Weekly News Round-Up: June 16th, 2017


New IEN Member
Upcoming Events

  • There are now 1,700 PRI signatories, from over 50 countries, with assets approaching US$62 trillion, committed to incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making. This webinar will explore how SASB standards can help PRI signatories fulfill their commitments and adhere to the values that undergird the PRI principles.
ESG in Infrastructure & Private Market Investing l UN PRI, June 29th, 2017, New York, NY
  • Join the PRI at an event on ESG in Infrastructure & Private Market Investing on June 29th at The University Club of New York. The agenda includes a keynote speech on why LPs are increasingly seeking ESG strategies, as well as effective frameworks and themes being applied in infrastructure investing.
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres, and others to host a pre-Summit event focused on opportunities for investing in clean energy and climate solutions.
 
 
Opportunities for Action
 
Grand Coalition Statement on Paris Agreement l Second Nature
  • The Administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. It is clear that higher education, in alignment with a grand coalition of other vital sectors of the US economy, must continue to lead the nation’s climate actions. Join mayors, governors, and business leaders in demonstrating our national commitment to the principles and targets of the Paris Agreement. This joint statement is the first time that these sectors have joined together publicly in a strong show of support for climate action that is so vital to the future of our country.
  • IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The scholarship is run by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to insure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11thclick here to apply. Winners are announced in late September.  For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com
 
 
New Resources
 
  • A lot of people find the idea of sustainable investing appealing, but what does it really mean and how can you start investing this way? The concept originally had its roots in socially responsible investing, but as it’s grown in popularity, it has also grown more complex. The differences in approaches come from what each aims to accomplish and how, as outlined in this report.
Best of Sustainable Finance l Bloomberg Reports
  • This special edition of Sustainable Finance presents the best stories from the brief this year -- from green bond sales to the gender pay gap.
SRI & ESG Investing at Endowments
 
Board of Directors Approves New Socially Responsible Investing Policy | Georgetown University
  • Georgetown’s board approved an SRI Policy that further aligns the university’s investment strategy with its commitment to social justice, protection of human life and dignity, stewardship for the planet and promotion of the common good. “This SRI Policy is an important step forward for Georgetown,” says Paul Tagliabue (C’62), the board’s vice chair and leader of its working group on SRI. “It formalizes and strengthens the university’s investment policies. Recognizing that the university’s endowment is not to be used for advocating political interests, we are committed to both meeting our fiduciary responsibilities and generating resources to advance the university’s academic mission in a manner consistent with our identity as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.” See the SRI Policy here
University of Toronto Asset Management releases first-ever report on responsible investing | The Varsity
  • UTAM, the non-profit corporation responsible for handling the University of Toronto’s investments, has released its first Responsible Investing Report, outlining its plans to pursue responsible investment strategies. UTAM’s primary effort to encourage responsible investing has been through the analyses of ESG factors when making direct and indirect investment decisions. See the report here
Statement of Investment Principles | Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon 
  • From the policy: Academic research supports the practice of incorporating environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors with other conventional financial analytical tools when evaluating investment opportunities as these factors may help identify potential opportunities and risks which conventional tools miss. The UO encourages its advisors and managers to include ESG factors in their analytical processes.
  • Wespath Benefits and Investments was commended by Responsible Investor for the quality of its sustainable investment report, 2015-2016 Sustainable Investment Report: Global Investor—Sustainable Investor. The award recognizes best practices and promotes transparency in sustainable investment reporting. Wespath was the only U.S.-based asset owner nominated in the "Best RI Report by an Asset Owner" category; it is the second time RI has recognized Wespath for its sustainable investment reporting.
  • CalPERs has won Responsible Investor's inaugural award for Innovation & Industry Leadership for its Environmental, Social, and Governance 5-Year Strategic Plan. 
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Briefs l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how, as many of the world's biggest asset owners increase their focus on responsible investing, they are starting to ask more of hedge funds they invest in if they are incorporating sustainable strategies;  Apple returns to the green bond market; family offices could fill funding gaps for minority-owned businesses; and gender diversity in Asian boardrooms is among the lowest in the world. 
Individuals and Institutions Split on Benefits of ESG Investing: Survey l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • More precise language about ESG investing and a more thorough conversation about the purpose it plays in portfolios may be the key to bridging the “gulf” between how professional and individual investors view its role and impact, according to Natixis Global Asset Management. In a report based on a set of investor surveys it carried out last year, the asset manager said it found a “distinct split” in the views of professional and individual investors that challenges conventional thinking about ESG investing. Individuals believe the environmental, social, and ethical records of the companies they invest in are important, said Natixis, while professionals at institutions and within “the investment community” were more sceptical about the efficacy of these strategies, for example having concerns about performance measurement.
  • Some 82 percent of S&P 500 Index companies published a sustainability or corporate responsibility report last year, according to new research data. “If asset owners like CalPERS, New York State Common Fund and the New York City pension system and others are increasingly requiring asset managers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable investing, then that influence is shaping the direction of the capital market,” said Hank Boerner, chairman & co-founder of the GAI.
UN PRI: Transparency Holds the Key to Sustainable Markets l IR Markets
  • Transparency is a key driver for creating sustainable capital markets and should form a core part of the business model of every player within the financial services sector, including stock exchanges. Global stock exchanges list more than $70 tn of market capitalization, ideally placing them to drive long-term value creation through improved market transparency. The UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE), launched in 2009 and co-organized by a number of other UN programs, including the UN-supported PRI, has been successful in bringing global exchanges together, along with investors, regulators and companies, to enhance corporate transparency on ESG issues.  Eight years after launch, the SSE today includes 60 stock exchanges, representing more than 30,000 listed companies.  
  • As institutional investors increasingly turn to alternative investments, including private equity to seek additional return and diversification, the pressure is now on private equity managers to step up and offer sustainable investment solutions, says Mirja Lehmler-Brown, Senior Investment Manager at Aberdeen Private Equity.
  • This article discusses how one can evaluate different ETFs using MSCI’s ESG ratings data on ETF.com.
 
 
Shareholder Engagement
  • Recently, hundreds of Facebook shareholders at the company’s annual meeting listened politely as top executives discussed the social media giant’s performance metrics and goals–until Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner at Arjuna Capital, got up out of her chair and stood to face the board. She demanded that the company address its fake news problem by publishing a formal report about its prevalence on the site and its impact. While the firm has spent years trying to pressure corporate boards to address social and environmental issues, in recent months there’s been a clear increase in such investor-driven proposals.
Investment Manager News
 
  • Broadridge Financial Solutions is to add MSCI ESG Research’s ESG Fund Metrics to its Global Market Intelligence, a platform for domestic and cross-border fund data and analytics. Under the agreement, key MSCI ESG Fund Metrics will be available on the platform to provide an increased level of transparency on the (ESG quality and characteristics of over 26,000 mutual funds and ETFs covered by MSCI ESG Research.
TFC Financial Management Launches Sustainable and Responsible Investment Strategy l Wire Update
  • TFC Financial Management (TFC), an independent, majority employee-owned registered investment advisory and financial planning firm has announced the launch of its Sustainable and Responsible Investment Strategy (SRI). “Our clients, their families and prospective clients are increasingly expressing interest in SRI and their desire to have investment portfolios be more aligned with their personal values and social impact priorities,” said TFC Chief Executive Officer Renée Kwok. “We are pleased to be able to offer this strategy, designed to provide long-term investment returns as well as positive social and environmental impact, as both dimensions are important to these clients.”
  • Morgan Stanley recently announced that it has launched a sustainable investing e-learning education program directly to the desktops of each of its approximately 16,000 Financial Advisors. Morgan Stanley offers individual and institutional clients sustainable and impact investing solutions through its proprietary Investing with Impact Platform. Built in collaboration between Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and the Institute for Sustainable Investing, the web-based curriculum provides an immersive educational experience through a series of five themes covered in the course.

General Higher Education & Endowment News
 

 

  • A new report on operations at the University of Louisville Foundation describes in devastating detail a series of excessive spending practices, unbudgeted expenses, unapproved actions, high executive compensation and unrecorded endowment losses. The foundation’s Board of Directors in many cases did not approve foundation activities or were not aware of them, according to the 135-page report, which was produced by an independent investigating firm and released Thursday
  • The University of Michigan's endowment is looking for yield by boosting its holdings in two Texas-based energy funds. The University said it plans to add to its investment in Denham Oil & Gas, a Houston-based fund that focuses on upstream exploration. The endowment committed $30 million to Denham in March. It's also seeking to bolster its co-investment in Dallas-based Four Rivers Resources. The school committed $5 million in April to the fund, which acquires assets from an operator in the San Juan basin in Colorado. The university's fund had 8.3 percent of assets invested in natural resources as of April, up from 6 percent as of June 2015, according to public filings.

 

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Bullish Forecasts Create Liability Risk, ClientEarth Warns Fossil Fuel Giants l Client Earth
  • ClientEarth has written to BP, Glencore and investors warning of the risk of investor lawsuits based on statements about future fossil fuel demand in their reporting. Both companies publish scenarios for future commodity demand in official reporting documents that paint a picture at odds with expert analysis. They are also optimistic when compared to competitors’ forecasts. According to ClientEarth, this suggests a risk of evidence materializing which demonstrates that the companies’ management were reckless as to the truth or accuracy of statements relating to these scenarios. Such evidence could be an internal memo, email correspondence or consultant reports.If this happens, and investors have suffered loss as a result of relying on the statement, investors can sue.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 

Pensions, CIOs Rebuke Fossil Fuel Divestment Report l Chief Investment Officer

  • A new study that was commissioned and financed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) suggests fossil fuel divestment could cost the top US pension funds up to $5 trillion over the next 50 years. Using available data on the current holdings of each fund, the study analyzes 11 funds including CalPERS and municipal funds. “This may be looking at valuations and fossil fuels as our main energy source currently. However, the growth of technology within energy is unreal,” said Matthew Sherwood Ph.D, senior manager, public markets investments, MMBB Financial Services. “Even further than that, new technology is constantly being created with certain coals and more reliable oil, and investing those technologies with a further upside is a lot more money. That’s where you generate true alpha, like investing in Tesla when it was a startup. I think the opportunities that these technologies create within energy makes it much more attractive.”
Major US Pension Fund Divests Australian Coal l Financial Standard
  • The largest educator-only pension fund in the world is divesting from all non-US thermal coal holdings, including Australia-based Whitehaven Coal. The US$206.5 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) teachers' retirement board reached the decision last week, based upon its long-term global perspective and fiduciary duty, including consideration of environmental risks - both current and those projected over the next 10 to 25+ years.
  • Georgetown will make efforts to avoid investments in companies involved in providing abortion services, as well as companies deemed to violate “human dignity,” after the university’s board of directors approved a new Socially Responsible Investing Policy on Thursday. The policy is a general framework for the university’s investment strategy, laying out ethical guidelines that the university must follow consistent with the its academic mission and Catholic and Jesuit identity. The new guidelines broadly require the university to consider the social and environmental impact of companies in which it invests.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: June 9th, 2017

New IEN Member

Upcoming Events

Breakfast Briefing: Environmental, Social & Governance Investing l Fund Intelligence, June 15, 2017, New York, NY
  • The US Breakfast Briefing, a free to attend event, featuring a panel-led discussion and informal networking. Join for an in-depth discussion with representatives from foundations, endowments, and asset management firms on socially responsible investing.
  • There are now 1,700 PRI signatories, from over 50 countries, with assets approaching US$62 trillion, committed to incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making. This webinar will explore how SASB standards can help PRI signatories fulfill their commitments and adhere to the values that undergird the PRI principles.
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres, and others to host a pre-Summit event focused on opportunities for investing in clean energy and climate solutions.
 
