has actually stared down companies lacking gender diversity on their boards. The Boston-based firm has voted against the re-election of the chair or other senior members of male-only boards 400 times so far in 2017, reportsBloomberg. “In some cases we had to agree to disagree and in some cases we got commitments to enhance board quality by increasing diversity,” said State Street’s Rakhi Kumar. “We will work with companies, but of course not forever.”
Investment Manager and Finance News
 
Amalgamated Bank Announces Agreement to Acquire New Resource Bank l Amalgamated Bank
  • Amalgamated Bank (“Amalgamated”) and New Resource Bancorp, the parent company of New Resource Bank (OTC: NRBC; together, “New Resource”) today announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement by which Amalgamated will acquire New Resource for a total consideration of approximately $58.5 million, in a 100% stock consideration transaction for New Resource shareholders and the cash out of existing New Resource stock options. Under the terms of the agreement, New Resource shareholders will receive 0.0315 shares of Amalgamated common stock for each share of New Resource, or a purchase price of $9.67 per share. The acquisition of New Resource represents the opportunity to expand Amalgamated’s geographic presence to the San Francisco Bay Area as well as deepen its model of impact banking.

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Trump Drops Climate Change From US National Security Strategy l The Guardian
  • The Trump administration has dropped climate change from a list of global threats in a new national security strategy the president unveiled on Monday. Instead, Trump’s NSS paper emphasised the need for the US to regain its economic competitiveness in the world. That stance represents a sharp change from the Obama administration’s NSS, which placed climate change as one of the main dangers facing the nation and made building international consensus on containing global warming a national security priority.
Six SWFs Unite to Address Climate Change Issues l Investments and Pensions Europe
  • Six sovereign wealth funds governing $2trn (€1.7trn) have formed an alliance to address climate change issues. The group includes the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Kuwait Investment Authority, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Qatar Investment Authority. Together they have formed the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Working Group to integrate financial risks and opportunities related to climate change in the management of large, long-term asset pools.
Let it Go: The Arctic Will Never be Frozen Again l Grist
  • Last week, at a New Orleans conference center that once doubled as a storm shelter for thousands during Hurricane Katrina, a group of polar scientists made a startling declaration: The Arctic as we once knew it is no more. The region is now definitively trending toward an ice-free state, the scientists said, with wide-ranging ramifications for ecosystems, national security, and the stability of the global climate system. It was a fitting venue for an eye-opening reminder that, on its current path, civilization is engaged in an existential gamble with the planet’s life-support system. In an accompanying annual report on the Arctic’s health — titled “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades” — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees all official U.S. research in the region, coined a term: “New Arctic.”
B.H.P. Billiton, Acknowledging Climate Change, to Quit Coal Group l The New York Times
  • One of the world’s largest coal companies, acknowledging the growing momentum toward addressing climate change, said it planned to pull out of a major industry group over its environmental stances. B.H.P. Billiton, the British-Australian mining company, said in a reportTuesday that it planned to withdraw from the World Coal Association, an international lobbying group, because of differences in climate and energy policies. The report also noted that B.H.P. would review its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in light of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
Jakarta Is Sinking So Fast, It Could End Up Underwater l The New York Times
  • A tsunami of human-made troubles in the Indonesian capital poses an imminent threat to the city’s survival. And it has to deal with mounting threats from climate change. This article covers how it got so bad and potential solutions.
General Endowment News
 
Final GOP Deal Would Tax Large Endowments l Inside Higher Ed
  • A proposal to tax some large private college endowments made it into the final version of a tax reform bill agreed to by House and Senate negotiators last week. The provision matches the more modest proposal included in the Senate tax bill passed this month, rather than a House proposal that would have affected many more institutions. But many college leaders have said the tax is bad policy and sets a dangerous precedent. At the same time, many provisions in the tax legislation that alarmed colleges and students were left out of the final bill.
  • Berea College in Kentucky uses a $1 billion endowment to cover tuition for all of its roughly 1,600 students. Because of that mission, Senate Republicans exempted the school from a proposal to tax the endowments of dozens of private schools. But that exemption was one of three provisions removed Tuesday from the federal tax overhaul because they violated congressional rules. So, Berea will once again join the list of schools seeing their tax burden rise under the GOP plan.
Wall Street Is Making Even More Billionaires of U.S. Colleges l Bloomberg
  • American universities are the richest they’ve ever been, with more schools than ever sitting on endowments valued at $1 billion. Endowments are riding the bull market to riches, but some question whether students should get more help.
 
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
Coal Divestment isn’t Enough, Says CarbonTracker l Triple Pundit
  • By 2030, the coal industry will effectively be operating in the red. That’s the latest analysis from the CarbonTracker Initiative, an independent think tank that looks at the economic implications of today’s coal energy and other markets. But what analysts were really looking at in its study Lignite of the Walking Dead, which was released this week, was what the scenario would look like economically if the 28 countries that comprise the European Union were to actually limit global warming to below 2℃ by 2050.
The Movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels Gains Momentum l The New Yorker
  • This week, a news release went out from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, saying that New York was going to divest its vast pension-fund investments in fossil fuels. The state, Cuomo said, would be “ceasing all new investments in entities with significant fossil-fuel-related activities,” and he would set up a committee with Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller, to figure out how to “decarbonize” the existing portfolio. Cuomo’s office even provided a handy little Twitter meme of the type that activists often create: it showed three smoke-belching stacks and the legend “New York Is Divesting from Fossil Fuels.” The pension fund under Albany’s control totals two hundred billion dollars, making it one of the twenty largest pools of money on Earth. It would make the most sense, of course, to have a concerted global battle against climate change—it is, after all, the first truly global problem we’ve ever faced. But this Administration will not fight it, as Trump’s recent pullout from the Paris climate accords showed. So if the battle, instead, is going to be local, three hundred and ninety billion dollars is a pretty good haul for one day. New York may be an empire in name only, but on Tuesday it demonstrated a global reach.
  • Norway’s main municipal pensions provider KLP has decided to exclude companies from its investments that have more than 30% of their revenue stemming from oil sands activities, and use the proceeds of these asset sales for new renewable energy investments in the developing world. The NOK641bn (€64.9bn) pension provider made the decision after commissioning research that showed the consequences of oil sands production — also known as tar sands — were just as harmful to the environment as those of coal.
  • New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said this week his office would propose to the trustees of the NYC pension funds to explore stopping additional investments in fossil fuels and increasing investments in clean energy. The proposals in the coming weeks will also include divesting current holdings in fossil fuel companies as part of efforts to reduce carbon footprint in various portfolios, Stringer said in a statement.
Cuomo Wants To End Fossil Fuel Investment By Pension Fund l State of Politics
  • The state should stop making new investments from its $200 billion public pension fund in fossil fuel companies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo annonuced this week. The push, part of the 2018 State of the State agenda, will also lead to the creation of an advisory panel to develop a “de-carbonization roadmap” for new investments that bolster fighting climate change and green technology.
After Months of Student Protest, Reed Declines to Divest From Wells Fargo l The Oregonian
  • After nearly three months of a student occupation of administrative offices, Reed College announced today it will continue to work with Wells Fargo, against the protesters' wishes. The student group Reedies Against Racism pitched tents in the offices and hallways of Eliot Hall in October, after demanding that Reed divest immediately from Wells Fargo, listing concerns such as investment in "private prisons," as well as "the Dakota Access Pipeline, the fossil fuel industry, and companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation Crimes."

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: December 15th, 2017

Upcoming Events
IEN Session + Workshop at the 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 21-23, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
  • IEN Principal, Tony Cortese will be leading sessions examining mission-aligned investing, and a post-conference peer learning workshop going deeper into all aspects of aligning ESG goals to the foundation’s mission while meeting the financial and advancement requirements of each institution.
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • The Winter Innovation Summit is the premier cross-industry event in social impact, innovation, and investing. This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. Join us for the latest breakthroughs in social impact, innovation, and investing; ski the greatest snow on Earth; and experience the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
  • Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network are pleased to host the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Join your peers from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona for the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions. 

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. The Gathering represents the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors in impact investing today—and those looking to learn more. Sessions are led by funder-practitioners, investment experts, and other thought leaders.
Responsible Investment Forum New York l Private Equity International, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY
  • Building on the success of the longest-running ESG event in Europe, the Responsible Investment Forum comes to New York for its second year to bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy.
 
New Resources
 
Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century Progress Report l  Principles for Responsible Investment, United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative and The Generation Foundation, December 2017
 

Disclosing the Facts 2017 l  As You Sow, Boston Common Asset Management, and The Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) 

  • This week, As You Sow, Boston Common Asset Management, and The Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) released a 2017 special edition of the Disclosing the Facts (DTF) scorecard. While the annual DTF scorecard has historically addressed oil and gas company management of environmental and community risks from hydraulic fracturing operations, this year’s special edition focuses on the critical risk of methane emissions – a potent contributor to global climate change -- and how companies are managing methane reductions.
Investor Water Toolkit l Ceres
  • The Investor Water Toolkit is the first-ever comprehensive resource to evaluate and act on water risks in investment portfolios. This ‘how-to’ guide includes links to resources, databases, case studies and other tools for all investors to use, from pension funds to endowments to asset managers. The Toolkit was developed in collaboration with more than 40 institutional investors from across the globe and is the ultimate resource on water integration written for investors by investors.
PRI: Investment Consultants Not Taking ESG Issues Into Account l Pensions & Investments
  • Many investment consultants are failing to consider environmental, social and governance issues in their investment advice, warns a report by the Principles for Responsible Investment. The organization said in its report, "Working towards a sustainable financial system: investment consultant services review," that despite consultants advising on the investment practices of trillions of dollars across the globe, many are not taking ESG issues into account. Based on interviews with 22 investment consulting firms and industry experts primarily in the U.K., U.S. and Australia, as well as other data sources, the PRI found three barriers to taking ESG into consideration among consultants: market structure, industry practice, and policy and regulation.

Sustainable Investing at Endowments & Foundations
 
Johns Hopkins University to Divest Holdings in Major Coal Producers l JHU Hub
  • Johns Hopkins University will divest from its separately managed holdings in thermal coal, following a vote from the board of trustees Friday. The board's vote directs the university to stop buying the stocks and bonds of companies that produce coal for electric power as a major part of their business, and to sell from its endowment or other investments any securities it directly owns from those companies, on a schedule that minimizes financial loss. The board decision responds to a student group's divestment proposal and more than two years of campus debate on whether Johns Hopkins should hold securities related to fossil fuels. Scientists have determined that burning those fuels contributes to global climate change.

$16M Invested in Loans Through Kresge Community Finance to Support Community Development Work at CDFIs, DFAs l Kresge News

  • The Kresge Foundation announced today $16 million in impact investments to nine Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and Development Finance Agencies (DFAs) working to expand opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities through an initiative called Kresge Community Finance (KCF). More than 130 organizations submitted proposals for funding, representing more than $280 million in capital requests. The resulting investments from Kresge’s Social Investment Practice pair standardized loans, available for up to 10 years, with equity grants equivalent to 5 percent of the amount of each loan. The grants were made to highlight the need, and difficulty, of these community lenders to raise sufficient equity to grow their lending programs.
  • Barnard College has decided on a set of criteria it will use as it attempts to divest its endowment from companies that dispute climate science and climate change, it said Tuesday. The announcement comes about a year after a Barnard task force recommended the college divest from fossil fuel companies that deny climate science or that try to undermine efforts to mitigate climate change.
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how a group of 225 global investors with $26.3 trillion in assets are ready to name and shame top carbon emitters; Macron's One Planet Summit draws climate pledges; and solar companies ditch public markets.
Callan: More U.S. Asset Owners Incorporating ESG Factors Into Investment Decisions l Pensions & Investments
  • A growing number of U.S. asset owners have incorporated environmental, social and governance factors into their investment decisions since 2013, said Callan Associates' fifth annual ESG survey, released Thursday. Across all plan types, 37% of survey respondents reported incorporating ESG factors into their investment decision-making, up from 22% in 2013, the year the survey was first conducted. On the flip side, 60% of funds said they did not incorporate ESG factors in 2017 and 3% said they were unsure. Since the survey's inception, large plans with $20 billion or more in assets have been the highest adopters of ESG investing. In 2017, 78% of the largest plans reported incorporating ESG factors, up from 71% in 2016 and 33% in 2013. By comparison, 30% of funds with $500 million or less in assets said they incorporated ESG factors, compared to 39% in 2015 and 20% in 2013.
2018 SRI Outlook l Green Money Journal
  • Every December Green Money Journal likes to do an 'Outlook on the Year Ahead' issue. Sure to be on many SRI investor's minds are the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). John Adams of the Arbor Group at UBS recently told  Cliff Feigenbaum, founder of GreenMoney Journal, that they have been expanding their traditional ESG screens to include reviewing companies in comparison to the 17 SDGs. He is finding that an increasing number of large corporations are reporting their actions in reference to the SDGs, which can provide valuable insight into their performance and impact.
Can Index Funds Be a Force for Sustainable Capitalism? l Harvard Busines Review
  • The investment management industry has been highly commoditized. Technology has put pressure on management fees, and this will only continue. Moreover, industry consolidation and scale have led to most funds quasi-indexing, if not explicitly indexing. According to my estimates for every dollar actively managed, either through high turnover diversified portfolios or through low turnover concentrated portfolios, there are three dollars in indexing or quasi-indexing. In such a market there will be tremendous rewards for market participants that can provide a differentiated service. Engaging with companies to promote positive environmental and social outcomes and being able to document the impact of those engagements may well prove to be one of those differentiators.
  • Two hundred thirty-seven companies with a combined market capitalization of over $6.3 trillion have publicly committed to support the Task Force on Climaterelated Financial Disclosures (TCFD). This includes over 150 financial firms, responsible for assets of over $81.7 trillion. The TCFD announced the growing support at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron celebrating the two year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. The Task Force, led by Michael R. Bloomberg and established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which is chaired by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, developed voluntary recommendations on climate-related information that companies should disclose to help investors, lenders, and others make sound financial decisions.
  • Arabesque Asset Management is a relative newcomer to sustainable investing, but the young firm has made a big splash. Steered by Omar Selim, 54, who led the European firm’s 2013 buyout from Barclays(where he was a top banker), Arabesque manages $150 million, including two European quantitative funds that have outperformed their benchmarks. The board is a who’s who of the sustainable universe, including chairman Georg Kell, the founder of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and Barbara Krumsiek, the former CEO of socially responsible powerhouse Calvert Investments, as well as academics with specialties including finance, neuroscience, and computing. Arabesque’s products include a tool called S-Ray, an intelligent database that monitors the sustainability of 7,000 companies around the world, combining some 200 ESG metrics, with news from more than 50,000 sources. (Arabesque charges clients for the product, but makes it free on its website with a three-month delay on the data.)
Passive Fund Providers are Taking an Active Role in ESG l Morningstar
  • In this interview, Morningstar's Jose Garcia Zarate talks with Emma Wall about how passive fund providers have bowed to pressures to engage with ESG issues.
What is Powering the ESG Investing Surge? l Goldman Sachs
  • ESG investing, once a sideline practice, has gone decisively mainstream — and this is creating real opportunities for investors. These opportunities meet the interests of a wide spectrum of clients, from fiduciaries aligning their portfolios with the realities of a rapidly changing world to clients who are increasingly looking to have their investments express their values. In this interview, the World Resources Institute’s President Andrew Steer and Fromer Head of Sustainable Investing Elizabeth Lewis discuss WRI’s objectives and investing approach with Goldman Sachs’ John Goldstein.
UN PRI Toughens Code on Global Members l Reuters
  • The requirements described in recent interviews by leaders of the UK-based Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) include that signatories adopt policies that describe their approach to responsible investing and that top executives oversee the work. Laggards could be delisted starting in 2020. The new rules pose a test for U.S. asset managers led by BlackRock Inc, Vanguard Group and State Street Corp. These firms lately have emphasized ESG factors but some responsible investment activists want them to push for further changes at companies whose shares they hold.
Sustainable Practices Lead to Corporate Profits l Global Finance
  • In this Q&A, Tensie Whelan, director of the Center for Sustainable Business at New York University’s Stern School of Business, talks about the growing bottom-line case for sustainable practices.
Sustainability Is Imperative In Investment Process l ArkETS Media
  • Andrew Parry, head of sustainable investing at Hermes Investment Management, which has £30.8bn ($41bn) in assets, said incorporating sustainability has moved from being an option to becoming an imperative. The comments come from an interview with Jake Moeller, head of Lipper UK and Ireland research at Thomson Reuters, in London last week for the Lipper Alpha Insight podcast.
  • BNP Paribas Securities Services will launch a new platform bringing together investors and organizations committed to offsetting carbon emissions, in its latest environmentally-minded project. The French bank will launch ClimateSeed, which will act as a centralized platform where investors and companies looking to invest in voluntary carbon offsetting projects will be able to connect easily to other projects looking for funding.
  • WA Super has relaunched its Sustainable Future investment option which will focus on investments promoting global change through impact investing. The new investment vehicle would offer a diversified portfolio of high-potential, publicly traded companies whose products and services would be “geared towards solving the world’s biggest social and environmental problems.”
Investment Manager News
 
Hermes Expands ESG Range With Impact Fund l Portfolio Adviser
  • Hermes Investment Management is launching the Hermes Impact Opportunities Strategy to expand its ESG range and increase sustainable investing. The impact fund will be a concentrated, high-conviction global equity portfolio of 25 to 50 securities, typically held over five to 10 years. Hermes’ main objective is to increase prosperity in society through sustainable investing, particularly in companies linked to at least one UN Sustainable Development Goal.
  • This article is a Q&A with Hiromichi Mizuno, chief investment officer of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s biggest manager of retirement savings, in 2014. He has since led a push to increase equity holdings and advocated for incorporating ESG factors into investing.

Shareholder Engagement
 
Why it Makes No Sense to Simply Sell Out of All Fossil Fuels l Financial News
  • A growing number of investors are responding to climate concerns by selling shares in fossil fuel producers. At $5.4tn, the value of portfolios that exclude fossil fuels has doubled in two years, and even voices in the EU Parliament are recommending divestment. The author of this article outlines why they think divesting is not the answer, and describes the benefits of shareholder advocacy.
Give Mutual Fund Investors a Voice in Shareholder Proxy Voting (Opinion) l Market Watch
  • The growth in individual shareholder ownership ironically has created a huge gap in corporate governance and accountability. The ownership of Corporate America lies largely with employees through 401(k) plans and other retirement vehicles, except these same employee-owners cannot and do not have proxy voting rights — these are exercised by the fund providers. Given the size of retail assets that fund managers control — collectively close to $10 trillion — there is a valid concern about their voting practices not reflecting the preferences of the millions of investors in their funds. A typical fund has to vote on hundreds of proxies each year, most of them routine. The voting process is centralized and fairly automated, with default guidelines regarding how the shares are voted. The fund manager conducts analysis only on issues that materially impact a company’s financial or operating performance, and then casts a vote. This article makes the case for increased transparency and ability of shareholders to vote proxies through their managers.
Exxon Agrees to Disclose Climate Risks Under Pressure from Investors l Inside Climate News
  • Under pressure from investors, prosecutors and global regulators, ExxonMobil Corp. agreed on Monday to strengthen its analysis and disclosure of the risks its core oil business faces from climate change and from government efforts to rein in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. That will require Exxon to face squarely the implications of reduced oil demand if the world makes good on the pledges of the Paris climate agreement to cut carbon emissions practically to zero fast enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming. In a one-paragraph filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the oil giant said it would stop resisting motions filed by dissident shareholders seeking this kind of risk disclosure.
Exxon Deal Aside, Tough Proxy Season Looms at U.S. Energy Firms l Reuters
  • Climate activists said on Tuesday they would take a tough shareholder resolution off the table at Exxon Mobil Corp after the company agreed to provide new details about how climate change could affect its business. But top U.S. oil and gas producers may still face dissension at their springtime shareholder meetings as investors look for more of them to provide additional details on a range of climate topics such as greenhouse gas reduction plans.
ESG: The Stewardship Revolution l EuroMoney
  • The 2017 US proxy voting season was historic: the world’s two largest asset managers backed shareholder resolutions on climate-risk disclosure. BlackRock and Vanguard, with $10 trillion in AuM between them, are becoming more transparent about their voting. They will play a crucial role in the future of ESG.