Opportunities for Action
 
Grand Coalition Statement on Paris Agreement l Second Nature
  • The Administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. It is clear that higher education, in alignment with a grand coalition of other vital sectors of the US economy, must continue to lead the nation’s climate actions. Join mayors, governors, and business leaders in demonstrating our national commitment to the principles and targets of the Paris Agreement. This joint statement is the first time that these sectors have joined together publicly in a strong show of support for climate action that is so vital to the future of our country.
  • IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The scholarship is run by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to insure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11thclick here to apply. Winners are announced in late September.  For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com

 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
  • The National Geographic Society announced Wednesday it will invest $50 million of its $1.2 billion endowment in impact investments. "At National Geographic, we are committed to changing the world through science, exploration, education and storytelling," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO, in a news release. "We recognized the opportunity to double down on our ability to make an impact — contributing to a better society not just through the grants we make, but by making investments that deliver both financial and societal returns."
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how  U.S. municipalities are expected to ramp up issuance of green bonds even as President Donald Trump plans to exit the Paris agreement on global warming, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative; The market for renewables in Africa is drawing strong investor interest, says African Infrastructure Investment Managers CEO Jurie Swart; and the U.S. House of Representatives moved ahead this week on a plan to consider a bill that would block all but the largest investors from putting proposals up for consideration at a company's annual meeting.
ESG: You Don't Need To Give Up Performance To Invest In A Sustainable Way l Forbes
  • In this Q&A with Janet Brown, President and CEO of FundX Investment Group, Brown explains what ESG is, trends in the space and opportunities for investment.
Private Real Asset Funds on Par with ESG Investments l Chief Investment Officer
  • Funds that invest in private real assets, such as timber, real estate, and infrastructure, can offer similar objectives and returns as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments, according to a report from nonprofit organization Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). The “Financial Performance of Real Assets Impact Investments” report analyzed the financial performance of private real assets impact investment funds in three sectors: timber, real estate, and infrastructure.
  • The International Trade Union Confederation Global Poll this year reveals that 85 percent of the world’s people say the world would be a better place if their government were more committed to action on climate change. In order to have a chance to stay as far below the 2°C limit as possible, emissions must be reduced to zero as soon as can be achieved. Entire economic sectors must transform their carbon footprint to reach that goal. If we are to live within planetary boundaries, all economic activity has to contribute to realizing a circular economy – one that reduces waste, reuses, and recycles.
Impact Investing Entering the Mainstream: The impact on Asia l Asia Asset Management
  • Impact investing, according to a canonical definition developed by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and Cambridge Associates, means investing “made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return”. This article discusses what the characteristics and growth opportunities are of impact investing and how far they are appropriate and already implemented in Asia.
  • This formerly niche corner of investing has become increasingly mainstream, partly because it offers a tantalizing opportunity to target millennial customers. Big-name players are getting involved, such as Morgan Stanley, which has created an Institute for Sustainable Investing and recently raised more than $125 million for a global impact fund. The prominent venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is backing OpenInvest, which matches people with socially responsible investments. All the new entrants are bringing more credibility to the field, but they’ve also coincided with some growing pains.
Shareholder Engagement
Why is the Business Roundtable Working So Hard to Destroy Shareholder Proposals? l Huffington Post
  • Co-authored by Tim Smith, Director of ESG Shareowner Engagement, Walden Asset Management, this piece discusses how earlier this year, the Business Roundtable (BRT) sent a letter to the Administration highlighting 16 regulations that the organization thought were “of most concern” to its members, noting that the regulations “directly and negatively impact economic growth.” One of those was the shareholder proposal process, which the letter described as “activist investors with insignificant stakes in public companies make shareholder proposals that pursue social or political agendas unrelated to the interests of the shareholders as a whole.” What is motivating the BRT, an organization with almost 200 CEO members, to try to essentially eliminate this fundamental right of shareholders?
  • Facebook shareholders have once again rejected a proposal for Facebook to prepare a gender pay equity report to assess pay between men and women across race and ethnicity. A stockholder proposal called for Facebook to prepare a report by December 2017 around the company’s policies and goals to reduce the gender pay gap. Shareholders rejected a similar proposal last year. Facebook, whose board of directors recommended a vote against the proposal, argued that it has already been reviewing compensation fairness to ensure pay equity for years. However, as noted on Facebook’s annual shareholder call today by Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, a 2014 Glassdoor study found that female software engineers at Facebook make $5,949 less than their male counterparts.
A Big Climate Change Vote aAgainst Exxon Mobil, With Some Heavyweight Investors Behind it l CNBC
  • On the same day the news broke that President Trump will reportedly opt out of the Paris climate change deal, preliminary voting results showed that Exxon Mobil shareholders won a battle against the oil and gas company's management to finally require a report on climate change. A big voice hidden in the victory for Exxon Mobil shareholders, according to one report, was the votes of the world's largest asset managers and ETF companies. The Washington Post reported that BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors and Vanguard Group all voted against Exxon Mobilmanagement and required that the company report on climate change.
  • Forget President Donald Trump's planned Rose Garden announcement Thursday of his policy on the Paris climate accord. The more important decision happened in a Dallas concert hall, with far less fanfare, the previous day. More than 60 percent of shareholders in Exxon Mobil Corp. backed a resolution calling for the world's biggest publicly traded oil company to disclose how technological advances and action on climate change could affect its portfolio of assets. Most significant were some of the major investors reported to have supported the proposal, which was opposed by Exxon's board. BlackRock Inc. voted in favor, while State Street Corp. and Vanguard Group likely did the same, the Washington Post wrote Wednesday.
  • Norway's $960bn sovereign wealth fund is to start pushing banks it has invested in to provide much greater disclosure on the climate impact of their lending, according to reports.
Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals News
 
  • At most of the nearly 120 colleges and universities whose presidents had signed a pledge Friday to meet the goals laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, the signatures won’t lead to a sea change. These are institutions, by and large, that have already committed to reduce their carbon footprint. But in joining a coalition of business leaders, mayors, and governors set on helping the United States meet international targets for greenhouse-gas emissions, the institutions are attempting to send a clear message: Now that President Trump has pulled the United States out of the climate accord, we’ll fill a leadership void on a global issue. Or, as the pledge’s headline puts it: "We Are Still In."
Withdrawal From Paris Accord Will Spur Interest in ESG, Advisers Say l Investment News
  • President Donald J. Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and renegotiate its terms won't lessen the need for environmental, social and governance investing, financial advisers say. Rather, it will increase it. In the United States, at least $7 trillion was focused on ESG in 2016, according to The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. That's up from $3.7 trillion in 2012 and $639 billion in 1995, according to Envestnet PMC. "My first reaction is that it's  bad day for the planet, a sad day for the economy, but a great day for sustainable investing," said Andrei Cherny, CEO of Aspiration, an ESG advisory firm. "ESG will matter more than ever before."
  • Investors have said that President Trump's decision to turn his back on the Paris Climate Agreement ignores the economic benefits that renewable energy brings. Trump’s decision to remove America from the Paris Climate deal, a non-legally binding pact made between members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to curb global warming, was met with widespread condemnation domestically and abroad.  While the move was not an off-brand for the 45th president, many noted it was a poor choice for the US economy. That is because investment into renewable, clean energy has been on the rise in the US and around the globe.
US Withdrawal From Paris Accord no Threat to ESG Investing l Pensions Expert
  • US president Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord will not affect the UK’s growing implementation of environmental, social and governance criteria on investment strategies, experts have said.
Paris Pullout Pits Chamber Against Some of Its Biggest Members l Bloomberg
  • As President Donald Trump mulled whether to exit the Paris climate accord, companies as varied as Dow Chemical Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Citigroup Inc. prodded him to stay in. But when Trump announced his decision, he cited research from one business behemoth that’s issued a steady stream of criticism to the Paris deal, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that counts all three companies as members. That disconnect between corporate executives and the nation’s top corporate lobbying force is reviving pressure on the Chamber -- and on the companies that remain members despite their differences over climate policy.
  • Many have sounded off on President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. This article offers a roundup of the most interesting assessments, including Tesla and Disney CEOs distancing themselves from the Trump Administration.
Bloomberg Commits $15 Million to UN Climate Change Framework l Philanthropy News Digest
  • In response to President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $15 million commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretariat.
  • Writing for Fast Company, Ben Paynter offers an update on how impact investing relates to the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Paynter references the Global Impact Investing Network’s 2017 Annual Impact Investor Survey in making his point that the SDGs are serving to advance and shape this relatively new form of philanthropy. At least, this was the case for the 209 impact investing groups surveyed, which together have at least $114 billion under management. These investors (fund managers, banks, foundations, pension funds, etc.) committed $22.1 billion to 8,000 impact investments in 2016.
  • Donald Trump's announcement that the U.S. will not honor the Paris Climate Accord is a move that damages the international effort to confront global warming and yanks American policy and leadership back a generation. This article outlines how this affects risks and opportunities in the sector.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
  • Monday, a grand total of 1,219 governors, mayors, businesses, investors, and colleges and universities from across the U.S. or with significant operations in the U.S., representing the broadest cross-section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action, declared their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. Signatories include leaders from 125 cities, 9 states, 902 businesses and investors, and 183 colleges and universities. Participating cities and states represent 120 million Americans and contribute $6.2 trillion to the U.S. economy.
  • Just a few years ago, the world watched nervously as India went on a building spree of coal-fired power plants, more than doubling its capacity and claiming that more were needed. Coal output, officials said, would almost triple, to 1.5 billion tons, by 2020. Rather than building coal-fired plants, it is now canceling many in the early planning stages. And last month, the government lowered its annual production target for coal to 600 million tons from 660 million. The sharp reversal, welcome news to world leaders trying to avert the potentially deadly effects of global warming, is a reflection both of the changing economics of renewable energy and a growing environmental consciousness in a country with some of the worst air pollution in the world.
Carbon Dioxide Set an All-Time Monthly High l Climate Central
  • With May in the books, it’s official: carbon dioxide set an all-time monthly record. It’s a sobering annual reminder that humans are pushing the climate into a state unseen in millions of years. Carbon dioxide peaked at 409.65 parts per million for the year, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Clean Energy
 
China Looks to Capitalize on Clean Energy as U.S. Retreats l The New York Times
  • China is capitalizing on the leadership vacuum left after President Trump said last week that he would pull the United States out of the Paris accord to limit climate change. China has already started an expensive campaign at home and abroad to solidify its considerable hold on solar, wind and other energy-saving businesses. If successful, China would win the economic and diplomatic spoils that the United States and some European countries have long enjoyed from dominating businesses like software, computer chips and airplanes.
Governor Cuomo Announces Major Climate and Jobs Initiative in Partnership with the Worker Institute at Cornell University ILR's School and Climate Jobs NY to Help Create 40,000 Clean Energy Jobs by 2020 l New York State
  • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the Clean Climate Careers initiative following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The initiative is a multi-pronged strategy to grow New York's emerging clean energy economy and prepare the workforce for the long-term careers associated with this industry. In partnership with the ILR School's Worker Institute at Cornell University and Climate Jobs NY, this initiative focuses on accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy growth to make New York a magnet for new energy technologies and creating 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020.
General Endowment News
 
  • Endowments and foundations have turned to passive investments after hedge funds disappointed with high fees and poor performance. Now, the plan is to stay put for the next 12 months, according to a survey. More than 40 percent of business officers said they increased passive investment strategies in the past three years, according to the survey released June 5 by NEPC, a Boston-based consulting firm with 109 endowment and foundation clients with assets of $60 billion. More than 50 percent of 74 endowments and foundations questioned said they plan to maintain their strategy in the next year.
  • Robert Wallace, the head of Stanford University’s $25 billion endowment, urged caution when investing in private equity and venture capital, saying that an excess of capital is driving some company valuations higher. Wallace, who trained at Yale University under David Swensen, said that while the two asset classes offer the best opportunities for outsize market returns, or so-called alpha, investors need to be selective in choosing managers.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
CalSTRS Takes Action to Divest of All Non-U.S. Thermal Coal Holdings l Globe News Wire
  • The Teachers’ Retirement Board recently announced the decision to divest the fund of all non-U.S. thermal coal holdings, effective July 1, 2017. The board’s action aligns with CalSTRS’ long-term global perspective and its fiduciary duty, including consideration of environmental risks – both current and those projected over the next 10 to 25+ years.
  • This article explores how, when we live in a globally integrated economy where national governments are often unwilling or unable to control corporations, governments, trade unions or environmental groups can protect people and environments from exploitation or abuse. It specifically focuses on 'shaming campaigns', divestment, and next steps.
Hundreds of Lawmakers call for NY State Pension Fund to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Times Union
  • Elected officials from across New York state are strengthening their call for the state pension system to divest from fossil fuels. Citing the environmental, economic and political ramifications of President Donald Trump's pullout from the Paris climate accord — as well as the perilous effects of inconsistent weather and more intense storms that have already befallen their cities and counties — more than 200 New York officials on Monday called on state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to divest the state Common Retirement Fund of companies that contribute to man-made climate change.
NY State Comptroller: Divestment not the Answer to Cleaner Energy l Press Republican
  • Under pressure from environmental activists to phase out billions of dollars in investments in fossil fuel companies, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Tuesday that he is in a better position to nudge companies to come up with cleaner energy solutions by holding onto the shares in them. "We believe in engagement with companies, and at this point we have no plans to divest completely," DiNapoli said in an interview. "But we have been moving more of our money into companies that are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
  • A study from an oil and gas trade group suggests it would be a bad idea for New York state to end its investments in fossil fuel companies. The report was co-authored by a University of Chicago law professor and underwritten by the Independent Petroleum Association of America. It concludes that divesting from fossil fuels would reduce the diversification of pension investments, decrease returns and increase risk.
  • Yale’s responsible investments committee will not recommend divestment from Exxon Mobil, dealing a major blow to campus activism surrounding the issue. “Exxon does not appear to be engaging in any conduct or activity that would warrant divestment,” chairman of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility Jonathan Macey LAW ’82 told the News on Friday, less than a day after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord.
Maryland Schools Must Divest (Opinion) l The Baltimore Sun
  • With President Donald Trump's recent announcement that he will pull the United States from the Paris climate agreement, it is more important now than ever that academic institutions demonstrate their commitment to climate action through investments in clean renewable energy and divestment from fossil fuels. Despite the University of Maryland's commitments to carbon neutral emissions and renewable energy power, the system is profiting from the major emitters of greenhouse gases and is even making a profit from companies that help dirty energy companies evade environmental compliance regulations.
UPenn Reaffirming its Commitment to the Environment Smells like Hypocrisy (Opinion) l Philly.com
  • With the University of Pennsylvania continuing to heavily invest in the fossil fuel and coal industries, you couldn’t help but notice the hypocrisy when Penn president Amy Gutmann signed a pledge with 11 other university leaders on Monday reaffirming its commitment to the environment. Penn Fossil Free, a student group spearheading the campaign for divestment, estimates roughly $300 million of the university’s endowment is invested in fossil fuel assets based on the university’s most recent financial report in 2014. Ever since this report was published, the student body has campaigned for the university’s divestment from fossil-fuel companies – a struggle that continues today.
Private Prison Divestment
 

NYC's Pension Fund Becomes First In Country To Divest From Private Prisons l Gothamist

  • New York City's pension fund is the first in the nation to fully divest from private prisons, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer. Trustees of the city's pension fund voted unanimously to divest in mid-May, and have since pulled $48 million of stocks and bonds from three companies: GEO Group, CoreCivic, and G4S.