 
 
 
Green Bonds
 
Green Bonds: How to Fund Climate Change Initiatives l The McGill International Review
  • As the OECD’s fourth Green Investment Financing Forum convened in Paris on the 24th and 25th of October 2017, much of the discussion centred around expanding investment in green bonds. Green bonds are financial instruments that account for a growing investment market. With the same risks and returns as regular bonds, they offer a good opportunity to invest in pro-environment projects. In the past couple of years, demand for green investment opportunities has skyrocketed. Forums, similar to that of the OECD, bring public and private banks together to discuss how to bring more investors into green banking. Green bonds provide an opportunity for investors to support climate change initiatives, as well as provide more opportunities for green projects to get off the ground given sufficient financial resources. The advent of green bonds are becoming increasingly important upon the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, and as deadlines to reduce carbon emissions loom closer.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Ceres Joins Forces with Investors and Partner Organizations Worldwide to Launch Climate Action 100+ l Ceres
  • The sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres joined forces with investors and partner organizations worldwide today to help launch a new five-year global initiative led by investors to engage with the largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters in North America and around the world to act on climate change. The effort is backed by more than 225 global investors, including nearly 70 North American investors, with USD $26.3trillion in assets under management at the time of launch.
  • The World Bank will end it’s financial support for oil and gas exploration and production after 2019. In response to the growing threat posed by climate change, the World Bank announced that it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas” after 2019. The world bank has been lending $1 billion a year for oil and gas projects in developing countries (about 1-2% of the company’s $280 billion portfolio), but was under increasing pressure from lobby groups to divest. In addition to ending financial support for upstream oil and gas, the bank announced that 28% of its lending will be allocated to climate action by 2020, as outlined in its Climate Action Plan, developed after the Paris accord. The announcement was made on Tuesday at the international One Planet Summit in France to mark the 2 year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
Investor Pledges, Demands and Criticism as Paris Agreement Turns Two l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • Two years ago today, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius banged a gavel at the COP-21 climate change conference in Paris, signaling a consensus between 196 parties from around the world on addressing climate change. More than 200 global institutional investors have pledged to engage with 100 of the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to get them to curb emissions. The investors will ask companies to take action to reduce emissions across their value chain, consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global average temperature increases to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters like those in East Liverpool. The Times built a database of civil cases filed at the E.P.A. during the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations. During the first nine months under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the E.P.A. started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under President Barack Obama’s first E.P.A. director and about one-quarter fewer than under President George W. Bush’s over the same time period.
Climate Risk Disclosure Comes of Age l The Fifth Estate 
  • According to this article, Companies’ disclosure of business risks from climate change could become mandatory in a few years as pressure from investors gathers pace.
  • House and Senate negotiators have agreed to spare the electric-vehicle tax credit and wind production tax credit in their compromise package, according to a Republican familiar with the process. As part of the $1.5 trillion House tax bill, the $7,500 electric-vehicle tax credit would have been eliminated and a the wind production tax credit would have been curtailed. The Senate bill didn’t do either, and that is part of the package set for release, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing the details before the bill is unveiled.
  • Lawrence Linden and Robert Litterman have supported many AAAS initiatives through their personal giving. They recently talked with Juli Staiano, AAAS’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, and Caitlin Jennings, the Web Content Manager for AAAS MemberCentral, about why they give back to science. This transcript has been edited for clarity and concision.
Boston University Trustees Approve Aggressive Climate Action Plan l BU Today
  • The Boston University Board of Trustees approved a Climate Action Plan on Thursday that will dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions across both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus and fund broad infrastructure improvements in preparation for flooding or heat surges in the coming decades. The board voted overwhelmingly to adopt the plan, which includes capital improvements estimated to cost about $141 million over 10 years. The plan is the result of a yearlong analysis by the University’s Climate Action Task Force, an 18-member group of faculty, staff, and students.
To Save Climate, Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels: Economists l Manila Bulletin
  • The development of oil, gas, and coal energy must stop in order to avoid the worst ravages of global warming, 80 top economists said Thursday ahead of a climate summit in Paris. “We call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy,” they wrote in a declaration. The December 12 One Planet Summit organized by French President Emmanuel Macron – with 100 countries and more than 50 heads of state attending – will focus on marshaling public and private money to speed the transition toward a low-carbon economy, especially in developing countries. But boosting renewable energy such as solar and wind is not enough, the economists warned. “President Macron and world leaders have already spoken out about the need for an increase in finance for climate solutions,” they wrote. “But they have remained largely silent about the other, dirtier side of the equation: the ongoing finance of new coal, oil and gas production.” Many new fossil fuel projects already in the pipeline “will need to be phased out faster than their natural decline,” they added.
Industry Opposition Leads ALEC to Withdraw Anti-Climate Resolution l Think Progress
  • A secretive right-wing lobbying group failed to pass a resolution this week that called upon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its 2009 finding that greenhouse gases are endangering the planet. Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force discussed the resolution at a summit in Nashville on Wednesday. Its backers wanted to send a strong message that they oppose the EPA’s so-called Endangerment Finding, which essentially compels the agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as dangerous pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Credit Ratings Giant: Coal Still in Jeopardy Even After Trump's Exit From Paris Deal l Washington Examiner
  • Credit-rating giant Moody's is not convinced that President Trump's exit from the Paris climate change agreement and his rollback of Obama-era climate regulations will completely insulate coal power plants and coal mines from efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Moody's released the results of a new climate risk assessment for power plants on Tuesday that shows coal assets are at particular risk of closing, despite changes in U.S. policy under Trump.
 
 
 
General Endowment News
 
From a Record Endowment to Funding Threats, Here's What Happened to Penn's Finances in 2017 l The Daily Pennsylvanian
  • In 2017, the University’s endowment reached an all-time high, making it one of the best years for investment returns in Penn’s history. While experts say this spike in returns will have little impact on University spending, the controversy that erupted over a series of leaked documents known as "The Paradise Papers" in November placed the financial maneuvering of various elite universities in the spotlight — Penn included.  Now in December, the University continues to face many unanswered questions about its investments and how they will hold up against shifting federal guidelines. To understand how Penn is moving into 2018 as a financial entity, this article provides a guide to the year’s most important milestones in University finances.
How the GOP Tax Plan Could Hurt Private Universities l Houston Chronicle
  • This article discusses how, for higher education, there is virtually nothing good in this tax legislation, but that doesn't mean that everything that adversely affects us is wrong or an inappropriate part of a larger bill. It outlines at least two distasteful provisions that our representatives and senators should remove before the bill becomes law.
Harvard Endowment Chief Pushed for Steeper Devaluation of Assets l Wall Street Journal
  • The new chief of Harvard University’s endowment pushed to slash the value of some investments last year, dragging down returns, and people familiar with the matter said he would have cut deeper except for pushback from other board members.
 
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
How Bill McKibben’s Radical Idea of Fossil-Fuel Divestment Transformed the Climate Debate l The Conversation
  • Exhibiting a phenomenon in the social sciences called the “radical flank effect,” McKibben and 350.org have dramatically altered the climate change debate in the United States. The authors of this article used text analytics software to sift through 42,000 news articles about climate change between 2011 and 2015 and map the influence of the radical flank. They found that the divestment campaign expanded rapidly as a topic in worldwide media. In the process, it disrupted what had become a polarized debate and reframed the conflict by redrawing moral lines around acceptable behavior. The researcher's evidence suggests this shift enabled previously marginal policy ideas such as a carbon tax and carbon budget to gain greater traction in the debate. It also helped translate McKibben’s radical position into new issues like “stranded assets” and “unburnable carbon,” the idea that existing fossil fuel resources should remain in the ground.
  • This article discusses the findings of a group of researchers at the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo. They recently conducted an analysis that suggests divestment announcements have a statistically significant negative impact on the price of fossil fuel shares. The study aggregates the impact of more than 20 announcements across 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. The results suggest that share prices dropped on the days that institutional investors announced they were divesting of fossil fuels.
Calls for Greater Fossil Fuel Divestment at Anniversary of Paris Climate Deal l The Guardian
  • Campaigners call for an end to fossil fuel finance and subsidies to avoid dangerous global warming at a meeting to mark two years since the signing of the landmark agreement.
  • The divestment of all petroleum companies would be a momentous change for Norway’s $1tn investment fund, itself fuelled by the country’s oil and gas revenues. But the recommendation last month from the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund that it sell its oil and gas stocks is forcing top Norwegian policymakers to grapple with the question of what the fund and the country wants to stand for.The oil fund’s advice for it to be allowed to sell out of petroleum stocks was grounded not in climate change arguments but financial ones. The fund’s own research found it could reduce Norway’s sensitivity to oil prices by selling petroleum stocks, without reducing returns. 
  • A group of 100 MPS, including Labour's Jeremy Corbyn and the the Green Party's Caroline Lucas, have called for a £612m pension fund to divest from fossil fuels, while leading chief financial officers have endorsed the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
  • In this opinion a piece, a current AU student discusses how, if the U.S. won’t make climate change a priority, it is even more important and immediate for American University to invest in the environment., and understand how our small activities affect the overall picture.
Fossil Free Yale, Local 33 rally outside Woodbridge l Yale News
  • Forty members of Fossil Free Yale and graduate student union Local 33 demanded that Yale disclose its fossil fuel investments and divest from fossil fuel at a protest outside Woodbridge Hall Friday afternoon. Representatives from the two groups delivered signatures from more than 1,000 Yale community members to University President Peter Salovey’s office. In addition to demanding that the University disclose investments and divest from fossil fuels, FFY and Local 33 called on Yale to make environmentally sustainable investments and sign the “We are Still In” declaration. Signatories of the declaration commit to the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and denounce President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the accord.
Insurance Giant Axa Dumps Investments in Tar Sands Pipelines l The Guardian
  • One of the world’s biggest financial services companies is both dumping investments and ending insurance for controversial US oil pipelines, taking fossil fuel divestment to a new level. Axa is also quadrupling its divestment from coal businesses and increasing its green investments fivefold by 2020. The moves were announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris, called by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to accelerate the use of global finance in fighting climate change.
Pacific North West College Divestment Update 2017 l 350 PDX
  • This article outlines fossil fuel divestment updates in the Portland, Oregon area.
Twenty Companies Join Nations Planning Coal Phase Out l Euro News
  • About 20 companies including Unilever, EDF and Iberdrola joined an international alliance of 26 nations on Tuesday pledging to phase out coal to combat global warming. At a climate summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, new members of the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” agreed that traditional coal power should be phased out by 2030 in rich nations and by 2050 in other parts of the world.

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: December 8th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: Understanding & Applying Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments l The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), December 12, 2017, 10:30 - 11:30 EST 
  • As institutional investors, among others, begin to explore opportunities in impact investing, they often question the ability of impact investments to generate strong financial returns. On this webinar, co-hosted by the GIIN Research Team and the GIIN Initiative for Institutional Impact Investment, participants will hear key findings from a new report, GIIN Perspectives: Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments, which synthesizes available data across asset classes, namely private equity, private debt, and real assets, and individual portfolios to address this knowledge gap. Speakers will discuss the implications of this body of research for the industry as well as key considerations in developing a balanced portfolio.
IEN Session + Workshop at the 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 21-23, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
  • IEN Principal, Tony Cortese will be leading sessions examining mission-aligned investing, and a post-conference peer learning workshop going deeper into all aspects of aligning ESG goals to the foundation’s mission while meeting the financial and advancement requirements of each institution.
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • The Winter Innovation Summit is the premier cross-industry event in social impact, innovation, and investing. This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. Join us for the latest breakthroughs in social impact, innovation, and investing; ski the greatest snow on Earth; and experience the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
  • Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network are pleased to host the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Join your peers from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona for the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions. 