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: June 2nd, 2017

New IEN Members
 
Opportunities for Action
 

Grand Coalition Statement on Paris Agreement l Second Nature

  • The Administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. It is clear that higher education, in alignment with a grand coalition of other vital sectors of the US economy, must continue to lead the nation’s climate actions. Join mayors, governors, and business leaders in demonstrating our national commitment to the principles and targets of the Paris Agreement. This joint statement is the first time that these sectors have joined together publicly in a strong show of support for climate action that is so vital to the future of our country.
  • IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The scholarship is run by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to insure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11thclick here to apply. Winners are announced in late September.  For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com
 
 
Upcoming Events

Breakfast Briefing: Environmental, Social & Governance Investing l Fund Intelligence, June 15, 2017, New York, NY
  • The US Breakfast Briefing, a free to attend event, featuring a panel-led discussion and informal networking. Join for an in-depth discussion with representatives from foundations, endowments, and asset management firms on socially responsible investing.
  • There are now 1,700 PRI signatories, from over 50 countries, with assets approaching US$62 trillion, committed to incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making. This webinar will explore how SASB standards can help PRI signatories fulfill their commitments and adhere to the values that undergird the PRI principles.
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres, and others to host a pre-Summit event focused on opportunities for investing in clean energy and climate solutions.
ICYMI -- Sustainable Agriculture Investing Webinar Recording l Intentional Endowments Network
  • If you missed our May 31st webinar, a recording is now available on our website. In this webinar, Sada Geuss will present on Trillium’s recently released White Paper on Sustainable Agriculture. Other panelists -- Maria Lettini of FAIRR, Don Wiviott of Sustainable Farm Partners, and David Miller of Iroquois Valley Farms -- will explore various aspects of risks and opportunities associated with agriculture investments.  
 
 
Higher Education Endowments ESG/SRI News
 
U.S. Colleges Have $500 Billion to Invest. Now Where Are All the Green Deals? l Bloomberg
  • U.S. college endowments altogether hold more than $500 ­billion in assets, a growing part of which they’ve allocated to sustainable or “impact” investing. Yet they also face something of a paradox: Where, exactly, does one invest that money? This article explores how the University of California invests its $100 billion portfolio, and highlights the advisory group they helped create called Aligned Intermediary Inc.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how more than 60 percent of shareholders approved a resolution asking the largest U.S. oil company to disclose more about how climate change affects its business; Investors say they think renewable energy economics will hold even if the U.S. withdraws from the Paris Agreement; Brazil green bond sales seen reaching $5 billion this year; and asks how much did exclusions cost Norway's sovereign wealth fund?
  • Nearly 80% of asset managers and asset owners incorporate ESG factors into their decision-making, according to a survey from BNP Paribas Securities Services. The report, titled “Great Expectations: ESG – What’s next for asset owners and managers,” found that among the asset owners incorporating ESG, 46% plan to invest at least half of their assets into funds that incorporate ESG by 2019.
ESG Analytics Challenge Feeds Cost Worries: Survey l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • Asset managers are concerned about the cost of incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, according to a BNP Paribas Securities Services survey. Asked about their views on barriers to deeper integration of ESG across their investment portfolios, 31% of asset managers cited costs as their biggest challenge over the next two years. It was also the single most important future barrier cited by all respondents, according to BNP Paribas. The survey was of 461 respondents, with 233 asset managers and 228 asset owners participating. The largest share of respondents was based in the US.
Doing Good and Doing Well: Faith-Based Investing Converts the Skeptics l USA Today
  • This article describes the sea change in relations between the corporate world and faith-based groups that in the 1970s spearheaded the movement for socially responsible investing.
  • This article discusses what it means to align investor values with investment decisions, sepcifically focusing on the idea of authentic investors – investors who bring a conscious awareness of their personal purpose and values to full expression in their work.
Why Impact Investing Has Reached a Tipping Point l Knowledge at Wharton
  • More major mainstream investment managers are flocking to impact investments. Already, funds invested in it are well into the tens of trillions and some foundations are committing to invest their endowments in it. Perhaps even more telling than these indicators suggesting that impact investing is heading toward the mainstream: More students are enrolled in the impact investing class of Christopher Geczy, an adjunct professor of finance at Wharton, than in his traditional investment management class. “I think we’ve reached a tipping point,” said Geczy during a panel discussion at this year’s Social Impact Conference, sponsored by Wharton’s Social Impact Initiative.
Responsible Investing: Soon to be a Mainstream Aspect of Investment l Financial Express
  • Today, Responsible Investment is undergoing a fascinating development with more asset owners wanting to make a positive societal and environmental impact with their investments, alongside financial returns. Undeniably, ESG is already part of the investing fabric and is becoming a mainstream aspect of investing today. The industry needs to see investment results and more pressure from asset owners and government, to develop.
  • One of the world’s largest mutual fund providers has entered the field of sustainable investing. Fidelity has launched two sustainability index funds, named the Fidelity U.S. Sustainability Index (FENSX), which tracks the MSCI USA ESG Index, and Fidelity International Sustainability Index (FNIYX), which follows the MSCI All Country World ex-USA ESG Index.
Shareholder Engagement
 
  • ExxonMobil management was defeated Wednesday by a shareholder rebellion over climate change, as investors with 62.3 percent of shares voted to instruct the oil giant to report on the impact of global measures designed to keep climate change to 2 degrees centigrade. The shareholder rebellion at the ExxonMobil annual meeting in Dallas was led by major financial advisory firms and fund managers who traditionally have played passive roles. Although the identity of voters wasn’t disclosed, a source familiar with the vote said that major financial advisory firm BlackRock had cast its shares in opposition to Exxon management and that Vanguard and State Street had likely done the same. All three financial giants have been openly considering casting their votes against management on this key proxy resolution.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord
 l The New York Times
  • Representatives of American cities, states and companies are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement. The unnamed group — which, so far, includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses — is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations.
Leaving the Paris Agreement Could Cripple American Businesses l Fortune
  • Pulling out of the Paris Agreement means the country won’t have to reduce its carbon emissions, which means it won’t have to invest in new wind, solar, or energy-efficiency technologies. But those technologies are where the job growth is. Solar jobs—which require lots of people to put panels on roofs—grew 25% last year, while wind jobs grew 32%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Those two industries now employ nearly 500,000 Americans. Coal mining is mostly done by machine, and now employs just 74,000 people, a decline of 39% from 2009. This article outlines several other reasons why pulling out of the Paris Agreement is bad for the US economy.
Withdrawal from Paris accord will spur interest in ESG, advisers say | Investment News
  • Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord won't lessen the need for ESG investing, financial advisers say. Rather, it will increase it. "My first reaction is a that it's bad day for the planet, a sad day for the economy, but a great day for sustainable investing,"
Trump Likely Won’t Stump Sustainable/ ESG Investing | Financial Advisor
  • There have been headlines aplenty about President Trump repealing environmental regulations through executive orders in the name of boosting business and corporate profits. But impact investing has momentum, and such policies from the top probably won’t change that in the coming years, say a number of experts in the field.
Trump’s Paris climate-accord stance may drive investors to environmental ETFs | Market Watch 
  • Exchange-traded funds dedicated to so-called environmentally friendly strategies and sectors have seen a surge of adoption under President Donald Trump, as investors look to offset an administration that isn’t viewed as supporting policies favorable to sustaining the Earth.
  • On Wednesday morning, the day of ExxonMobil’s AGM, a coalition of faith and non-faith groups are staging events to call for the Church of England to divest from the company. Hours before the resolution on climate change at ExxonMobil’s AGM in Houston, Texas - put forward by a group of institutional investors, including the Church of England – campaigners will be calling for the Church to sell its shares in the company whatever the outcome of the resolution. 
Students Occupy University of Auckland, Demanding Divestment From Fossil Fuels l Auckland Now
  • This week a climate change group took over the office of Auckland University's Vice Chancellor, protesting fossil fuel investments. Fourteen students from Fossil Free UoA sat outside Stuart McCutcheon's office in the university's clock tower building, demanding that he supports divestment from coal, oil and gas from the university's investment portfolio.
Need the University of Montana Leadership on Divestment l Missoulian
  • In this opinion piece, The University of Montana's divest campaign history is laid out, and a plea for leadership from the endowment in presented. 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: May 26th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres, and others to host a pre-Summit event focused on opportunities for investing in clean energy and climate solutions.
Webinar: Sustainable Agriculture Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, May 31st, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Sada Geuss will present on Trillium’s recently released White Paper on Sustainable Agriculture. Other panelists -- Maria Lettini of FAIRR, Don Wiviott of Sustainable Farm Partners, and David Miller of Iroquois Valley Farms -- will explore various aspects of risks and opportunities associated with agriculture investments.  
Webinar: Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing | Trillium Asset Management, Green Century, 350.orgJune 1, 2017, 1:00 PM ET
  • There are now 1,700 PRI signatories, from over 50 countries, with assets approaching US$62 trillion, committed to incorporating ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making. This webinar will explore how SASB standards can help PRI signatories fulfill their commitments and adhere to the values that undergird the PRI principles.
 
New Resources
 
  • A recent survey conducted by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) found that impact investment assets allocated to the food and agriculture sector had a compound annual growth rate of 32.5% since 2013. Using the Total Portfolio Activation approach, the paper provides a framework to help investors expand the scope of investing in sustainable food systems across common portfolio asset classes such as cash, public equities, and fixed income, as well as alternative asset classes such as private equity, venture capital, and real assets. It is the first of its kind to structure a total portfolio approach thematically around sustainable food and agriculture.

 

 
Opportunities for Education
 
  • IEN is pleased to support The SRI Conference Student Scholarship. The SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders, investors, and investment professionals who are actively integrating ESG factor analysis into investment decision-making and seeking to catalyze the shift to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable economy. The scholarship was started and is coordinated by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network alumni and longtime affiliates to bring qualified young people to The SRI Conference. Their goal is to insure that the culture, commitment, and competence of the pioneer SRI movement be sustained into the next generation. Applications are accepted through September 11thclick here to apply. Winners are announced in late September.  For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact and ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how, Following a string of successful proposals at companies including Occidental Petroleum Corp. and PPL Corp., environmentally focused shareholders are hoping this is finally the year they will be able to get a win at Exxon Mobil Corp; The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment lays out a blueprint for holding investor signatories more accountable; Building a pipeline of diverse tech workers is helped by companies that report the data, says Christina Lewis Halpern of All Star Code; Religious ETFs expand.
TCFD: What it Means for Investors and Companies (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • For the last 18 months financial heavyweights Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg have been attempting to solve one of responsible investment’s most long-running challenges – how to develop consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures from companies across all sectors, including financial services.This July, the Bloomberg/Carney Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD) will submit its final recommendations to G20 leaders in Hamburg and that report is likely to become a vital part of the global transition to a low carbon economy. This Q&A  with Rick Stathers, Head of Investor Initiatives at CDP, outlines what this will mean for portfolio companies and how this will affect reporting requirements.
Principles for Responsible Investment Outlines Goals for Next 10 Years l Pensions & Investments
  • Principles for Responsible Investment, a global network of investors advocating for sustainable investing supported by the United Nations, outlined its plans to work with asset owners to build a sustainable financial system over the next decade. In its blueprint for sustainable investing, the PRI set out a number of goals intended to empower asset owners and support investors in the integration of environmental, social and governance issues in their investments. The priorities include increasing accountability, convening and educating responsible investors, as well as challenging barriers to a sustainable financial system.
CFA Institute Investigates ESG Investment Gap l Financial Standard
  • The CFA Institute, together with the Principles for Responsible Investment, aim to investigate the remaining barriers in integrating ESG factors in investment strategies via a series of workshops covering North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia. Starting in October, workshops of participating analysts and portfolio managers from listed equities and fixed income will discuss best practices, and the challenges faced when incorporating ESG data into investment processes.
Real Estate and the Impact of ESG l The Investor
  • ESG factors are becoming increasingly important investment considerations across the entire investment management landscape. But within the real estate sector, the level of ESG incorporation, and its degree of influence, remains patchy. The latest report from the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) notes that the buildings sector contributes up to 30 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions . Yet despite property investors showing “a sophisticated use of ESG indicators in their investment strategies,” the proportion that systematically factor ESG issues throughout their investment processes remains relatively low.
Investment Manager News
 
American Impact Investing | New Summit Investments
  • Adam Seitchik lays out a vision for impact investing: "At New Summit, impact investing begins with sustainability, which is a scientific concept. Sustainability is rooted in biology and physics, and describes the limits within which a society can grow and prosper over time.  These limits, when understood and applied, provide an invaluable metric to parse investment activity. We see a world of significant opportunity and commensurate restrictions, each being the mirror of the other.  These constraints can either be gateways to new industries, products and processes or limiting factors to economic prosperity."
  • Wilshire Consulting, the institutional investment advisory and outsourced-CIO (OCIO) business unit of Wilshire Associates, announced that Daniel Ingram has been hired to serve as VP of Responsible Investment Research & Consulting. In this role, Ingram will assist in expanding Wilshire Consulting’s ESG and SRI capabilities. 
ETF Watch: Active Socially Responsible Funds Launch l ETF Watch
  • Legg Mason is rolling out today two ETFs that bring socially responsible investing and active management together—something that’s extremely rare in the ETF space. The funds, the ClearBridge Dividend Strategy ESG ETF and the ClearBridge Large Cap Growth ESG ETF, are listing on the Nasdaq with expense ratios of 0.59%. Both ETFs are subadvised by ClearBridge Investments, a Legg Mason affiliate that has 30 years of experience managing socially responsible investments.
Acadian Asset Management Launches the First Actively Managed Emerging Market Fossil Fuel Free Strategy l Business Wire
  • Acadian Asset Management LLC, a firm overseeing $82 billion in active global and international quantitative assets, announced the launch of a sustainable Emerging Markets ex Fossil Fuel strategy. This strategy is one of the first to focus on implementing this theme across emerging markets.
Morgan Stanley and The Economist Intelligence Unit Release New Index to Support Investment in Inclusive Growth l Business Wire
  • Today the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing announced the Inclusive Growth Opportunities Index, a report and interactive tool for investors to explore technology-based opportunities that support inclusive economic growth – the first in a body of work that the Institute will produce to help drive private capital toward reducing inequality. The Institute, with The Economist Intelligence Unit, developed this first of its kind index to offer investors an analytic tool on inclusive growth across four themes. The Index ranks 20 countries with compelling investment opportunities that enhance access to finance, education and healthcare, and reduce gender disparities. 
Shareholder Engagement
 