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. The Gathering represents the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors in impact investing today—and those looking to learn more. Sessions are led by funder-practitioners, investment experts, and other thought leaders.
 
New Reports
 
  • Investment consultants advise on the investment practices of trillions of dollars worldwide. They are a recognized source of authority and knowledge. However, most consultants and their asset owner clients are failing to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in investment practice – despite a growing evidence base that demonstrates the financial materiality of ESG issues to portfolio value. The report sets out these barriers in detail and identifies a set of preliminary interventions that the PRI will develop over the coming months.
 
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments and Foundations
 
  • Roy Swan was named director of the Ford Foundation's mission-related investments team, said a foundation news release. It is a new position. In April, the New York-based foundation announced it would be allocating up to $1 billion of its $12 billion endowment to mission-related investments over the next 10 years, with affordable housing in the U.S. and access to financial services in emerging markets serving as two initial areas of focus. Since that time, $40 million has already been allocated, a foundation spokeswoman said in an email. 
  • “Fossil fuel divestment is both ethically and fiscally responsible,” said John A. Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and one of Ray’s five grandchildren. “Investment has consequences, and we intend for our assets to grow by fueling renewable energy and other clean technologies that will combat climate change.” The Foundation believes that divestment is not only ethically responsible, but “also fiscally responsible,” according to a statement. By divesting, the Foundation is not “exposed to the risk of a significant decline in the value of fossil fuel companies.”
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

 
Bloomberg Briefs l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how U.S. clean energy developer shares dropped this week as the Senate tax bill threatens to erode the $12 billion tax-equity financing market for wind and solar; Corporate boards are ignoring the risks of sexual harassment says Pax World CEO Joe Keefe; and sustainability disclosure still mostly boilerplate: SASB.
  • This story profiles Brown Advisory - the $1.1 billion manager devoted to sustainable investing strategies.
  • In this article the author discusses some of the reasons she's heard for not talking about gender — and why she thinks talking about gender matters.
  • Regulation is one of the risks that investors should be aware of when investing in environmental-focused listed equities, according to Bruce Jenkyn-Jones, London-based co-head of listed equities and senior portfolio manager at Impax Asset Management.
Impact Investing in Fisheries Evolving Slowly But Surely l Seafood Source
  • A movement in impact investing seeks to fund efforts by improving fisheries management, gathering reliable data, controlling overfishing, and reducing bycatch and waste, all while protecting artisanal fishers from losing their livelihoods.  Projects aimed at these goals have been funded with grants from governments and government-supported organizations, and from private foundations. In the past few years, to bring more capital to the challenge, and create a financially stable business model that is not dependent on unpredictable short-term infusions of grant money, the field of “impact investing for sustainable fisheries” has been developed.
  • For investors, assessing water risk should be part of a disciplined investment regime, says Monika Freyman, Ceres director of investor engagement in water. The Boston-based non-profit organization works with institutional investors to explain environmentally sustainable investments and is launching a “tool kit” to help investors understand their exposure to water risk. After deep discussions with nearly 90 institutional investors (managing $6 trillion) three themes emerged: there was a lack of data and public disclosure regarding water risk, most people were not aware of the problem, as documented by a lack of client demand, and there was no clear method to “invest” in water. The goal of the website and toolkit is not so much to show institutional investors how to invest in water – it is difficult and complex – but rather to illustrate how water risk might impact their individual equity, municipal bond and other private equity exposures.
Investment Manager News
 
  • Aniket Shah was named head of sustainable investing at OppenheimerFunds, spokesman Patrick Phalon said. The position is new. Mr. Shah will work with OppenheimerFunds' portfolio managers and investment strategy specialists to further integrate sustainable investing practices across the firm's business activities. He will report to Sharon French, head of beta solutions.
UBS Poaches for Impact Investing l FI News Asia
  • UBS is bulking up its sustainable money management with several key hires, finews.asia has learned. This article details who the new hires are.
  • Following on from its global offering, BetaShares has launched an exchange-traded fund targeting ASX companies meeting specific sustainability criteria. The BetaShares Australian Sustainability ETF, traded under the ticker code FAIR, screens out ASX stocks engaged in the fossil fuel industry as well as "gambling, tobacco, armaments, uranium and nuclear energy, destruction of valuable environments, animal cruelty, chemicals of concern, mandatory detention of asylum seekers, alcohol, junk foods, pornography, human rights and supply chain concerns and payday lending."
Shareholder Engagement
 
Shareholders Should Help Deliver Decarbonization l Financial Times
  • In this letter to the editor, the author describes how shareholders have powerful levers they can pull; whether through robust dialogue with company directors; voting against directors that fail to act and/or auditors that fail to challenge management on shareholders’ behalf; or publicly speaking out to demand changes to strategy.
General Endowments News
 
The GOP Tax Bill Will Hurt U.S. Universities l Politico
  • TheTax Cut and Jobs Act takes the unprecedented step of taxing the income of certain private universities—specifically, it imposes a 1.4 percent tax on net endowment income for universities with endowments larger than $250,000 per full-time student.
University Endowments in the Crosshairs l Washington Examiner
  • The U.S. has the greatest university system in the world. But it’s expensive. And Congress is about to make matters worse by taxing the endowment earning of “large” private college and university endowments. The latest congressional proposal aims to slap a 1.4 percent excise tax on the net investment income of any private university with an endowment of more than $250,000 per full-time student, about 70 universities.
Texas Endowment Wants ‘Fair and Just’ Fees and Hedge Funds Are Complying l Bloomberg
  • The University of Texas Investment Management Co. is trying to change how its hedge fund managers are paid using a model known as 1-or-30 which charges a 1 percent management fee or 30 percent of performance -- whichever is higher. The plan, begun in recent months, follows a similar effort started last year by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Leading Economists Demand that Not a Penny More Goes to Fossil Fuels l Common Dreams
  • Over 80 world-renowned economists from 20 countries have issued a declaration demanding that not a penny more is spent on fossil fuels production and projects, while encouraging a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy, ahead of President Macron’s international summit on climate finance. On December 12, two years after the Paris Climate Agreement passed, President Macron of France is presiding over the One World summit, which will focus on the mobilization of climate finance. Unfortunately, despite the promises made two years ago, many governments, public and private financial institutions continue to invest in fossil fuels. These projects are bad for the planet, bad for people, and bad for the economy.
Fossil Free Penn Wraps up a Semester of Activism With no Policy Changes But Plenty of Hope l The Daily Pennsylvanian
  • Three years after its founding, Fossil Free Penn has solidified itself as a campus organization pushing for University divestment from fossil fuels. But despite a diversified array of efforts to sway the administration, Penn has not budged since FFP's launch in 2014. After another rejection of its open letter to the University in June, FFP officially decided to rebrand. The group began the semester with a rally and reached out to the Board of Trustees again. Despite Cohen's reiteration of the University's decision, FFP members have continued to protest at Board of Trustees meetings and focus on expanding the group's membership. 
  • On Wednesday evening, Stanford in Government (SIG) hosted its first Stanford Student Debate Night on the topic of fossil fuel divestment. Representatives from the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) and Fossil Free Stanford (FFS) debated for nearly an hour before answering questions from an audience of over 200. Stanford College Republicans was represented by John Rice-Cameron ’20 and Ben Esposito ’21, while Fossil Free Stanford was represented by Rebecca Behrens ’19 and Justin Wilck ’20.
NYU Divest Halts Demonstration After NYU Administration Reveals They Dropped Investments in Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy l NYU Local
  • NYU Divest suspended their occupation of the Bobst executive elevator on Friday evening after it was revealed NYU had already satisfied one of their major demands. As reported by NYU Local, NYU Divest occupied the elevator, demanding that the NYU Board of Trustees divest from Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy. But the morning of their protest, Martin Dorph, CFO of NYU, delivered a letter stating that NYU had already dropped these investments.
Fossil Free Notre Dame Prepares Proposal for Office of Investment l The Observer
  • In the past, Fossil Free ND has resorted to standard activism and peaceful protest behavior, such as petitioning and rallying on campus. This proposal, club member and junior Adam Wiechman said, marks a change for the group — which is now working through institutional means and with Notre Dame’s Chief Investment Officer, Scott Malpass. The proposal is still in its final stages, but will be sent to the Investment Office within the next few weeks, Wiechman said. Club member and senior Carolyn Yvellez said the Investment Office holds the ability to help the University take a stronger stance against fossil fuel companies. While the Investment Office abides by investment guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Yvellez said these guidelines are relatively loose and haven’t been updated recently.
Group Urges Salem State University Divest From Fossil Fuels l North of Boston
  • Salem State University Board of Trustees said no to a five-year plan for fossil fuel divestment, and no to financial divestment from companies involved in fossil fuels extraction, as of Wednesday, Nov. 28. The trustees held their final November meeting - to discuss not just matters of importance to the university - but also issues of fossil fuel divestment.
McGill Association of University Teachers Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuels l McGill Tribune
  • The McGill Association of University Teachers’ (MAUT) Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels, moving approximately $500,000 out of its investment portfolios which include holdings in fossil fuel companies. The MAUT also passed a motion by a vote of 13-3 calling on McGill’s Board of Governors (BoG) to follow suit with the university’s endowment and pension fund.

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: December 1st, 2017

New IEN Member
Upcoming Events

Sustainable Food Systems: Investment Risks & Opportunities l FAIRR Initiative, December 7, 2017, 4:15-5:45pm, New York, NY

  • The food system is under increasing pressure due to population increases and demographic shifts. Rising demand for meat is linked to a range of investment risks from deforestation, water and air pollution, to cancer, antibiotic resistance and obesity. The event will be a forum for investors to understand and discuss strategies to address the material risks and opportunities presented by protein production, and to share questions with experts in the field.   

RI Americas 2017 l Responsible Investor, December 6-7, 2017, New York, NY

  • The topics and themes for the RI Americas 2017 agenda are based around demonstrating sustainability risk and return implications for investors in the light of finding solutions to the major ESG problems of our time including: What the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations mean for corporate and investor reporting, investment strategy, and climate solutions, Disruptive initiatives like the World Benchmarking Alliance, and more.
Webinar: Understanding & Applying Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments l The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), December 12, 2017, 10:30 - 11:30 EST 
  • As institutional investors, among others, begin to explore opportunities in impact investing, they often question the ability of impact investments to generate strong financial returns. On this webinar, co-hosted by the GIIN Research Team and the GIIN Initiative for Institutional Impact Investment, participants will hear key findings from a new report, GIIN Perspectives: Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments, which synthesizes available data across asset classes, namely private equity, private debt, and real assets, and individual portfolios to address this knowledge gap. Speakers will discuss the implications of this body of research for the industry as well as key considerations in developing a balanced portfolio.
IEN Session + Workshop at the 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 21-23, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
  • IEN Principal, Tony Cortese will be leading sessions examining mission-aligned investing, and a post-conference peer learning workshop going deeper into all aspects of aligning ESG goals to the foundation’s mission while meeting the financial and advancement requirements of each institution.
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • The Winter Innovation Summit is the premier cross-industry event in social impact, innovation, and investing. This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. Join us for the latest breakthroughs in social impact, innovation, and investing; ski the greatest snow on Earth; and experience the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
  • Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network are pleased to host the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Join your peers from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona for the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions. 