Exxon Rebuts Proxy Firms Backing Shareholder Climate Change Resolution (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Oil major ExxonMobil has issued a detailed response to proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis after they came out in support of a shareholder resolution on climate change set to be voted on at its AGM later this month – saying they “fail to recognize” that it already does address a 2-degree Celsius scenario in its disclosures. The resolution (12 on the ballot) was filed by New York State Common Retirement Fund and co-filed by the UK’s Church Commissioners.
BlackRock switch helps pass 'historic' climate measure at Occidental | Reuters
  • BlackRock Inc said on Friday that it voted in favor of a successful shareholder proposal calling for more climate change reporting by Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N), in the first sign the world's largest asset manager was backing up its tough new talk on environmental matters. Backers of the resolution called its passage a major victory, the first time such a measure succeeded at a major U.S. oil and gas company.
  • Fidelity Investments may support shareholder proxy proposals calling on companies to report on sustainability matters this year, a major shift by the Boston asset manager as climate activists gain more traction at large U.S. corporations. While Fidelity will generally vote as company managers recommend on environmental or social issues, "Fidelity may support shareholder proposals calling for reports on sustainability, renewable energy and environmental impact issues," states a new section of its proxy voting guidelines.
PPL shareholder vote backs climate change proposal | Corporate Secretary
  • Shareholders of PPL Corporation have asked the utility company to produce reports on how it will be affected by efforts to limit climate change, despite the board of governors opposing such a move. PPL reports that 56.8% of votes, not taking into account abstentions, backed the motion at the company’s recent annual shareholder meeting.


General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News
  • A growing number of universities are lowering the rates of return they expect to earn on their endowments, which could be paired with other important decisions on endowment spending policies, investment strategies and fund-raising demands, according to Moody’s Investors Service. More and more universities are dropping their assumed nominal endowment returns to a range of 6 percent to 7 percent, Moody’s said in a report Friday. In the past, universities have typically assumed returns of 8 percent to 9 percent when crafting their spending plans.
Wesleyan’s College of the Environment Receives $4 Million Gift l News at Wesleyan
  • Essel Bailey ’66 believes that science is the foundation for addressing questions of environmental policy, which aptly describes the purpose of Wesleyan’s College of the Environment. Now, he and his wife, Menakka, have increased their support of the COE with a new $4 million commitment to its programs, faculty and students – bringing their total gift to the COE to $7.5 million.
Community Colleges Offer Lessons in Diversifying the Presidency (Opinion) l The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • The Aspen Institute’s goals are laudable and community colleges certainly have much work to do to achieve gender and racial equity in the presidency — but it seems to me the Aspen Institute might focus as well on the four-year colleges and universities, whose achievements toward gender and racial equity in the presidency are far more sparse than that of community colleges. Today, the proportion of community-college presidents who are women and/or people of color is impressive compared to the four-year sector. It would be wise for the Aspen Institute to recognize the history and build upon it.

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
China, EU and Canada Form Climate Pact as Trump Stands Alone l Bloomberg
  • China, Canada and the European Union are joining forces to advance the Paris Agreement while President Donald Trump is still deciding whether the U.S. should stick with the landmark deal on climate change. Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna, EU Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua are meeting Tuesday in Berlin to discuss climate leadership and how to maintain momentum if the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Agreement. In September, the three will convene a ministerial-level meeting in support of the Paris accord, Canete said in an email.
Climate Lab Videos l University of California Climate Investing Initiative
  • In this six part video series follow conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan as he explores surprising ways to change how we think and act about climate change.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Harvard Management Company Eschews Fossil Fuel Investments l Chief Investment Officer 
  • Harvard Management Company’s head of natural resources said the university’s $35.7 billion endowment is “pausing” investments in some natural resources, such as fossil fuels. “Never say never—but I doubt that we would ever make a direct investment with fossil fuels,” Colin Butterfield, managing director of natural resources for Harvard Management Company, said at a Harvard Business School event, according to The Harvard Crimson. “For now, we are pausing minerals and oil and gas,” he added. In November, Bloomberg Newsreported that Harvard was seeking to sell natural resources assets after the portfolio lost more than 10% last year. The university was looking to restructure the $4 billion of holdings to free up cash for other investments, according to the report.
Divest BU Asks Alumni to Withhold Donations to University l The Daily Free Press
  • Divest BU is asking Boston University alumni to withhold their donations from BU until the school completely divests from the fossil fuel industry, according to the social media campaign the group launched Thursday. The group hopes the new plan will halt the flow of funds to the university and force the Board of Trustees to fully divest from oil and gas companies, Divest BU’s head of campus engagement Ivan Badanjak said.
Queen's University Belfast Announces New Responsible Investment Policy l Queen's University Belfast
  • Queen’s University Belfast has reinforced its commitment to environmental sustainability by joining other universities across the globe in aspiring to divest from fossil fuels. Following discussions with the Students’ Union, the University has updated its investment policy and will, subject to no detrimental impact on expected investment returns, seek to divest from companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels by 2025.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: May 19th, 2017

Upcoming Events

  • This full day program will deliberate on best practices in impact investing, and how they generate measurable social, environmental and economic results through bridging the gap between purpose and profit. Georges Dyer will be speaking on a panel titled "The Power of the SDG: How It Might Align Performance and Scale Risk Control."
Webinar: Sustainable Agriculture Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, May 31st, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Sada Geuss, an Investment Manager from Trillium Asset Management, will present on Trillium’s recently released White Paper on Sustainable Agriculture. Maria Lettini, Director of the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative, will focus on the risks associated with investments in factory farming and the animal protein sector, and will offer some examples of diversification of the protein supply chain. Don Wiviott, Partner at Sustainable Farm Partners, will discuss the investment opportunities in grain production and carbon capture. 
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. IEN will be partnering with Big Path, Ceres, and others to host a pre-Summit event focused on opportunities for investing in clean energy and climate solutions. 
Webinar: Introducing "Investing in Peace" | Investing in Peace, May 31, 2017, 1pm EDT
  • This webinar will provide an introduction to "Investing in Peace" an organization that seeks to encourage individuals, communities, enterprises and government to do more to promote peace. It will include information on their upcoming Investors Conference in July in Switzerland. 
 
 
IEN in the News
 
Women Stakeholders, DAPL and Socially Responsible Investing l EcoWatch
  • The McKinsey Global Institute's report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women's Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth, concluded that, "Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women … do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer." According to the report, 95% of company CEOs are still male and of the 22,000 global firms that were reviewed, 60% failed to have any women on their boards. This article highlights IEN's recent Gender Lens Investing Webinar, the risks associated with investments in DAPL, and how ESG Investing is entering the mainstream.
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Investors Torn Over ESG Capabilities l Financial Standards
  • The Australian National University has altered its commitment to socially responsible investing after changing the manner in which its domestic equities investments are managed. While the university committed to divesting from several resource and mining companies in 2014, in October 2015 the ANU Council approved the appointment of an external portfolio manager to manage its domestic equities portfolio, removing itself completely from individual stock selection.
  • A Melbourne university appointed Mercer as its new investment manager and awarded $215 million to two of the investment manager's socially responsible funds. A stronger environmental, social and corporate governance focus will see Swinburne University of Technology invest in Mercer's Socially Responsible Global Shares and Socially Responsible Australian Shares Funds.
  • According to a Knight Foundation report, women and minority-owned money management firms are getting shut out of the asset management industry–not just by philanthropies, but by public funds, high-net-worth individual and family offices, and especially corporate interests. The group hopes the change that practice across the entire investment landscape by calling more attention to it. About $71.4 trillion in assets under management exist within the U.S. market, generating $100 billion in returns annually. To figure out who was managing what, Knight commissioned an analysis of activity for the four main types of funds: hedge, mutual, private equity, and real estate.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive officer Jamie Dimon and other business leaders are getting appeals from shareholder advocates who don’t want to lose their access to the corporate ballot; Fidelity Investments, the $2.2 trillion Boston-based asset manager, launched two new sustainability-focused index funds; and Sustainable investors were willing buyers for a green bond issued by Repsol SA, despite concerns about it funding a fossil fuel company's operations.
Shortlist of Best Asset Owner and Manager Reporters Announced Ahead of RI Awards Dinner l Responsible Investor
  • The shortlists for the world’s best asset owner and asset manager reporters in responsible investment has been published ahead of the landmark RI Awards gala dinner in London on the evening of June 6, where the winners will be announced. The RI Awards, in partnership with Refine Research, were established in 2013 to create an aspirational benchmark for asset owners and asset managers by encouraging and recognizing best practice and transparency in responsible investment reporting.
How To Invest Your Money Responsibly, Sustainably, Or For Impact (They’re Not The Same) l Fast Company
  • This article introduces the risk and return profiles for several investment options including public equities, peer-to-peer platforms, and community investing.
Investment Manager News
Fidelity Gets Social-Minded With New Index Funds l Boston Business Journal
  • That other asset management giant in town has gotten a lot of attention lately for its “fearless” female-focused investment policies. Now, Fidelity Investments is making some social-minded moves of its own. Fidelity on Monday rolled out its first-ever index funds focused on sustainability. It had one actively managed fund focused on environmental, social and governance — or ESG — issues, as well as its FundsNetwork program that enables customers to invest in mutual funds from other companies. The new funds come several months after fellow Boston asset manager State Street Corp. (NYSE: STT) garnered international acclaim for its Fearless Girl statue in New York City.
State Street and TruValue Labs Partner to Improve Availability and Transparency of ESG Data for Investors l Business Wire
  • State Street Corporation and TruValue Labs, a provider of artificial intelligence-driven ESG data, today announced an agreement to promote the adoption of industry-standard ESG data produced according to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) framework. TruValue Labs leverages artificial intelligence to review thousands of information sources each day and provide signals founded on real-time sustainability data analytics to investors, financial institutions and corporations. As part of the agreement, State Street will gain access to one of TruValue Labs’ ESG signals, based on SASB’s industry-leading materiality framework, which identifies sustainability issues at the industry level.
Impax Asset Management’s Assets Surge to New Record (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Impax Asset Management has seen its assets under management reach a new peak of £6bn (€7bn) as at the end of April. It had total net inflows of £870m during the six months to the end of March. Revenue rose to £13.9m against £9.4m in the prior year period while pre-tax profit grew to £2.4m against £2.1m. CEO Ian Simm said: “Our AUM has now reached a new peak of £6bn and we can report record net inflows and significant progress with fundraising for our new private equity renewable infrastructure fund.”
Morgan Stanley Investment Management Raises Over $125M for Global Impact Fund l Finsmes
  • Morgan Stanley Investment Management raised more than $125m for its maiden global impact fund. Launched in partnership with the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, PMF Integro Fund I invests in private equity funds that offer the potential for compelling financial return while demonstrating positive environmental impact, social impact or both. The fund is managed by AIP Private Markets, the private markets solutions team within Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
AIG Introduces New Environmental, Social and Governance Fund l Business Wire
  • American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) today announced the recent launch of a fund designed to provide socially and environmentally conscious investors with total return, including capital appreciation and current income, while investing in companies that meet certain ESG standards. The AIG ESG Dividend Fund is a large-cap value fund that provides investors the opportunity to achieve returns based on dividend yield as well as a combination of factors that relate to profitability, valuation and ESG standards.
  • The report provides information on how JPMC is addressing the ESG issues that they and their stakeholders view as among the most important to their business.  It is intended to be a companion to their 2016 Annual Report and 2017 Proxy Statement.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Occidental Shareholders Vote for Climate Proposal -- Update l Fox Business
  • Shareholders of Occidental Petroleum Corp. voted last week to ask that the company assess the long-term impacts of climate change on its business. Occidental opposed the proposal, which calls for an annual report starting in 2018 that includes environment-related scenario planning. One of those evaluations would be assessing the risks the company could face under efforts to limit global warming to a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius.
BlackRock Switch Helps Pass 'Historic' Climate Measure at Occidental l Reuters
  • BlackRock Inc said on Friday that it voted in favor of a successful shareholder proposal calling for more climate change reporting by Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N), in the first sign the world's largest asset manager was backing up its tough new talk on environmental matters. Backers of the resolution called its passage a major victory, the first time such a measure succeeded at a major U.S. oil and gas company. Proponents said they were pleased by BlackRock's support, which they had sought.
  • This year’s U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index highlights state and city leaders that are playing an outsized role in the shift towards a cleaner energy mix. Last year, due to a range of economic and policy factors, wind and solar power represented 61 percent of all new electricity generating capacity installed in the U.S. (for the second year in a row).
General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News
 