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. The Gathering represents the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors in impact investing today—and those looking to learn more. Sessions are led by funder-practitioners, investment experts, and other thought leaders.
Sustainable Investing at Endowments
 

Financial Report Shows Northeastern University is 'Poised for Investing in Our Future' l News at Northeastern

  • Northeastern is “poised for investing in our future,” Tom Nedell, university treasurer and senior vice president for finance, told members of the Faculty Senate on Wednesday. Nedell emphasized the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability, noting the university’s decision to direct $25 million of its endowment to investments with a focus on sustainability, including clean energy, renewables, green building, and sustainable water and agriculture. The university indicated in July 2016 that it would complete that goal in five years. To date, less than two years later, it already has invested $18 million into sustainable funds.
This Class at Brown University is an Object Lesson in Sustainable Investing l Green Biz
  • Concentrated stock portfolios continue to outperform significantly when combining sustainability and financial criteria. That's the major blinking-in-very-large-neon-lights headline from the portfolios our students at Brown University have been constructing in our classes on sustainable investing. Inspired by the student-run club at Brown University on socially responsible investing (or Brown SRIF), its own financially outperforming portfolio is available on their Facebook page. Our sustainable investing class began in spring 2016 and was the outcome of the divestment movement on campus in 2013, leading to university president Christina Paxson’s desire to do what Brown can to research, teach and invest in a positive way. Her letter to the Brown community in October 2013 was thoughtful and laid out what continues to be an unfolding strategy. A taskforce is meeting to consider further steps that the university might make in this regard, which is exciting to see.
  • The University, sitting on an endowment of $3.5 billion each year, invests at least $26 million of that into an offshore fossil fuel fund, according to information the University released to the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition in February 2016. After several protests against Pitt’s controversial investments in the fossil fuel industry, the University is creating a socially responsible investing ad hoc committee. The ad hoc committee will focus on changing Pitt’s investment priorities.
 
 
New Reports

  • Corporations have far-reaching impacts on society and economic growth through the decisions they make about their employees, products and services, operations and management practices. By considering implications of those choices on inclusive growth, corporations can contribute to economic gains that are broad-based and sustainable over time, while achieving business benefits through new market opportunities, reduced costs and enhanced investor interest.
Death of Diesel: A Scenario Analysis OF Which Automakers Will Pay Higher Emissions Fines l MSCI
  • Regulators are considering banning diesel cars in various countries and cities to lower levels of toxic nitrogen oxides. This trend has already impacted auto markets in Europe. Declining diesel vehicle sales reflect a shrinking trust in customers who fear increased restrictions on use and lower resale values.  This analysis assumed a moderate 30% decline in diesel vehicles in a company’s fleet by 2021 and modeled two different scenarios. Under scenario 1, customers buy petrol models in place of diesel models of the same carmaker. Under scenario 2, customers buy petrol models and vehicles with alternative drives instead of diesel models. We projected future fleet emissions based on fuel efficiency improvements in diesel and petrol fleets of the three previous years.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Crane Board Chair, Natasha Lamb, Named one of 2017's Top 50 Most Influential l IEN Blog
  • Natasha Lamb, Chair of the Board of The Crane Institute of Sustainability -- the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is home to the Intentional Endowments Network -- has been named one of 2017's Top 50 Most Influential People by Bloomberg Businessweek. Visit the Bloomberg Top 50 to read more about this honor and watch a video featuring Natasha and the other changemakers helping to shape our society. 
What It’s Like to Be a Sustainable Investor Under Trump l Bloomberg
  • This article ontains interviews from several investors who focus on ESG  matters about their insights into how the U.S. administration is affecting their strategies.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how French bank BNP Paribas said it will stop funding and advising tobacco companies over health concerns; solar capacity in developing nations surged last year; and plastic recycling faces challenging economics.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • Last week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how Norway's $1 trillion wealth fund proposed divesting oil and gas stocks; Big data could bring upside for renewables; and energy storage market seen taking off.
How Companies Are Pushing Ahead on Climate-Change Targets l Wall Street Journal
  • More of the world’s biggest corporations are taking the fight against climate change into their own hands, aiming to cut their energy costs, pre-empt regulation or burnish their reputations with investors and customers. Only 14% of the companies in the CDP study have committed to emissions-cutting goals that align with the U.N. target—an effort backed by the World Resources Institute—although another 30% have vowed to set such targets in the next two years. Some companies have resisted the trend. According to the CDP’s survey, the natural-resource and financial sectors have the greatest number of companies with no targets at all.
MythBusters: Further Proof That Impact Investments Reap Healthy Returns l Forbes
  • More evidence pointing to the potential for impact investors to make healthy returns from their investments. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) just came out with a report reviewing available research on the financial performance of impact investments. Its conclusion: Across private market strategies, such as private equity, fixed income and real assets, the distribution of impact investing fund returns is similar to results for conventional markets.
Zurich Plans $5 Billion Allocation to Impact Investments l Bloomberg
  • Zurich Insurance Group AG plans to more than double its allocation to impact investments, earmarking $5 billion for a broader range of assets after devoting $2 billion to green bonds in recent years. While it didn’t specify a period, Zurich plans to buy bonds that finance social projects and the sustainable use of resources, as well as investments in private equity geared to these goals, Switzerland’s biggest insurer said in a statement on Thursday. The allocation represents about 2.6 percent of Zurich’s $190 billion portfolio, mainly consisting of debt securities.
Socially Responsible Investing: The Next Paradigm for Businesses l Live Minted
  • According to this article, the need of the hour is to start the process of moving towards sustainable investing practices and being socially responsible, instead of a knee-jerk reaction when regulatory compliance becomes mandatory. Corporates need to be at the helm of implementing policies in the true spirit and being transparent in disclosing their actions.
Societe Generale Securities Services launches ESG Reporting l Wealth Advisor
  • Societe Generale Securities Services (SGSS) has launched a new service for its clients – ESG Reporting – a system to gauge investment strategies’ impact on the environment and the society. The new ESG reporting solution allows institutional investors and asset managers to rate their investments against a broad set of ESG indicators using MSCI data and methodology. These indicators include criteria, such as CO2 emissions, board composition, and executives’ salary as well as workforce management and producer responsibility.
Sustainable Investment Joins the Mainstream l The Economist
  • The US Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, a lobby group, estimates that more than a fifth ($8.7trn) of the funds under professional management in America is screened on SRI criteria, broadly defined, up from a ninth in 2012 (see chart). Growing demand has spurred Wall Street into action. Goldman Sachs now manages $10.5bn in assets dedicated to “ESG” (ie, meeting environmental, social and governance criteria) and a further $70bn in “negatively screened” assets that exclude the manifestly unvirtuous. This generational change is already visible at universities. Under pressure from students and alumni, several endowments have promised to clean up their investment portfolios. Business schools say classes related to ESG investment are oversubscribed. 
Green Firm Impax Eyes Post-Merger Future l Institutional Investor
  • In this year’s flurry of fund firm mergers, the proposal to combine the U.K.’s Impax Asset Management with U.S. peer Pax World Management, has been under the radar for many investors. But, once complete, the newly combined business will be handling some £10.3 billion ($13.4 billion) in assets, all in dedicated sustainable investment mandates. On Wednesday, the U.K. business is to publish its results to the London Stock Exchange. Chief executive Ian Simm is hoping to give shareholders an update on the merger’s progress, which he wants to close before the end of February 2018, Simm told Institutional Investor in an interview.
Where is the S in ESG Investing? l Financial Times
  • The Economist magazine published a piece in September that pointed to the increased consideration of environmental, social and governance factors in mainstream investing. The piece noted correctly that, for a variety of reasons, including ease of measurement, the E- and G-factors have gained more traction than the S-factor, which is often associated with employment rights. However, it is evident from recent events that mainstream investors would be unwise to discount the impact of S-factors on company performance strictly because of measurement difficulties.
CIBC Asset Management Becomes a Signatory of the United Nations-Supported Principles for Responsible Investment l Market Insider
  • CIBC Asset Management Inc. announced this week it has become a signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The PRI is the world's leading proponent of responsible investment, bringing together a global network of asset owners, investment managers and service providers. They are committed to integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into their investment practices, analysis and decision-making processes.
New ETF Joins Fight Against Sexual Harassment in Workplace l U.S. News
  • A new exchange-traded fund is being introduced for investors who want their money kept far away from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Impact Shares YWCA Women's Empowerment ETF is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2018, and enable people to invest with companies that promote women's interests and take strong stands against workplace harassment. "When women thrive, whole economies thrive," said Dorri McWhorter, chief executive of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.
Commentary: Active Investing v.2.0 l Pensions & Investments
  • A wave of change is coming to the asset management industry, which at its core has not materially changed its practices, processes, and approach over the past decades. Still, a portfolio manager is in control of vast amounts of assets, following investment approaches that utilize financial information that is now standardized, common and well understood by most market actors. It should not be surprising then that long-term alpha generation has become so much more difficult. How can managers differentiate themselves and ensure they are on the winning side of the equation? This article explores three forces the authors see acting as catalysts: integrating ESG data, utilizing technological advancement, and being transparent and representing beneficiaries' preferences.
  • Millennials are increasingly interested in sustainable investing and in many cases are instilling their social and environmental values in their parents. These are two of the more recent trends observed by Matthew Koch, executive director of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and his colleague, head of research Nathan Lim. Koch's team manages about $1.5 billion on behalf of 55 wealthy clients – typically with between $5 million and $150 million of investable assets – and as those clients increasingly introduce their offspring to the global investment bank, investment shifts are starting to occur.
  • Investors and boards of listed companies are neither friends nor foes, but their interests align in differing ways over time, and this requires an array of engagement approaches to achieve desired outcomes. This is the conclusion of a panel of engagement experts speaking at the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) annual conference in Sydney. Michael Jantzi, CEO of Sustainalytics noted that he thinks of engagement as a toolbox of various tools, and that those tools have been deployed in successful ways recently.
Interview with Eva Halvarsson, Chief Executive Officer, AP2 l Climate Action
  • Climate Action caught up with Eva Halvarsson, Chief Executive Officer, Second Swedish National Pension Fund (AP2), on scaling up low carbon investment and her participation in the first Sustainable Investment Forum Europe.
FTSE Russell Launches Two New Index Series To Support ESG Integration Into Passive Investment l Mondo Visione
  • FTSE Russell, the global index, analytics and data provider, announces the expansion of its Sustainable Investment index offering with the launch of the FTSE Global Climate Index Series and the FTSE ESG Index Series. The new index series build on the launch of the award-winning FTSE All-World ex CW Climate Balanced Factor Index, the first FTSE Russell index to combine a smart beta factor approach alongside climate change considerations.
Real Estate 
Real Estate’s Growing Commitment to Sustainability l The Investor JLL
  • The global real estate industry continues to make significant advances in its sustainability performance, according to GRESB’s latest survey results. The 2017 GRESB Real Estate Assessment – which featured 850 real estate entities across 62 countries – gauged the ESG performance of participating organizations. The sector’s average score this year rose to 63, up three points on the 2016 results, with participants reducing their “like-for-like” energy consumption by 1.1percent, carbon emissions by 2.2 percent, and water consumption by 0.5 percent.
  • Toyota Financial Services (TFS) issued its first-ever euro-denominated unsecured Green Bond today, expanding its industry-leading commitment to the sale of environmentally friendly vehicles.  The €600 million bond will be used to fund the acquisition of new retail finance contracts and beneficial interests in lease contracts for Toyota and Lexus vehicles that meet specific clean air criteria, including powertrain, fuel efficiency and emissions.  There are currently nine vehicles in the Toyota and Lexus lineup that qualify. 
Supply Chain Management
 