Colleges Should Put Their Money Where Their Ideals Are (Opinion from Barnard College) l The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Climate change is fundamentally tied to our basic economic, social, and political systems. Colleges and universities should be confronting this immense challenge from every angle and recognizing that targeted divestment and campus sustainability go hand in hand. In the face of climate change, "no one office or person can be responsible, and no person or office can be exempt — from students to curriculum, facilities, dining services, and the financial and investment arms of the college," we all share the responsibility to take action. Only with such an all-encompassing commitment can we hope to tackle the daunting challenge of climate change.
Johnson Leaves Becker with Bigger Endowment, Smarter Students l WBJ Journal
  • This article outlines Robert Johnson's time at Becker College and what lies ahead as he transitions to UMass Dartmouth.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 

Faculty Senate Passes University of Buffalo Fossil Free's Divestment Resolution l The Spectrum

  • The Faculty Senate passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the UB Foundation (UBF) to divest its funds from fossil fuels. Fossil Free UB began the divestment campaign last year. The resolution passed 28-2 by voters in the Student Association, Graduate Student Association and the SUNY-wide SA. It calls for UBF to divest in fossil fuels and reinvest in “socially responsible” investments. The resolution also asks for quarterly updates on the foundation’s divestment.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: May 12th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
GPP Webinar: Innovative Financing Options & the University Solar Deployment Process l Green Power Partnership, May 17th, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Experts from the University of Utah and the University of South Florida will discuss different financing options such as student fees, green revolving funds, endowment funding, stakeholder donations, and unique alumni and community arrangements.
  • This full day program will deliberate on best practices in impact investing, and how they generate measurable social, environmental and economic results through bridging the gap between purpose and profit. Georges Dyer will be speaking on a panel titled "The Power of the SDG: How It Might Align Performance and Scale Risk Control."
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. The biggest transfer of wealth in human history has started. Over the next 35 years as an unprecedented $58.7 trillion dollars of wealth transfers to women and millennials, who factor a company's social and environmental impact into their investing decisions at a dramatically higher rate. 
New Resources
 
The Value of Corporate Purpose: A Guide for CEOs and Entrepreneurs l KKS Advisors & The Generation Foundation
  • Many companies are now seeking a way to signal their purpose; their reason for being beyond profits. In doing so, some companies have chosen to become certified B Corps or adopt alternative legal forms, such as the Public Benefit Corporation. But why do companies choose to signal their commitment to society and what are the potential mechanisms to do so? This research suggests that the answer lies in understanding the nexus of purpose, authenticity, trust and value. Purpose could drive customer, employee and investor choices as long as that purpose is authentic.
  • The GIIN Initiative for Institutional Impact Investment aims to support the meaningful participation of institutional asset owners in the impact investing market and ultimately increase the amount of institutional capital allocated to impact investments globally. Leveraging the resources and expertise of the GIIN, the GIIN membership, and other industry bodies, the Initiative seeks to remove key bottlenecks common to institutions active in or entering the impact investing market. The GIIN is collaborating with and building on the work of other relevant industry groups as part of this Initiative. Industry partners include PRI and the Intentional Endowments Network.
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how French President-elect Emmanuel Macron's commitment to clean energy could drive $54 billion of investment and come as a salve to investors and companies worried about the future of the United States support for the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change; Apple and Wal-Mart Executives took the top spots for executive pay in 2016; A Dunkin' Donuts shareholder environmental proposal got double-digit support but failed to pass; and investors target all-white, male C-suite at TJX Cos.
  • The SASB Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 non-profit that is responsible for the funding and oversight of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), today announced the nine members of the inaugural SASB Standards Board. The SASB Standards Board is accountable for the due process, outcomes, and ratification of the SASB standards, including any changes to the standards going forward. Members are listed in the article.
  • The de-coupling of CO2 emissions from GDP growth means that the energy driving the economy is either being used more efficiently, or it is being produced through more environmentally-friendly methods. Across regions, the overall stabilisation in emissions is driven by different factors, so it is useful to examine where the various regions are in their journey toward reducing emissions.
ESG Is Not An Investment Strategy l Financial Advisor
  • Contrary to what many may think, ESG is not an investment strategy. Rather, it’s a data tool. While many investors use ESG data to capture a set of values around which an investment strategy may be organized, it is most commonly used by institutional investors to detect material risks and opportunities associated with potential investments. In a recent CAIA survey, 77% of respondents thought that responsible investing had grown in significance in the prior three years, and a like number thought it would be even more significant three years from now.  
  • Impact investing and sustainable investment solutions are becoming more and more popular on Wall Street. But there is a misconception that these solutions, which consider the environmental and social impact of investments, are not focused on getting the most return on investors' capital. Derek Bingham is the head of GS Sustain Americas, Goldman Sachs' US "research product team focused on global quality." Bingham's team seeks to identify the sustainability measures that best align with returns in the long term.
 
 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 
  • The role of impact investing and the SDGs are discussed in this Q&A with Katherine St. Onge, Senior Officer on the Investor Relations team of Calvert Foundation.
  • Toniic Institute, the global action community for impact investors, today released the first version of the Toniic SDG Impact Theme Framework at the Confluence Philanthropy 7th Annual Practitioners Gathering in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Framework links 11 macro impact investing themes, and 55 sub-themes, to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal of the framework, the development of which Toniic will curate as a public good, is to allow impact investors to align their investments with the SDGs and thereby find greater alignment and synergy in global investment opportunities.
 
 
Investment Manager News
 
  • Impax has been running three model portfolios based on modifications to the MSCI World Index, which reduce Exploration and Production (“E&P”) exposure to varying degrees, and in order to preserve energy price (factor) exposure, replace it with Energy Efficiency stocks. In this paper, they report on the model’s continuing development and discuss why, over the past 18 months, reinvesting fossil fuel exposure in energy efficiency exposed equities has outperformed a “do nothing” approach. Since inception, the model portfolios have performed slightly better than the market with the full divestment option performing delivering a return of 45bps in excess of the “do nothing” MSCI World index, with limited impact on tracking error. 
Community Capital Management's CRA Qualified Investment Fund Exceeds $2 Billion In Assets l PR Newswire
  • Community Capital Management, Inc., a leading fixed income impact investing manager, today announced that its flagship CRA Qualified Investment Fund has exceeded $2 billion in assets. We are excited and proud to share with our clients and industry partners that the CRA Qualified Investment Fund has reached another important milestone, surpassing $2 billion in assets," said David Sand, chief investment strategist of CCM. "Reaching this level is a testament to the increasing demand for impact investments and the many investors specifically looking for fixed income impact investments."
How Can Impact Investors Help Confront Racial Injustice l Zevin Asset Management
  • Zevin Asset Man­age­ment is explor­ing how racial injus­tice inter­sects with invest­ment cap­i­tal and the pri­vate sec­tor. Pat Tomaino’s new piece on Medium .com reviews the risks to com­pa­nies, acknowl­edg­ing that firms are often part of the problem.
 
 
General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News
 
  • More than 30 college and university presidents have weighed in on climate change policy, signing a letter asking state and federal elected officials to try to put in place some type of carbon pricing to charge for greenhouse gas emissions. Presidents of Dickinson, Pitzer, Swarthmore and Vassar Colleges, as well as Wesleyan University and the University of California, Berkeley, are among those signing the letter. It says that climate change makes students’ futures uncertain and that carbon pricing is a step that can fight climate change.
Harvard Said to Seek Sale of $2.5B in Endowment Assets l MSN
  • Harvard University’s endowment is trying to sell about $2.5 billion of private equity, venture capital and real estate investments, according to a person familiar with the matter. Bloomberg's Michael McDonald reports on "Bloomberg Markets."
  • West Virginia State University recently announced it will sue The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) for contaminating the groundwater under the University’s campus. The lawsuit concerns three hazardous chemicals that have migrated into the groundwater beneath the University from Dow's Institute plant. Several other companies that have or had operations at the Institute plant are also named as defendants. 
 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
The Business Case for the Paris Climate Accord l The New York Times
  • President Trump faces a choice that will echo across his presidency and beyond: whether to remain in the Paris climate agreement. In a recent barrage of public letters and full-page ads, Fortune 100 companies are voicing strong support for remaining in the Paris accord. The breadth of this coalition is remarkable: industries from oil and gas to retail, mining, utilities, agriculture, chemicals, information and automotive. This is as close as big business gets to a consensus position.
G7 and G20 Urged to Stand by Paris Climate Accord | PRI, Ceres, IIGGC, IGCC and CDP
  • The PRI, Ceres, IIGGC, IGCC and CDP are coordinating an investor letter organized as a response to US threats to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The letter, which will be sent to the G7 and G20 governments – calls for the implementation of the accord, policies to drive investment in the low-carbon transition and green investment, and implementation of the FSB Task Force recommendations. Signatory investors include Amundi, Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, Aviva Investors, AXA Group, Caisse des Dépôts Groupe, ERAFP, Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites, HSBC Global Asset Management, RobecoSAM and Schroders. Join 216 investors representing US$15 trillion who have already signed. Deadline June 30, 2017. For details on how to add your institution to this list, and instructions on how to review a copy of the letter, please visit:  https://www.tfaforms.com/4612398 Please visit IEN's Sign-On Opportunities page for more on this and other investor letters and statements. 
Can Colleges Create a Climate for Pricing Carbon? l Huffington Post
  • The presidents of thirty U.S. colleges and universities recently signed a letter giving their support to the student-driven #PutAPriceOnIt campaign that is coordinated by Our Climate. Signatories so far include the presidents of Dickinson, Swarthmore, Pitzer, Wesleyan, Vassar, Fordham, Macalester, UC Berkeley and twenty-two others. They are hoping to be joined by 500 of their peers before the year is over. A goal of the initiative is to catalyze dialogue about climate change solutions on college campuses that will add to and amplify national conversations, helping to push through the existing stalemate and realize effective federal and state level action.
California is About to Revolutionize Climate Policy … Again l Vox
  • California’s ambition on climate change policy has become dizzying to track. A few months ago, the leader of the senate introduced a bill that would commit the state to 100 percent renewable energy — and that’s not even the biggest California climate policy story of 2017. The biggest story broke yesterday, though it didn’t make much of a splash and will likely sneak under the public’s radar. Cap and trade is the focus of a crucially important new bill. This article details the bill and what it could mean for California's cap and trade program.
U.S. Bluntly Rebuffs Queries on Climate l Bloomberg
  • The Trump administration, responding to skepticism about its commitment to the Paris climate accord from China and other countries, bluntly told them that it is putting American jobs first. In a formal response to queries filed with the United Nations, the administration President Donald Trump left little doubt that it is taking a different approach in tone and substance from former President Barack Obama. It said its pro-jobs agenda takes priority and that it would continue to roll back environmental regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions.
Seeing a Threat to Paris Accord, CalPERS Urges Countries to Commit to Climate Pact l The Sacramento Bee
  • The California Public Employees’ Retirement System joined more than 150 other international investors in a letter Sunday urging the world’s largest economies to remain committed to the 2015 climate change accord known as the Paris Agreement. The letter is both a sign that investors consider the pact to be in jeopardy and an example of the shareholder activism that CalPERS has highlighted this year while it faced calls from environmental activists to divest from certain energy companies.
Big Investors Urge Trump to Stick with Paris Climate Accord l WIBQ
  • Investors with more than $15 trillion of assets under management urged governments led by the United States to implement the Paris climate accord to fight climate change despite U.S. President Donald Trump's threats to pull out. "As long-term institutional investors, we believe that the mitigation of climate change is essential for the safeguarding of our investments," according to the letter signed by 214 institutional investors and published on Monday. "We urge all nations to stand by their commitments to the Agreement," it said. Signatories of the letter included the California Public Employees Retirement System and other pension funds from Sweden to Australia.
  • A new study suggests that Alaska, with its huge stretches of tundra and forest, may be shifting from a net sink, or storehouse, of carbon to a net source. The study focused on one possible cause: warmer temperatures that keep the Arctic tundra from freezing until later in the fall, allowing plant respiration and microbial decomposition — processes that release carbon dioxide — to continue longer.
The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners l Bloomberg
  • This article explores how sea level rise in Florida could reduce demand, decrease financing opportunities, lower the tax base and cause reduction in government services-- all before the sea consumes a single house.
Clean Energy
 
U.S. Wind Energy Installations Surge: A New Turbine Rises Every 2.4 Hours l Inside Climate News
  • Every two and a half hours, workers installed a new wind turbine in the United States during the first quarter of 2017, marking the strongest start for the wind industry in eight years, according to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released on May 2. Nationwide, wind provided 5.6 percent of all electricity produced in 2016, an amount of electricity generation that has more than doubled since 2010. Much of the demand for new wind energy generation in recent years has come from Fortune 500 companies including Home Depot, GM, Walmart and Microsoft that are buying wind energy in large part for its low, stable cost.
Stunning Drops in Solar and Wind Costs Turn Global Power Market Upside Down l Think Progress
  • In just one year, the cost of solar generation worldwide dropped on average 17 percent, according to a new report from the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The average costs for onshore wind dropped 18 percent last year, while those for offshore wind fell a whopping 28 percent. The result is “more bang for the buck,” as the U.N. and BNEF put it. Last year saw 138.5 gigawatts of new renewable capacity. That not only beat the 2015 record of 127.5 GW, but it was built with a total investment that was 23 percent lower than in 2015.
Tesla’s Solar Roof Sets Musk’s Grand Unification Into Motion l Bloomberg
  • Tesla has begun taking orders for its transformative new solar roof. The pricing is competitive, and it marks the final piece in Elon Musk’s vision for a grand unification of his clean-energy ambitions—combining solar power, home batteries, and electric cars. “These are really the three legs of the stool for a sustainable energy future,” Musk said. “Solar power going to a stationary battery pack so you have power at night, and then charging an electric vehicle … you can scale that to all the world’s demand.”
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
In Face of Government Apathy, Activists Launch Wave of Global Divestment Actions | Common Dreams
  • Intensifying the global demand for nations and institutions to move away from fossil fuels, campaigners last Friday launched ten days of direct actions calling for divestment from the companies most responsible for the climate crisis. From New Zealand to South Africa to Ecuador and beyond, thousands are expected to take part in the Global Divestment Mobilization, which will include actions in 39 countries across six continents.
  • At the culmination of a two-week, student-led protest advocating for the University of Colorado Boulder to divest from fossil fuels, Fossil Free CU member P.D. Gantert said the group won the divestment fight despite the university's refusal to financially cut ties with the oil and gas industry. "It's absolutely miraculous what we've done in the last two weeks," Gantert said as he marched through the campus. "Now people on this campus actually know what this issue is. We've changed the conversation. We've won."
University of California Santa Barbara Students Sit in For Fossil Fuel Divestment l Santa Barbara Independent
  • Students from UCSB walked into Cheadle Hall, the campus administration building, and are sitting in to pressure UC Regent Sherman to divest the $2.8 billion the UC currently has invested in fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free UCSB coordinated the effort to bring students from every corner of campus to the sit in. UCSB’s chancellor, Henry Yang, embraces the campaign.