  • US clothing importers are cleaning up their sourcing acts largely in response to investor choices, with some 85% of institutional investors saying that nonfinancial information is critical to their buy decisions. Investors are also aware that spending decisions are also undergoing a generational shift, with ageing baby boomers transferring some US$30 trillion in wealth to more socially and environmentally conscious millennials.
 
 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
We Are Still In and We're More Committed than Ever l Forbes
  • In this piece by Ceres President Mindy Lubber, she describes how and why, now that COP23 has concluded, she is grounded in a renewed affirmation of where we stand -- as both Americans and as global citizens -- and is more energized than ever to move faster and more boldly into the future.
Shell, to Cut Carbon Output, Will Be Less of an Oil Company l The New York Times
  • Bowing to pressure from shareholders and the Paris international climate accord, Royal Dutch Shell pledged on Tuesday to increase its investment in renewable fuels and to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2050. Shell and other big oil companies have moved only sporadically over the last decade toward greater production of wind and solar energy. Now there are signs of a commitment to take climate change more seriously. In comments to investors, Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, said that from 2018 to 2020, the company’s new-energies division would spend up to $2 billion a year on renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydrogen power and on electric-car charging stations.
Who Will Pay For Nature? How To Catalyze Private Investment In Sustainability l Forbes
  • As more and more world leaders call for action on climate change, a difficult challenge arises: How do we pay for it?It will take an estimated $5-7 trillion per year over the next 15 years to solve climate change and to meet the other U.N. Sustainable Development Goals ("SDGs"), from ending extreme poverty to ensuring clean water and sanitation for all. That’s a staggering amount of money. Annual government grants today only punch in at $142.6 billion. Philanthropy produces about $400 billion per year in the U.S., though only a small percentage of this goes to environment or sustainability issues. That leaves a huge financing gap. Closing that gap is likely the most important thing an environmental CEO can focus on.
  • November 4th marked one year since the Paris Agreement, which seeks to implement measures against climate change, took effect. A range of measures are steadily being implemented at a pace almost unthinkable two years ago, when the agreement was adopted. The United Nations’ adoption of economic, social and environmental sustainability targets just before the agreement was reached also seems to have had a positive impact. This article contains interviews with three people plugged into the business world to get their take.
How Companies Are Pushing Ahead on Climate-Change Targets l The Wall Street Jounral
  • Among just over 1,000 of the world’s biggest publicly listed companies, accounting for about 12% of total greenhouse-gas emissions, 89% have plans to cut those emissions, according to a survey from the CDP, a nonprofit platform for corporate environmental disclosures. That is a 16 percentage-point increase since 2011, said the CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. Earlier this month, a group led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown presented a climate pledge under which 1,400 businesses have set emissions-reduction targets. This article explores more business that are setting goals and cutting their own carbon emissions.
The Energy 202: Trump Expected to Sign Bill Calling Climate Change a "Direct Threat." l The Washington Post
  • Since taking office, President Trump has failed to make good on some high-profile campaign promises, such as appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton and banning all Muslims from entering the country (not from lack of trying, however). But one area in which Trump has achieved tangible success is slashing energy and environmental regulations. Trump said he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and he began doing so. He said he would undo the Clean Power Plan and other Obama administration rules, and he began doing that, too. So it may come as a surprise to hear that before the end of the year, Trump is expected to sign a bill saying that “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States.”
Moody's Warns Cities to Address Climate Risks or Face Downgrades l Bloomberg

 

  • Coastal communities from Maine to California have been put on notice from one of the top credit rating agencies: Start preparing for climate change or risk losing access to cheap credit. In a report to its clients Tuesday, Moody’s Investors Service Inc. explained how it incorporates climate change into its credit ratings for state and local bonds. If cities and states don’t deal with risks from surging seas or intense storms, they are at greater risk of default.

 

  • Technology and big data will change how electric grids are organized and water is transported, creating upside for sustainable investors that may not be priced in today, says Lara Banks, a managing director at Makena Capital Management, which oversees about $19 billion. Banks, who oversees portfolio management and manager selection for natural resources at the Menlo Park, California-based firm spoke to Emily Chasan on Nov. 6. Comments have been edited and condensed.
Cargill’s Solar Investment Strengthens Cocoa Production in Ghana l Food Ingredients First
  • Cargill has taken steps to modernize renewable energy infrastructure in Ghana by investing in innovative solar energy at a plant in the West African country.  By investing in renewable energy, Cargill says it is living up to its responsibility to find ways to continuously decrease the environmental impact of its businesses.
 General Endowment News
 
To Tax Or Not To Tax University Endowments l NPR
  • In this interview, NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to Grinnell College President Raynard Kington about the proposed excise tax on endowment income. The small Iowa school has a very large endowment.
University of Buffalo Foundation Invests in Fracking as UB Talks Sustainability l Buffalo News
  • The University at Buffalo Foundation used an offshore fund to invest in fracking and fossil fuels, even as university officials sought to portray UB as a national leader in climate-change and sustainability research. The foundation invested through EnCap Flatrock Midstream, a venture capital firm that focuses solely on North American oil and gas extraction and production. The foundation, a private entity that manages contributions on behalf of the public university, had investments totaling more than $940 million in 2016-17, although it's not clear how much of that was in the fossil fuel industry.
Harvard Moves to Outsource Real Estate Management to Bain Capital l The Harvard Crimson
  • Harvard Management Company is moving to outsource the management of its real estate assets to Bain Capital—the largest Boston-based private equity firm—according to a Bloomberg News report published last week. HMC, which manages Harvard’s $37.1 billion endowment, has been considering spinning off its real estate team since January. At the beginning of 2017, N.P. Narvekar, the firm’s CEO, wrote in a letter to Harvard affiliates that the “the team responsible for managing HMC’s direct real estate investments is expected to spin out and become an external manager by the end of calendar year 2017.
  • The global campaign to divest from fossil fuels may have just picked up its most significant ally to date – the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund has proposed dropping investment for oil and gas companies. The plan, backed by the central bank, still needs approval by the finance ministry, but it would see the fund gradually divesting itself of oil and gas stocks over time. Currently, fossil fuel investments account for about 6 percent of the fund’s assets, or $37 billion.
Brandeis University Students Rally for Divestment l The Justice
  • In a call to action, students marched from the Rabb Steps to the administration buildings last Wednesday, the same day the Board of Trustees was meeting, and urged University President Ron Liebowitz to engage with the Board and discuss fossil fuel divestment. Organized by Brandeis Climate Justice, a group of about 40 students and faculty members held up signs that read “Climate Justice = Social Justice,” “Don’t invest in death” and “‘There is no such thing as an innocent purchaser of stock’ — Louis Brandeis.” Making their way to lower campus, they chanted “UMass did it, so can we, let’s make Brandeis fossil-free!” and “Hey, Brandeis, step off it! There’s poison in your profit!”
Why Canadian Pension Plans Must Divest of Fossil Fuel Investments l The Conversation
  • According to this author, oil-and-gas assets are unreliable commodities primarily controlled by international interests. Because the industry is not Canadian-controlled, it has no stake in working in the best interests of Canadian communities. In this article, they argue that when Canadian pension plans divest and refocus on sustainable investing, local economies will experience an increase in needed capital investment to grow and develop, setting an example for the world.
University of Cambridge Protestors Seek to Clear the Air Around Divestment l The Varsity
  • Cambridge Zero Carbon Society staged a protest on Wednesday in front of King’s College Chapel, with around a dozen protesters calling on the University to withdraw its investments in fossil fuel companies. Campaigners dressed in black set off smoke grenades and shouted through megaphones. The protest was part of a coordinated ‘National Day of Action’, alongside similar societies at other universities including East Anglia, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, UCL, Bristol and Plymouth.

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: November 17, 2017

New Reports
 
Hampshire College Case Study l Intentional Endowments Network 
  • We are pleased to share with you our new case study on Hampshire College’s journey in considering social responsibility, sustainability, and institutional mission in its endowment investing. As many schools and nonprofits grapple with these issues, or face scrutiny from stakeholders, this case study offers details on how Hampshire College undertook ESG criteria and aligning with mission. Read the press release outlining the report, and access the full report here.
Responding to Resistance l Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative
  • The FAIRR Initiative has just launched a new report titled Responding to Resistance which includes an update on our collaborative investor engagement, the FAIRRGlobal Investor Antibiotics Statement and Best Practice Guidance for Producers and Purchasers. The report shows the growing engagement on this issue from both investors and companies. The FAIRR Antibiotics Overuse collaborative engagement launched in April 2016 with 54 investors with just over $1 trillion in combined assets - this has risen to 73 investors with $2.3 trillion combined AUM in active dialogue with 20 companies.