Chancellor Yang Agrees To Endorse $3 Billion UC Divestment From Fossil Fuels After 72-Hour Sit-In l Daily Nexus

  • Nearly 60 hours into a sit-in staged by student activists, Chancellor Henry T. Yang has agreed to publicly endorse UC divestment of nearly $3 billion from fossil fuel companies, making him the first-ever UC chancellor to take an active stance in favor of divestment.
Gonzaga University Students Call on University to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Spokesman Review
  • Joining a growing campaign on college campuses across the U.S., Gonzaga University student leaders are calling on the Spokane school to divest its $200 million-plus endowment from fossil fuels. The Gonzaga Student Body Association Senate voted last week for a resolutionasking the university’s board of trustees to remove endowment investments from the 200 most carbon-intensive companies by 2020. That list includes Coal India, Gazprom, PetroChina, ExxonMobil and BP.
  • The global campaign to encourage investors to ditch fossil fuel will secure another high-profile victory today with confirmation nine leading Catholic organizations are to divest from coal, oil and gas.
Trump Tower Rally Demands Divestment Ahead of Decision on Paris Climate Deal l The Guardian
  • Environmental activists held a rally inside Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, ahead of an expected decision from the president on whether to leave the Paris climate change agreement. About 90 people gathered in a public garden on the fifth floor of Donald Trump’s building in midtown Manhattan to encourage the New York City government to divest its pension funds from fossil fuel companies. Organizers from environmental group 350.org said individual states and local councils can still take action on climate change, even in the face of a government that seems ambivalent on the subject.
Divest Dartmouth Members Gather in Hanlon's Office Hours l The Dartmouth
  • This week, approximately 20 students gathered at College President Phil Hanlon’s open office hours to demonstrate support for fossil fuel divestment. In an email publicizing the demonstration, members of Divest Dartmouth wrote that while they have attended Hanlon’s office hours multiple times this year, each time, they left Parkhurst Hall “frustrated with [Hanlon’s] lack of transparency and obvious stalling tactics.” As a result, the group made efforts to recruit “new faces” in order to show Hanlon the extent of student body support of fossil fuel divestment as a move toward climate justice, according to the email.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: May 5th, 2017

Upcoming Events

Webinar: How Investors Integrate ESG: A Typology of Approaches l ICCR, Sustainalytics, May 8, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT

  • A new report examining how investors integrate ESG factors into their portfolios finds that investors are leveraging a diverse set of integration strategies. Based on an analysis of the investment practices of 70 institutional investors with total assets under management of $19.9 trillion, the report presents the first-ever typology for classifying the approaches that investors are taking to integrate ESG factors into their investment processes. Download the research here.
Impact Investing Program: Driving Social Purpose Through Measurable Investment Returns l Skytop Strategies, May 24, 2017, Washington D.C.
  • This full day program will deliberate on best practices in impact investing, and how they generate measurable social, environmental and economic results through bridging the gap between purpose and profit. Georges Dyer will be speaking on a panel titled "The Power of the SDG: How It Might Align Performance and Scale Risk Control."
 

Opportunities For Action
 
Protect Shareholders. Strike the Financial Choice Act 2.0. l As You Sow
  • Shareholder democracy is being profoundly threatened by Section 844 of the proposed Financial CHOICE Act 2.0. This new legislation, which could be voted on as early as May 2, would fundamentally impair investors' rights to file shareholder resolutions. The new rule would permit only a tiny fraction of the globe’s wealthiest investors (those who own more than 1% of more of a company’s stock) to file shareholder proposals. Sign this petition to protect shareholder rights.
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. 
Higher Education Backs Low Carbon USA l Second Nature
  • Building on a January letter to the new leadership in DC, Second Nature has worked with partners to create a new public site for this letter that demonstrates its alignment with over 1,000 business leaders under the banner of Low Carbon USA. If your institution would like to participate, please submit via the form on the linked website.
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Intentional Endowments Network Builds Momentum | IEN
  • Endowments are getting serious about factoring ESG considerations into their investment process. Just over a year ago the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) -- a peer network that supports endowment investment practices that address ESG and sustainability factors to enhance both financial returns and align with institutional mission and values -- launched its membership program with 77 Founding Members...“The Intentional Endowments Network has been instrumental in advancing our progress on ESG and sustainable investing at the San Francisco State University (SFSU) Foundation,” said IEN Founding Member Robert Nava, Vice President of University Advancement at SFSU.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how one month after the U.S. presidential election, sustainable ETFs saw a surge in asset inflows. Now 100 days into Donald Trump's presidency, they face a test about how they will perform; Lender ING Groep NV is diving into bank loans that link borrower interest rates to ESG ratings; Putnam Investments taps Katherine Collins to lead its sustainability team; The costs of divesting fossil fuel stocks; and the fearless girl statue earns millions in free media for State Street.
First-Ever Typology Helps Investors Navigate Varied Approaches to ESG Integration l Yahoo Finance
  • A new report examining how investors integrate ESG factors into their portfolios finds that investors are leveraging a diverse set of integration strategies. Based on an analysis of the investment practices of 70 institutional investors with total assets under management of $19.9 trillion, the report presents the first-ever typology for classifying the approaches that investors are taking to integrate ESG factors into their investment processes.
Impact-Investing Benchmarks Finally Arrive l Barron's
  • The global investment firm Cambridge Associates has unveiled its real asset impact-investing benchmarks in real estate, infrastructure, and timber. The new benchmarks “focus on the financial performance of the private funds, categorizing them by year and size,” says Jessica Matthews, managing director at Cambridge Associates. But the firm also parses its benchmarks and promise to deliver “a deep-dive analysis” on intended impacts.
  • When the index provider FTSE first started integrating environmental and sustainability factors into indices back in 2001, the landscape for ESG investments looked drastically different. Just over 15 years later, Tony Campos, who leads FTSE Russell’s ESG business in the Americas, said interest in integrating ESG factors into investment decisions has evolved from something only a small group of investors cared about into a phenomenon that has become widely accepted by many companies and asset owners. In this article, he describes what he ha learned about the. space.
Socially Responsible Dividends In An ETF l ETF.com
  • Columbia Threadneedle has 14 ETFs on the market today commanding more than $1 billion in total assets. Among them are three ETFs that launched last year, and merge environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing with a dividend focus. It’s equity income meets socially responsible investing, if you will. In this article, Ed Kerschner, Columbia’s chief portfolio strategist, walks through the process behind blending these two investing themes in search of one single outcome: finding sustainable income.
NYC Comptroller Seeks Investment Managers for Sustainable Investing
 l Chief Investment Officer
  • The NYC Comptroller’s Office, on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, said it is seeking index managers who can proactively account for, and focus on, various types of indexes, including low-carbon investments, and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors. “Climate change is real, the science is real, and the threat to both our planet and the global economy is real,” said Scott Stringer in a statement. “When we invest in companies that recognize the irrefutable realities of global warming, we’re making smart investment decisions and boosting returns.”
Modern Portfolio Theory “Ill-Equipped” to Aid ESG Integration – OECD (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), one of the cornerstones of traditional portfolio management, is “ill-equipped” to model environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. MPT was introduced by economist Harry Markowitz in the 1950s, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, but the OECD backs the view that it’s “unsupportive” of the integration of ESG into investment governance.
Trustee Guidance on ESG l Better Society Network
  • UKSIF has published a guide for DB pension fund trustees on their fiduciary duties, highlighting the fact that the Pensions Regulator now requires trustees to consider ESG where it is financially material. Sponsored by HSBC GAM, the guide explores the range of ESG factors which may be financially material to investors, including 14 ESG themes, and follows a 2015 meta-study by Arabesque (an UKSIF member) and the University of Oxford drawing a clear correlation between consideration of ESG factors and outperformance.
Fiduciary Duty
 
The Rise of the Future Makers l Investment Magazine
  • How asset owners are balancing their fiduciary duties with pragmatic responses to the demands of activist stakeholders was the topic of a recent roundtable, hosted by Investment Magazine and sponsored by Mercer. Framing ESG integration as a risk management tool means that even if some stakeholders don’t like certain investment decisions, they understand the framework in which they were made. This article describes the discussions that took place in the roundtable.
Shareholder Engagement
 
A Radical Proposal For Shareholder Democracy l Forbes
  • Proxy voting comes with a cost, in paper and in legal bills, and it looks quixotic to the folks who run corporations. Here’s a radical idea: have fund companies flow through voting power to their customers. On your account profile screen you'd have the option of directing proxies for all the shares you indirectly own to some player with the time and motivation to rattle directors' cages, for example, the Sierra Club or the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
Higher Education Sustainability News
 

Gund Family Donates $6 Million to Create Institute for Environment at UVM l The University of Vermont

  • A $6 million gift from the Gund family – with a challenge to raise even more from other donors – will create the University of Vermont’s first university-wide sustainability institute and accelerate UVM’s longstanding commitment to the environment. Designed to catalyze interdisciplinary research at UVM, the new initiative also will connect scholars with government, business and societal leaders to address urgent sustainability issues around the globe. 
 
 
General Endowment News

Wealthy universities fear GOP will end their tax breaks | Campus Reform
  • America’s wealthiest universities appear intent on protecting tax breaks for their endowments in response to mounting conservative criticism of the multi-billion-dollar loophole. At the beginning of 2015, just two universities with endowments valued at $1 billion or more (“wealthy” universities) reported lobbying Congress on the tax treatment of their endowments, but by the first quarter of 2017, that number had risen to 18 amidst escalating criticism of the hefty exemptions.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Businesses Urge Trump to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Agreement l American Sustainable Business Council
  • Businesses recognize that the Paris agreement provides the best solution to date for tackling climate change. Climate change challenges the security and economic well-being of the United States, in addition to threatening grave environmental and humanitarian challenges worldwide. Rising seas, changing weather patterns, and the northward migration of tropical diseases will harm U.S. businesses and individuals. Some of these costs will be born directly by business. Other costs will be born indirectly for example as a result of tax increases to repair and harden our transportation infrastructure. Denying the reality of climate change does not make these costs go away; the costs just get bigger the longer we drag our heels.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Resister’s Digest: The Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Scores Big Wins l In These Times
  • The divestment movement has quietly notched some big wins lately and is channeling momentum from last week’s People’s Climate March into a Global Divestment Mobilization week, May 5-13. The mobilization, a project of 350.org, will publicize “the moral urgency to divest from fossil fuels” and seek to broaden the movement’s global impact.
Divestment's Price Tag: Higher Tuition, Fewer Services at Universities, Lower Payments for Pensioners l PR Newswire
  • Numerous reports have explored the transaction costs and returns of fossil fuel divestment for universities and pension funds to undertake, but little research has calculated how this impact affects the people that matter most: students, faculty, and retirees. A new report commissioned by the Independent Petroleum Association of America quantifies the price of divestment for these groups.
Fossil Fuel-Funded Report Shows Industry Making Its Last Stand | YubaNet
  • On Monday, the Independent Petroleum Association of America issued a new report arguing that fossil fuel divestment is costly for students, pensioners, and stakeholders. In the last few years, multiple reports from financial and legal experts, such as Corporate Knights, the Center for International Environmental Law, Trillium Asset Management, and Mercer, reveal that major university endowments and pension funds, such as those of Harvard University and New York State, have or will incur billions in losses from continued investments in fossil fuels.
Lehigh University Students’s Call for Divestment Goes Unanswered l The Brown and White
  • This fall, Lehigh’s Green Action club protested on the UC Front Lawn urging the board of trustees to reduce the amount of fossil fuel companies Lehigh invests in. While the protests gained attention and momentum from students and faculty, the investment in those companies has remained the same.
University of Buffalo Students Pushing Foundation to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Buffalo News
  • This year, a full-throated campaign has taken hold at UB. Most recently, the executive committee of the Faculty Senate at UB agreed to bring to the full Senate a strongly worded resolution that asks the foundation to divest from all fossil fuel stocks and corporate bonds within five years and to reinvest the money in clean energy and "socially responsible alternatives."
Renewal of the Vows: Whitman College and Fossil Fuels | The Whitman Wire
  • Divest Whitman, organized an event, framed around Whitman College and Fossil Fuels renewing their "wedding vows" -- similar to a ceremony held three years ago, but with a politically charged guest list including Donald and Ivanka Trump, Director of the EPA Scott Pruitt, and Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway.
 
 
Investment Manager News
  • The Bethesda, Md.-based Calvert Foundation is launching a new private financing marketplace for impact investing. Capital Aggregation, announced on Wednesday, marks the birth of a new business line for Calvert Foundation that pools funds from institutional and accredited investors in the form of syndications and participation in fixed-income transactions, enabling investment at scale into organizations designed to create social and environmental impacts.
Putnam Investments Appoints Head of Sustainable Investing l Pensions & Investments
  • Katherine Collins was named head of sustainable investing at Putnam Investments.The position is new. Ms. Collins is responsible for overseeing the firm’s ESG investment approach, which is expected to include managing focused strategies for institutional clients. Ms. Collins was CEO of Honeybee Capital, a research firm focused on ESG investment issues. 
Neuberger Berman hires ESG head | Investor Daily
  • Jonathan Bailey joins Neuberger Berman from Boston-based think tank Focusing Capital on the Long Term (FCLT Global) to head up the investment manager's ESG team.

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: April 28th, 2017

Opportunities For Action
 

Protect Shareholders. Strike the Financial Choice Act 2.0. l As You Sow

  • Shareholder democracy is being profoundly threatened by Section 844 of the proposed Financial CHOICE Act 2.0. This new legislation, which could be voted on as early as May 2, would fundamentally impair investors' rights to file shareholder resolutions. The new rule would permit only a tiny fraction of the globe’s wealthiest investors (those who own more than 1% of more of a company’s stock) to file shareholder proposals. Sign this petition to protect shareholder rights.
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. 
Higher Education Backs Low Carbon USA l Second Nature
  • Building on a January letter to the new leadership in DC, Second Nature has worked with partners to create a new public site for this letter that demonstrates its alignment with over 1,000 business leaders under the banner of Low Carbon USA. If your institution would like to participate, please submit via the form on the linked website.
  • The annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate mitigation, and resilience at signatory campuses of the Climate Leadership Commitments. 
Upcoming Events
New Resources
 
The Business Case for the Current SEC Shareholder Proposal Process l Ceres, ICCR & US SIF
  • This paper provides an investor perspective on the value to investors and companies of the current shareholder proposal process under SEC Rule 14a-8. It was prepared by Ceres investor program staff with major contributions from numerous investor members of the Ceres, ICCR and US SIF investor networks, who have been active in filing shareholder proposals as part of their corporate engagement and asset stewardship efforts. It is intended as a resource to help inform policy discussions about the content of Rule 14a-8 and the impact of shareholder proposals on corporate issuers, shareholder value and the U.S. economy.
  • For the first time, a majority of global investor heavyweights recognize the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks. But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk. The AODP releases its fifth global index on Wednesday, ranking the world’s largest 500 asset owners and, for the first time, the 50 largest asset managers on their performance managing financial risks associated with climate change.
2017 Green Transition Scoreboard Report | Ethical Markets
  • The 2017 Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) explores the deepening of green finance worldwide. Since 2007, companies tracked by the GTS are those avoiding negative externalities and focused on transition management in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and COP21-22. For 2017, the GTS totals $8,133,456,730,370 in non-government investments and commitments in the green transition. All numbers on these totals are cumulative and global since 2007. The GTS tracks Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Life Systems, Green Construction and Corporate Green R&D, representing broad areas of investment in green technologies. 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investor pressure is building for Exxon Mobil Corp. to provide more disclosure on how resilient its business is to climate change; Funds worth $27 trillion are considering climate change when making investment decisions; Real estate companies need to go beyond "carbon neutral," according to Hammerson Plc.; U.K. firms are finding huge gender pay gaps.
Norway’s oil fund is a tarnished gold standard for sustainable investment | The Conversation 
  • Beate Sjåfjell, Professor in the Department of Private Law, University of Oslo explores Norway's sovereign wealth fund's leadership in sustainable investing, arguing that screening out investments on ethical grounds is not enough to address the systemic sustainability challenges that threaten society, the economy, and all investments, concluding that, "the point is that this is not a question of placing ethics above economics. It is a simple matter of understanding that economic returns – like everything else in the long run – are dependent on stable living conditions on earth." 
  • Sustainable investing seeks to drive positive social or environmental impact alongside financial results, allowing investors to accomplish more with their money. Investors need not adjust their financial goals to invest with purpose. BlackRock’s sustainable funds are designed to meet the performance characteristics of traditional investments while targeting specific social impact objectives, such as reducing the carbon footprint of an investment portfolio.
Antibiotics: The Next Ethical Investment Battleground l AFR Weekend
  • Weeks after declaring war on tobacco by confirming it would sell $600 million worth of tobacco-related stocks and biological weapon investments, AMP Capital has released a landmark report flagging the regulatory and earnings dangers of businesses using antibiotics in the food chain. The report, "Is Factory Farming Making Us Sick?" by AMP Capital's senior ESG Analyst, global equities and fixed income, Kristen Le Mesurier, once again puts the spotlight on the rising trend to ethical investing.
  • Impact investing is an ‘investment into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.’ This article explores the question: is it for you?
Is ESG Reporting Enough l All About Alpha
  • Are companies leveling with their shareholders and stakeholders in reporting data pertinent to their environmental and social impacts and their governance issues? Ernst & Young latest survey of investor sentiment on such matters is at the heart of a new report, “Is your nonfinancial performance revealing the true value of your business to investors? 2017”. The bottom line: 60% of the respondents, asked if companies adequately disclose their ESG risks, answered “no.” This is a considerable increase from the answer to the same question a year before.
Appealing To ESG Investors: A Q&A with Pirelli’s Maureen Kline l Environmental Leader
  • Tires are deceptively simple, Maureen Kline, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Pirelli Tire North America, points out. A great deal of R&D actually gets rolled into them. For Pirelli, that means developing environmentally friendly materials that won’t affect performance or safety. This and other strategies have helped the tire manufacturer appeal to environment, social, and governance investors. This article relays a recent in-depth conversation about tracking the value of sustainability and communicating it effectively to investors.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Helping the Missing 60 See the Light l Preventable Surprises
  • Preventable Surprises–along with allies at Boston Common Asset Management, Ceres, ShareAction and others–is calling for large investors to vote in favor of resolutions that push companies to plan for a 2°C-aligned economy. They are also asking investors to declare their voting intention to encourage others to follow. Their briefing note makes the case for action by both investment firms and asset owners, particularly members of Principles for Responsible Investment. 
"First Big 2017 Win For Shareholders And Women On Gender Pay Equity" As Starbucks Responds To Investor Pressure | MarketWatch
  • Arjuna Capital announced this week that it has withdrawn a gender pay equity shareholder resolution targeting Starbucks. Arjuna took the action since Starbucks released data on gender-based compensation.   
General Higher Education Sustainability & Endowment News
  • Dartmouth is embarking on a path toward a low-carbon future with strategic investments in sustainable energy, waste management, food systems, land use, transportation, and water systems, President Phil Hanlon announced this week. This plan of action takes into account recommendations made by a task force Hanlon convened a year ago, on Earth Day 2016. In its report, the interdisciplinary group of faculty, students, and staff proposes weaning the College from fossil fuels, among other strategies to shrink Dartmouth’s carbon footprint.
Why Academics Marched l Inside Higher Ed
  • Academics, graduate students and others brave the cold and rain in Washington last Saturday to rally for science and research. Participants told Inside Higher Ed why they joined the event.
Columbia Unveils New Campus Sustainability Plan l Columbia News
  • Columbia University has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in the next three years through a mix of energy conservation and efficiency measures under its first campus sustainability plan. 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
State Department Memo Bolsters Case to Stay in Climate Pact l Bloomberg
  • An internal State Department memo says the Paris climate accord imposes few obligations on the U.S., bolstering the case for Trump administration officials who want to stay in the deal. The document, marked as a draft, makes no explicit recommendation about whether the U.S. should remain part of the pact. It circulated ahead of a scheduled meeting of top administration officials Thursday to discuss whether President Donald Trump should fulfill his campaign pledge to exit the deal.
Manufacturers Prod White House to Leave Paris Climate Deal l Washington Examiner
  • Failure to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement would hurt American industry and upset Trump's economic goals, an industry group argued in a letter and detailed analysis sent to the White House. 
  • Global sea level rise could happen at nearly twice the rate previously projected by the U.N. IPCC, even under the best scenario, according to a new report. By the end of this century, as some glaciers disappear completely, the Arctic's contribution to global sea level rise will reach at least 19 to 25 centimeters, according to the report by the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program (AMAP).
Perry Says Trump Should Renegotiate, Not Exit, Paris Accord l Bloomberg
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry became the latest senior member of the administration to publicly advocate for staying in the Paris climate accord, saying the U.S. should renegotiate the deal and push European nations to take on a larger share of emissions reductions.
  • The world’s 49 most climate vulnerable countries have called on the G20 to finally set a date – preferably 2020 – for a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.
 
Clean Energy
 
For Aramco Insiders, Prince’s $2 Trillion IPO Valuation Doesn’t Add Up l Wall Street Journal
  • Officials at Saudi Arabian Oil Co. have told their superiors there is a hitch in the plans to take the state-owned oil company public: It is likely worth at least $500 billion less than the government previously suggested. By selling up to 5% of shares in an initial public offering targeted for next year, the government plans to raise billions of dollars that it can use to invest in other industries as part of a plan to reduce its heavy dependence on oil.
British Power Generation Achieves First Ever Coal-Free Day l The Guardian
  • Last Friday was Britain’s first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid. The control room tweeted the milestone on Friday. It is the first continuous 24-hour coal-free period for Britain since use of the fossil fuel began. West Burton 1 power station, the only coal-fired plant that had been up and running, went offline on Thursday.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Despite Divest Cheers, Harvard Maintains Investment Approach | Harvard 
  • CrimsonAs Divest Harvard activists cheered comments from a Harvard Management Company official that the natural resources portfolio is "pausing" investments in fossil fuels, the University maintained that the remarks did not represent a change in investment strategy.
  • Members of Divest Dartmouth are increasingly frustrated with the lack of action by the College in response to their over four-year campaign for fossil fuel divestment. The article chronicles the history of the campaign, and notes  the group is considering a number of options for escalation, including sit-ins, similar to actions taken by other divestment activists at other colleges. “You can expect that you’ll be seeing more from Divest Dartmouth in the future, and that not everything you’ll be seeing is nice, cookie-cutter, ‘Look how great the College is.’”
Washington University in St. Louis Addresses Fossil Free, Will Not Divest l Student Life
  • Chancellor Mark Wrighton announced that Washington University will not divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies in a statement Saturday. The announcement comes in response to specific requests from Fossil Free WashU, an umbrella campaign operating under the guidance of environmental activism organization Green Action and calling for the University to immediately begin the five-year process to divest its endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
Senators Plan Bill to Force SUNY, CUNY Divestment From Fossil Fuels l Times Union
  • A pair of Democratic state senators from Manhattan plan to introduce legislation that would require SUNY, CUNY, and their affiliated organizations and foundations to divest from publicly traded fossil fuel companies. The legislation would require both university systems’ boards of trustees to cease all new investments in the worlds’ 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies by July 1, 2018, and fully divest from stocks, debt or other securities by Jan. 1, 2022. The same rules would apply to university-affiliated nonprofit organizations, such as the SUNY and CUNY Research Foundations.
Students seek to break UNC Asheville's fossil fuel investments | Citizen-Times
  • UNC Asheville students with the environmental group UNCA Divest had planned to attend the university’s board of trustees meeting Friday to urge the administration’s to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Swarthmore Forum on Divestment and Sustainability Leads to Sit-In | The Phoenix

  • On April 21st, Swarthmore's Student Government Organization hosted a forum on divestment and sustainability. During the hour-long session, panelists answered questions from the student body. Panelists included the President, the VP of Finance and Administration, the Sustainability Director, faculty and students. Mountain Justice expressed frustration after the event, releasing a video and an official statement on their Facebook page in the days following the event. The group felt that their questions were not properly answered, and have since responded with a sit-in that is taking place in President Smith’s office and the surrounding hallway.
UW-Madison student council calls for divestment; officials say they won’t change practices | The Cap Times
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison administrators swiftly dismissed a call from the Associated Students of Madison student council to divest from corporations involved in private prisons, fossil fuels, border walls or arms manufacture.
Kenyon Trustees address divestment, status of the capital campaign | Kenyon Collegian
  • The Kenyon Board of Trustees arrived to a particularly vocal campus this past Thursday, April 20 for their annual spring meeting. DivestKenyon pitched tents on Ransom Lawn to protest the College’s suspected investment in fossil fuels and demand divestment from such corporations. DivestKenyon also led a demonstration of approximately 30 people outside of the Kenyon Inn, culminating in a conversation with two trustee, who expressed appreciation for the protestors’ energy but said they did not agree with their message. Students wrote an opinion piece on why "Divestment is the best plan for the College's future." 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: April 21st, 2017

Opportunities for Action
 
Sign-On: Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety l The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility & Boston Common Asset Management
  • Investors are invited to sign this statement by providing your information on the online form hereThe deadline is close of business, Friday, April 21st.
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. 
Higher Education Backs Low Carbon USA l Second Nature
  • Building on a January letter to the new leadership in DC, Second Nature has worked with partners to create a new public site for this letter that demonstrates its alignment with over 1,000 business leaders under the banner of Low Carbon USA. If your institution would like to participate, please submit via the form on the linked website.
  • The annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate mitigation, and resilience at signatory campuses of the Climate Leadership Commitments. 
Upcoming Events
 
New Resources
 

 Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing l Trillium Asset Management, Green Century & 350

  • This guide provides investors with insights and tools to eliminate fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and reinvest in clean, sustainable, and solutions-oriented investments that are advancing the transition toward a zero-carbon economy. The guide offers specific steps individuals can take to start investing fossil fuel free. Inside the guide, readers will find background information about divestment and fossil fuel free investing, four reasons to avoid coal, oil, and gas companies, how to divest, which offers a suite of online resources to help individuals divest and reinvest fossil fuel free, and an introduction to reinvesting in clean, sustainable investments.
News from IEN Members
 