Tracing Who’s Responsible for Temperature Increase and Sea Level Rise l Union of Concerned Scientists

  • A peer-reviewed study, authored by Brenda Ekwurzel, James Boneham, Mike Dalton, Rick Heede, Roberto Mera, Myles Allen and Peter Frumhoff and published in Climatic Change, analyzed and quantified the climate change impacts of carbon dioxide and methane emissions traced to each company for two time-periods: 1880 to 2010 and 1980 to 2010.
  • This paper makes the case that the opportunities for investing in early stage clean energy technology companies have changed significantly and favorably in recent years to offer the potential for greater risk adjusted returns in the sector than ever before. The authors examine what went wrong in prior cycles of venture capital investing in this sector and how markets, teams, and strategies have changed recently to fundamentally improve the investment landscape.
Upcoming Events
Webinar: Developing Your Cleantech 2.0 Investment Strategy | Climate Solutions Collaborative, Tuesday, November 28th 1:00pm ET
  • The Climate Solutions Collaborative and CREO present a primer for foundations, endowment managers, family offices, and high net individuals to help inform the development of a cleantech investment strategy. Speakers include Rob Day, Spring Lane Capital, Shawn Lesser, Big Path Capital, Ken Allston, CALCEF and Bed Gaddy, Clean Energy Trust.
Investing for Impact Symposium l High Water Women, November 30, 2017, New York, NY

 RI Americas 2017 l Responsible Investor, December 6-7, 2017, New York, NY

  • The topics and themes for the RI Americas 2017 agenda are based around demonstrating sustainability risk and return implications for investors in the light of finding solutions to the major ESG problems of our time including: What the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations mean for corporate and investor reporting, investment strategy, and climate solutions, Disruptive initiatives like the World Benchmarking Alliance, and more.
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact and ESG Investing
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how clean energy stocks have gained in the past year, despite political headwinds; The U.S. met protests at the U.N. climate summit in Bonn; and global growth is creating an opportunity for inclusive finance.
Generation Y Takes The Moral High Ground When Investing l The Times
  • What lies behind the rise in socially responsible investing? The desire among millennials for their hard-earned cash to be put to socially useful purposes. Only a minority of those aged 45 or over want their money invested in a more ethical way, yet this is the ambition of more than a third of those between 25 and 34, according to research by Triodos, the ethical bank.
HSBC Pledges to Invest $100bn In Sustainable Finance l Consumer & Society
  • HSBC has announced plans that it will be investing $100bn on sustainable finance by the year 2020 to help combat climate change. The bank claims that it will “intensify its support for clean energy and lower-carbon technologies, as well as projects that support the implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals”. It has also pledged to “discontinue financing of new thermal coal mines or new customers dependent on thermal coal mining”
As Women Speak Out on Sexual Harassment, Investors Take Note l Marketplace
  • As more and more sexual harassment claims come to light against powerful men, it's been a wake-up call across our culture. Especially for for corporations and investors, according to a recent article from Barron's magazine. In this Q&A, Katherine Bell, Barron's editor-in-chief, joins Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O'Leary to discuss how sexual harassment is playing out for the stock market, and why investors are now paying more attention to workplace culture. An edited version of their conversation follows.
How Europe Leads the Way on ESG Investing l Professional Pensions
  • Ethical and responsible investment is a much sought-after characteristic for managers of pension fund investments, and this view appears to be strongly shared across Europe. Stark differences in approach to ESG issues between Europe and North America show significant cultural markers, James Phillips writes in this article.
Will ESG Investing Become The New Normal? l Seeking Alpha
  • Even though there is a lot of talk in Europe around sustainable investments, also known as using ESG criteria, it seems the majority of investors still do not invest in sustainable products. In this regard, one needs to question why European investors are so reluctant to use sustainable investments. I was really surprised that the latest research shows that some investors still believe the inclusion of ESG criteria leads to lower portfolio performance. But even more surprising was the finding that professional investors also do not integrate ESG criteria or use such a specific approach in their portfolio management processes, since they feel they don’t understand the differences between the diverging approaches.
ESG Alive and Kicking l Pensions and Investments
  • Total ESG fund assets were about $460 billion as of Sept. 30 across 360 funds. Equity funds make up the majority of AUM, with $400 billion, followed by $52 billion in fixed-income AUM and about $8 billion in multiasset funds. There were 360 ESG funds at the end of 2016, 300 of which were equity funds and 47 that were debt focused.
  • Last week, Swiss bank UBS announced the launch of a new Global Impact Equity fund that’s focused on “long-term growth opportunities which aim to generate a positive social and environmental impact, alongside a consistent financial return”. The bank will invest in somewhere between forty to eighty publicly traded companies that have “positive and tangible impact on human well being and environment quality” — industries like clean energy, clean water and food security.
European Commission Seeks Feedback on How Institutional Investors Can Include ESG l Pensions & Investments
  • The European Commission has launched a consultation on how money managers and institutional investors could include environmental, social and governance factors into consideration when making decisions. The consultation is public, and the commission is seeking comment from beneficiaries and retirement plan participants, pension and insurance providers, insurance companies, money managers, financial advisers, service providers such as those providing indexes and research, and law firms. The consultation paper, "Public consultation on institutional investors and asset managers' duties regarding sustainability," follows up on a recommendation outlined by a High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance in its interim report, published in July.

Impact Investing Can Achieve Market Rate Returns GIIN Report Says l Alpha Q

  • A new report, Global Impact Investing Network Perspectives: Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments, provides a comprehensive review of available research to date on the financial performance of impact investments. In addition to describing each study, the report synthesises findings across available research by asset class and surfaces implications for the industry. Key findings in the report include the fact that impact investors that target market-rate returns can achieve them, the firm says.
State Street Global Advisors Expands Board Diversity Guidance to Companies in Japan and Canada l Business Wire
  • State Street Global Advisors, the asset management business of State Street Corporation, today announced that the $2.67 trillion asset manager will expand its guidance on corporate board diversity to the public companies in which it invests in Japan and Canada.
Podcast: Three Views on Impact Investing l Goldman Sachs
  • Hugh Lawson, head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Institutional Client Strategy and ESG and Impact investing efforts, is joined by Scott Brown, CEO of New Energy Capital, and Elizabeth McGeveran, Director of Impact Investing at the McKnight Foundation, to discuss how socially conscious investing has become mainstream and where it could be headed.

Investor Analysis Warns U.S. Falling Behind Europe on Antibiotics l Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative

  • New investor analysis today highlights a growing policy gap between the US and Europe on action to reduce antibiotic use in livestock – seen as one of the biggest drivers of antibiotic resistance.  A group of 62 concerned investors have backed a new statement urging companies to act to close this policy gap. Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s biggest public health threats, reported to kill 700,000 people each year; with overuse of antibiotics in livestock production recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an important factor in its emergence.
Measuring Impact, Performance & Risk
 
How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Corporate America l Fast Company
  • Wages for the vast majority of workers have been stagnant for the past four decades, healthcare benefits and retirement security have been steadily shrinking, and most companies offer little, if any, training to the bulk of their employees. R. Paul Herman, CEO of HIP Investor, a firm that rates the human, social, and environmental impacts—and their links to profit—of more than 6,500 global companies, wants to fix that. This week, at the Sustainable Brands New Metrics conference in Philadelphia, Herman will again raise a question that he’s been asking for many years now: Why aren’t investments in employees counted as assets on the balance sheet? In fact, if you put money into upgrading your workers’ skills, that’s recorded as an expense on the income statement.
  • ESG have become critical issues in the way investors judge companies, but corporates face too many ESG measures suffering from too little standardisation. The author of this article  investigated 218 different ESG initiatives and interviewed 45 asset owners, asset managers and companies in the Netherlands, the UK and Germany. I found that reporting fatigue at company level is a substantial cost that is often overlooked. What makes matters worse is the lack of convergence of ESG ratings and rankings.
  • Arabesque announced today an agreement to work with State Street, one of the world's largest custody banks, to integrate ESG data into its service offerings through Arabesque's proprietary technology. State Street's ESG Solutions business will offer Arabesque S-Ray™, an algorithm-based technology that analyzes the sustainability performance of the world's largest listed corporations using self-learning quantitative models and data scores, as a risk management and compliance measure.
  • The UK’s corporate governance watchdog should explore ways to increase transparency in corporate reporting of company contributions towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to recommendations from an independent advisory group. The group’s report, Growing a culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK, details a number of recommendations—among them a call for companies to reveal how they perform against the SDGs. The report resulted from a perceived lack of progress in enabling individuals to make social impact investments.
 
 
Fiduciary Duty
 
  • The European Commission is considering whether to clarify that institutional investors’ duties include taking into account sustainability risks. The European Union’s executive has decided to start work on an impact assessment to assess whether and how such a clarification could contribute to a more efficient allocation of capital, and to sustainable and inclusive growth. The Commission launched a public consultation today to help it “gather and analyse the necessary evidence to determine possible action to improve the assessment and integration of sustainability factors in the relevant investment entities’ decision-making process”.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Gender Pay Equity: Costco Latest Retail Giant To Take Action, Following Leads Of Starbucks, Nike, And Gap - reports Arjuna Capital l 4-Traders
  • Following the examples of retailers Starbucks, Nike, and The Gap, Costco is taking public steps to be more transparent with investors about its gender pay gap. In response, Arjuna Capital announced today that it has withdrawn a shareholder resolution, co-filed with Zevin Asset Management, calling on Costco to produce a detailed report on measures to help achieve gender pay equity.
Vanguard's Sleepy Proxy Vote OKs Trustees; Human-Rights Divestment Proposal Fails l Philly.com
  • Vanguard Group shareholders voted Wednesday to approve a board of trustees for all its U.S.-based funds, while an activist shareholder group lost on a ballot question proposing that Vanguard divest from PetroChina and Sinopec, two Chinese energy firms doing business in Sudan and allegedly engaging in genocide. The votes came at a special shareholders meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., the company said Wednesday afternoon.
Green Bonds
 
Money Managers and Greenwashing l Bloomberg Gadfly
  • As ESG issues become embedded in the architecture of money management, the custodians of wealth are discharging the "E" part of their obligations by buying green bonds. Sales of the securities, which promise to fund environmentally sustainable practices, are booming. Moody's Investors Service reckons issuance is likely to pass $120 billion in 2017 after sales in the first nine months of the year beat 2016's total of $93 billion. Returns on the bonds have outpaced those delivered by conventional investment-grade debt in the past year.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
There's One Unspeakable Fix That Would Help Pay for the GOP's Tax Cuts l Bloomberg
  • The White House and Congress may need revenue to pay for their tax cuts. Ex-Goldman risk manager and current Crane Institute of Sustainability Board Member Robert Litterman has the perfect solution outlined in this article, a carbon tax.
Keystone Pipeline Spills 210,000 Gallons of Oil on Eve of Permitting Decision for TransCanada l Washington Post 
  • The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota. The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada.
  • More resources need to be dedicated to sustainable agriculture if the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement are to be met, according to sector leaders and experts speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference. During a session on Friday, a key takeaway was that investing in agricultural climate action, especially in terms of small-scale farmers and those in rural areas, will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions. The livestock sector, for example, could readily reduce emissions by about 30% with the adoption of best practices, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
A Shadow Delegation Stalks the Official U.S. Team at Climate Talks l The New York Times
  • The dueling American delegations in Bonn mirror a larger division within the United States over climate change. President Trump’s decision in June to withdraw from the Paris agreement was popular with his supporters. On Thursday, the State Department and the Interior Department sent high-level political officials to address a conference in Texas sponsored by the Heartland Institute, which rejects the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and primarily caused by human emissions. Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, sent a video message of support.
Koch-Funded Group Prods Trump’s EPA to Say Climate Change Not a Risk l Bloomberg
  • A lobbying group funded by Koch Industries Inc. and coal giant Peabody Energy Corp.is moving to prod the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its earlier determination that climate change is a risk to human health and welfare. The American Legislative Exchange Council will consider a resolution that would be offered to state legislatures to adopt as a way of pressuring the Trump administration to uproot his predecessor’s efforts to address climate change, attacking the very science that shows temperatures rising and storms increasing.
General Endowment News
 
Endowment Tax Remains in Play, But Graduate Tax is Off the Table in Senate Plan l The Washington Post
  • Senate Republicans late Thursday released a tax overhaul plan that provides a mix of relief and worry for higher education stakeholders. The GOP senators are backing a Republican House proposal to impose a 1.4 percent excise tax on investment income at private schools with endowments worth at least $250,000 per full-time student. Analysts say the tax would affect some 60 to 70 private schools, from big names like Harvard University to lesser known liberal arts institutions like Agnes Scott College.
It’s Time to Clean Up Public and Non-Profit Endowments l LA Progressive
  • In this opinion piece, the author describes how private equity firms, hedge funds, off-shore investments, tax avoidance, and blocker corporations are not terms and enterprises that the public equates with public and non-profit endowment activities, and how higher education donors need to start asking questions about where their money is invested.
Their View: Taxing Nonprofit Endowments Taxes Our Nation’s Future l Times Leader
  • The tax bill recently introduced by Congress – House Resolution 1 or HR1 – aims to reduce tax rates and to close tax loopholes. As a nation, we often speak of expanding opportunity for the middle class. Current tax law has a number of provisions aimed at doing just that by supporting access to higher education. It is my hope the new bill will preserve and enhance those existing provisions, especially as they apply to endowments and the deductibility of charitable contributions. Higher education is unlike any other venture as it purposely operates at a loss. When we add tuition, fees and room and board to state and federal assistance grants and loans, our revenue typically does not equal our cost of doing business. Donors who give back to their communities by supporting future students most often bridge the resulting deficit. Many of those donors choose to fund scholarships that subsidize students’ education decades after the initial donation. In these instances, donors may never meet many of the beneficiaries of their long-lasting generosity. Universities only spend a given portion of the scholarship earnings, thereby preserving the initial investment or corpus, permanently.
Elite Universities Invest Endowments Via Tax Havens l University World News
  • Elite universities in the United States and the United Kingdom have been investing endowment funds offshore in order to pay little or no tax, according to details revealed in the so-called Paradise Papers, a series of leaked documents from Appleby, a legal firm based in Bermuda.  The Paradise Papers is the term for a global investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people, companies and institutions. Some 13.4 million leaked files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and explored by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 95 media partners.
Funds get Needed Bounce But Cautioned to Stay Nimble l Pensions & Investments
  • Strong equity markets and smart asset allocation helped U.S. endowments recover from what was a dismal fiscal 2016. But industry observers noted investment teams must remain vigilant if they want to maintain those strong returns. All 43 funds tracked by Pensions & Investments had positive returns for the fiscal year ended June 30, with all but two — Harvard University and University of Minnesota — posting double digits. "It was a good year. They've had a couple of struggling years, so they needed a good year," said Heather Myers, a partner, non-profit practice leader at Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, Boston.
Universities to U.S. Senate: Endowment Tax Idea 'Fundamentally Flawed' l U.S. News
  • Tax legislation working its way through the U.S. Senate would put a new levy on endowments held by large private universities and colleges, a proposal that more than three dozen higher-education lobbying groups on Tuesday called "fundamentally flawed." The groups, led by the American Council on Education, wrote that "creating a new and unprecedented tax on endowments" would redirect large amounts of money to the federal government and "away from providing scholarships to our students and supporting research and education."
NEPC: Foundations and Endowments Upping Private Equity Despite Lower Expected Returns l Pensions and Investments
  • Foundations and endowments are increasing private equity allocations despite the expectations of lower returns in the future, according to the latest quarterly survey from investment consultant NEPC. In the survey conducted in October of its endowment and foundation clients, NEPC said 51% of respondents plan to increase their allocations to private equity over the next 12 months, while 39% plan to maintain those allocations and 10% plan to decrease. Almost 44% of respondents, however, expect private equity to generate lower returns going forward, while 39% believe they will be in line with past returns and 17% believe returns will get higher.
Why North Carolina Central University May Shake Up Its Investment Strategy l The Herald Sun
  • Like anyone with a nest egg to protect, N.C. Central University’s trustees and chancellor are wondering how long Wall Street’s bull market can continue to run. And they’re worried enough about the potential answer that, on a consultant’s advice, they appear likely to shuffle the university’ $34.1 million endowment to put more money with a UNC-linked investment manager that by its own admission “tends to play defense better than offense.”
  • In Maryland, the USM Foundation manages endowments, and this type of an endowment is called a quasi-endowment. Quasi-endowments are “accounts invested as an endowment, but funds are earmarked for a specific use.” We’ve created similar endowments for campus capital projects and to facilitate university development efforts, why not tuition? The initial seed money would come from three primary sources; an initial transfer from the USM fund balance, private funds raised from the 12 USM intuitions, and the general fund of the state of Maryland. At the beginning the endowment would support Pell Grant eligible transfer students from Maryland community colleges to a four-year USM institution. As the fund grows we would seek to cover all Pell eligible students in the USM. Eventually every Marylander admitted to a USM institution could attend tuition-free. Under this plan we would be well on our way to implementing a system in which students and families would finally be free from crushing student loan debt that has long handicapped the financial and professional prospects of too many Marylanders.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Medibank to Dump Holdings in Fossil Fuels Over Climate Change Health Fears l The Sydney Morning Herald
  • Medibank, one of Australia's biggest health insurers, has announced it will dump its holdings in fossil fuel companies amid concern over the health effects of climate change. In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Monday morning, Medibank said it would transition to low-carbon investments in its international portfolio within the next year, to reflect the global transition to clean energy.
  • California has seen a slew of calls for divestment this year, including against the DAPL, companies that could help build President Donald Trump’s border wall, and businesses with ties to Turkey. This week, State Treasurer John Chiang has proposed CalPERS and CalSTRS divest from companies that sell firearms used in the Las Vegas mass shooting, and 12 Democratic members of Congress from California called on the funds to divest from Trump Organization properties. But the most ardent opponent of these divestment efforts is often the funds themselves. “Taking us out of a particular company has zero impact to that company,” says CalSTRS chief investment officer Chris Ailman. “Somebody else buys the shares. It’s literally like a boycott of two out of thousands.” Even if divestment doesn’t immediately hit companies in the pocket book, it creates public stigma that can lead other shareholders and then even governments to pull out, too. The common example is when divestments and mass boycotts in the 1970s pressured South Africa to end apartheid. Welch says it’s hard to measure the effect of that kind of pressure, but divestment in South Africa did not put financial stress on the country.
  • Grinnell Student Resistance held a Divest Day of Action on Monday, Nov. 6, which inspired conversation about the controversial issue of divestment on campus through a variety of venues — from rallies to talks in the D-Hall to, quite notably, art. Divest Art took place in the Spencer Grill, and transformed the space into a hub of energy, information and action. The movement decorated the Grill’s walls and windows with banners and posters, including the “Wall,” a large poster covered in notes and sketches related to divestment and the environment. Tables were converted into stations to make signs for the rally later in the day, and to decorate binders for the trustees. Student band TGI Funkies also played, first building energy and drawing attention with their music and eventually transitioning to music-backed divestment chants. Essentially, it was a space for conversation, action and community to manifest through the shared medium of art.
Why the Southwark Council Pension Fund is Divesting £1.2bn Out of Fossil Fuels l The Guardian
  • Data released on 9 November shows that the UK’s local authorities invest more than £16bn into companies that extract oil, gas and coal. In December 2016,following more than a year of consultation, deliberation and work with community groups, Southwark council pension fund announced a decision to divest the £1.2bn fund from fossil fuels. This was a decision based not just on political and ethical concerns, but primarily on the belief that climate change and significant investments in fossil fuels present a long term financial risk to the fund. The action to reduce the carbon exposure of the fund is wholly consistent with fiduciary duties as pension fund trustees.
Oxbridge Must End Dirty Investments – Both Offshore and Oil l The Guardian
  • Students at Oxford and Cambridge are taught about the dangers of economic inequality, climate change, and the limits of burnable carbon. But the Paradise Papers have revealed that behind the scenes, the universities are investing tens of millions in projects that systematically exacerbate inequality and climate disaster. The scandal is not simply tax avoidance. It is the hypocrisy of universities that espouse their commitment to sustainability while financing environmental destruction offshore.
Norway’s Wealth Fund Considers Divesting From Oil Shares l The New York Times
  • Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is considering a divestment of holdings in international petroleum companies, a sign that even Europe’s dominant producer does not have full confidence in oil’s future. The recommendation on Thursday by the Norwegian Central Bank, which manages the fund, is potentially the biggest advance yet for a global fossil-fuel divestment campaign that has been promoted on college campuses and by environmental activists.
Divestment Protesters Keep the Pressure on With March Through Cambridge University l The Varsity
  • Cambridge Zero Carbon Society staged the second protest in a week against the University’s continued investment in fossil fuels, as academics called for discussion of the University’s investments.
  • In June 17, 1985, recent alum Perry Chang wrote a handwritten note to then-president of the College David Fraser. The letter enclosed, written by Chang and a few other students who had graduated in 1985, was a call for divestment from companies doing business in South Africa under Apartheid.  many ways, this process can be seen as analogous to the current movement for divestment from fossil fuels: in April of 1985, before the Committee came to a decision, the College held a referendum in which 79% of the students who voted called for total divestment to replace the Sullivan principles. Mountain Justice held a similar referendum last year. Then and now, divestment is no easy process — hoops must be jumped through; drawbacks must be considered. Even so, morality in investment has been a question the College has been struggling with for decades and will, I predict, for years to come.

 

 

 

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