UMaine System Marks Earth Day With New ESG Investment Policy l Maine Biz
  • Maine's public universities marked Earth Day 2017 by announcing today a new investment policy linked to sustainability. The universities also released a report that shows the seven-campus UMaine System has achieved a 34% decline in carbon emissions over the last decade. In a release announcing the investment policy change, the UMaine System explained that ESG investing models include such factors as environmental sustainability, effect on carbon footprint, the treatment of workers and the transparency of their governing principles.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how U.S. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling wants to require anyone seeking to put a proposal on the corporate ballot to hold a minimum of 1 percent of a company’s outstanding stock for three years. Currently, shareholders with as little as $2,000 in shares for a year or more can do so. There are also stories inside about how Tesla paid off some SolarCity bonds early; French banks top green bonds league tables; Efficiency-focused indexes are outperforming; Big oil backs the Paris climate accord; Sandberg called 'hypocrite' as Facebook, Google shield pay data; and how Microsoft, Google and Apple are buying renewable energy.
Sustainability Leaders Issue Call-to-Action to CEOs l 3BL Media
  • The leaders of the world's two largest corporate and investor sustainability initiatives today called on CEOs to ensure their corporate pension plans – an untapped sustainability area – adopt responsible investing policies – highlighting concrete benefits including improved investment performance, fulfilling fiduciary duty and managing regulatory risk and boosting corporate sponsor credibility. According to a guide released today by the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and UN Global Compact, CEOs should ensure plans mirror their own sustainability values.
Sustainable Investing Grows on Asset Owner Demand l Bloomberg
  • Sustainable investing is moving to broader investment analysis from the confines of specialty funds. Pension funds focused on long-term returns, particularly in Europe, are a main driver. Recognition of the financial cost of environmental, social and governance issues, better disclosure of company data and investor demand are among factors spurring the change. Issues such as energy efficiency, water scarcity, safety and diversity are gaining ground with a wider investor base, even without a label.
Value Meets Values - The Rise of ESG in Investing l LinkedIn
  • This article explores how ESG coalesces different areas of concern into a single concept that appeals to both value- and values-driven investors. Disclosure of ESG information can provide a holistic view of a company’s sustainability. The ESG issues reported span a broad breadth of topics including green financing, social responsibility, human capital, workplace diversity, executive compensation, and corporate governance. A key by-product of greater ESG disclosure will be enhanced transparency in investment decisions.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Forum Highlights Value of Private Sector Role in SDGs l IISD
  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held its annual Global Forum on Development with a focus on catalyzing the private sector to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and explore new avenues of partnership to mobilize the needed resources. The 12th annual Global Forum on Development convened on 5 April 2017, in Paris, France, on the theme of ‘Working together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs).
Trump No Roadblock to ESG Investing Train l Insurance News Net
  • At first glance, a money manager might look at the budget-slashing, executive order-heavy environmental policies from the Trump administration, and think “stay away.” But new evidence (especially larger fund inflows) into sustainable investment reveals an opportunity for advisors to spin some gold out of political flax. According to the U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, so-called “impact investing” (also known as environmental, social and governance, or “ESG” funds) attract 20 percent of proceeds invested by U.S. asset managers.
United Nations Convenes SDG Finance Lab to Mobilize Institutional Investment (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • The United Nations has convened an initiative called the SDG Financing Lab to mobilize the “vast pools” of capital held by institutional investors to promote sustainable financial systems. It took place at a high-level event at the UN Headquarters in New York this week organized in collaboration with the UN Environment Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.
Here Come The Sustainable Development Goals l The Huffington Post
  • The very latest “Really Big Thing “ to hit the responsible and sustainable investment space is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an internationally agreed set of 17 worthy but incredibly ambitious goals which were adopted by world leaders in the fall of 2015, and came into effect in January 2016. While in the first instance adopted by and targeted at countries, it is explicitly expected that the private sector must and will be heavily involved Unlike their UN predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs have attracted widespread interest not only from multilateral corporations, but also from large institutional investors.
Does Sustainable Investing Make Sense? ETFs in Focus l NASDAQ
  • This article discusses whether SRI/ESG investing generates investment benefits. Various studies have proved that sustainable practices have led to lower cost of capital and better operational performance of the firm, which in turn has led to higher cash flow generation. To discuss this further, we will now talk about a few ETF investments in this space.
Your Guide to Sustainable Investing l Morningstar
  • Do you want sustainable, long-term investment returns? Increasing evidence suggests that in order to reach your investment goals the companies that deliver the best returns to shareholders are those which care about ESG. In the past, ethical investing was thought of as a lower-return strategy, investing for people who wanted to put morals above profits. But now evidence suggests that the opposite is true; companies which embrace low-carbon technology for example, are more likely to be future proofed, companies which treat their employees fairly are more likely to have consistent cash flows.
A New Spin on ESG ETFs l ETF Trends
  • Exchange traded funds and other strategies that incorporate ESG are increasingly popular with investors and issuers are obliging with an array of new ETFs adhering to ESG investing principles. Last week, SerenityShares, a unit of SerenityShares Investments, a Washington-DC based registered investment advisor, introduced the SerenityShares IMPACT ETF. The new ETF “aims to identify firms whose activities benefit society and the planet while excluding investments in traditional areas of ESG concern such as tobacco, offensive weapons, and fossil fuel (oil, gas, and coal) exploration,” according to a statement from SerenityShares.
Nearly 50 Years After the Inaugural Earth Day, Impact Investing Arrives lYahoo Finance
  • The first Earth Day was held nearly 50 years ago, on April 22, 1970, as an outpouring of support for environmental reform. It was the rallying cry of a movement that would see, in the following months and years, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of legislation like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. For investors -- and ultimately, for businesses themselves that want to tap the public markets for funds -- impact investing may be just as groundbreaking.

Shareholder Engagement & Fiduciary Duty
  • A top House Republican and one of Washington's most powerful lobbying groups are working to dismantle a tool investors use to challenge companies on issues like climate change: the shareholder proposal process. The "Financial CHOICE Act" — a sweeping bill sponsored by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) that aims to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act aims to hobble that process. The latest version of the bill would change Securities and Exchange Commission rules to bar any investor with less than a 1 percent stake in a company from filing a resolution, according to a committee memo. At some companies, 1 percent could be tens of thousands of dollars. At others, it could be billions.
Green-Aware Investors Can Do Good — And Well l The Register Guard
  • Are business interests incompatible with climate-change mitigation? Perhaps for some companies — but for others, the hurricanes, droughts and floods associated with climate change represent one of the many risks businesses must confront to be successful. Not surprisingly, a growing number of businesses address environmental risk or make changes with environmental consequences in mind. For investors, incorporating environmental factors into investment decisions is an increasingly smart approach. Consideration of ESG factors has gone mainstream, with investment advisers increasingly using ESG integration. Yet the assumption persists that ESG investing is fiscally imprudent and will result in lower returns. This article discusses why that is not the case.
Green Bonds
 
This Large Money Manager Created a New Way to Invest in Green Bonds l Green Biz
  • Last month VanEck launched the first U.S.-listed fixed-income exchange-traded fund (ETF) for green bonds, the VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF, which offers investors a new way to invest in projects that help mitigate the impacts of climate change. The ETF allows investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of U.S. and foreign green bonds, and it will track the performance and yield characteristics of the S&P Green Bond Select Index. With asset managers such as BlackRock Inc. and State Street Corp. launching green bond index funds in Europe, how will these funds affect the overall green bond landscape?
General Higher Education & Endowment News
 
Universities Seek to Defend Endowments From Republican Tax Plan l Yahoo Finance
  • Some of the richest U.S. colleges are pushing back against scrutiny by Congress over the tax-exempt status of their endowments. Lobbying disclosure forms show almost two dozen schools such as Princeton University, University of Notre Dame and Cornell University are including endowment tax issues in their federal agenda, along with perennial topics such as student loans and funding for scientific research.
As Interest Grows, Yale Carbon Charge Leads the way in Studying Carbon Pricing l Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition
  • Earlier this month, officials from the Yale Carbon Charge participated in a strategy session at the Connecticut State Capitol with regional legislators interested in developing carbon-pricing policies. Yale also will take part in an upcoming symposium at Boston University with representatives from Microsoft, looking at how private companies and universities such as Yale have gone about creating, testing, and evaluating internal carbon taxes as a way to reduce CO2 emissions. Yale’s carbon charge program applies a $40 charge per ton of CO2. The Yale program uses a market-based, fee-and-dividend model, which experts say is most likely to be the approach used by governments in the United States.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Nitrogen Pollution: An Emerging Focus of Campus Sustainability Efforts l The Huffington Post
  • Many colleges and universities are working to transition toward sustainability in their academic programs, operations and engagement with communities. A major emphasis of their efforts has been reducing the environmental harms associated with campus operations. Typical initiatives include reducing emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases. While many of these initiatives can and do reduce nitrogen pollution, this has not been a significant or deliberate focus of college and university sustainability programs. That may be changing. The University of Virginia set a goal in 2013 to reduce its emissions of reactive nitrogen 25% by the year 2025 relative to base year 2009, the first to do so. Another eighteen schools have joined UVA in a research network to study their nitrogen pollution and consider similar policies.
Global Sustainability Leader UC Launches Climate Lab, an Innovative Six Part Video Series in Partnership with Vox on Climate Change Solutions l University of California
  • The University of California and Vox announced this week Climate Lab, a six-episode video series exploring global climate change and UC’s groundbreaking work to mitigate its effects. Hosted by conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan, the series features eye-opening conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists about how everything from clean energy to food, religion to smartphones, affects the future of our planet.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
  • This week, Trillium Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management, and 350.org announced the release of a new guide for investors on fossil fuel free investing titled Make a Clean Break: Your Guide to Fossil Fuel Free Investing. The first version of the guide was launched in 2013 and updated in 2014. The new guide provides investors with insights and tools to eliminate fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and reinvest in clean, sustainable, and solutions-oriented investments that are advancing the transition toward a zero-carbon economy.
  • Since its inception in the fall of 2012, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) has been dedicated to pursuing the goal of climate justice, on our campus and beyond. Thus far that has largely manifested in the form of a campaign to divest the College’s endowment from the top 200 oil and gas companies. According to student leaders of the campaign, it is time to shift the tactic. BCA sees Maine’s impending gubernatorial, senate and state legislature elections in 2018 as a ripe opportunity to further our ultimate goal of climate justice. We can be instrumental in making climate change one of the top priorities for the Maine public and politicians alike in this coming election cycle.
  • In 2014, Wellesley students asked the College to divest from fossil fuels and their request was denied by the Board of Trustees and President Bottomly. Instead, they promised the students other sustainable initiatives instead; one of the most importantbeing the creation of the Green Revolving Fund (GRF) or similar fund for sustainable projects. A pilot of the GRF was launched with $500,000 — however, the Office of Sustainability only spent $180,000 before the fund was frozen without notice or explanation. In order to gather support for the GRF, students have organized a student petition to deliver to the administration.
Montclair State University Students Campaign for University Divestment of Fossil Fuels l The Montclarion
  • Students in the Montclair State Environmental Club have taken it upon themselves to convince Montclair State University to divest from the six different fossil fuel companies it currently has corporate bonds for, including BP and ExxonMobil. Members of the Environmental Club executive board are working with the Student Government Association (SGA) to create a poll where students can vote on whether or not they would like their school to divest.

Divest Dartmouth Holds Keystone Pipeline Protest l The Dartmouth

  • Instead of their typical location inside trash bags outside of fraternities and sororities, empty Keystone Light cans were instead arranged in the shape of a pipeline on the front lawn of Parkhurst Hall on Thursday afternoon to protest the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Divest Dartmouth, which organized the protest, called upon College President Phil Hanlon and the Board of Trustees to divest endowment holdings from the 200 “dirtiest” fossil fuel companies, according to a Divest Dartmouth member.
Fossil Free Macalester College Changes Tactics in Fight for Divestment l The Mac Weekly
  • Macalester’s Investment Office estimates that the College’s endowment currently includes around $20 to $25 million invested in fossil fuel-related ventures through a number of mutual funds. Fossil Free Mac will be taking a different approach this time around with their calls for divestment. The group altered their strategy after details about the institution’s investments in fossil fuel companies were unearthed during a meeting last November with Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton: Macalester has $49 million invested in oil and gas limited private partnerships. Recently the Student Government passed an official resolution calling on the administration to “…enact a moratorium on private oil and gas partnerships in order to divorce our endowment from direct funding of fossil fuel infrastructure.”

We Don’t Have a Democracy”: A Response to Chancellor Wrighton at Washington University (Opinion) l Student Life

  • On April 14, Fossil Free WashU met with Chancellor Wrighton for the second time this semester. For the past four years students have been asking Washington University’s administration to divest from the top 200 dirtiest fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free has finally been refused outright. Students spoke with the Chancellor and his chief of staff, and while they may have received our answer, it was behind closed doors. Following this meeting, the students decided to release insights that reach beyond their campaign. As a group dedicated to voicing student concerns about the endowment and its implications, Fossil Free WashU shared the following considerations with the greater University community.
Amherst Area Activists Hold Demonstration Outside Bank of America Protesting Investment in Fossil Fuel l Mass Live
  • This week, With props of money, cigars and an oil-like substance, a group of area residents staged a nearly hour-long demonstration in front of the Bank of America to inspire customers to divest from banks supporting fossil fuel.  

University System of Maryland Foundation Won’t Commit to Fossil Fuel Divestment Deadline l The Diamondback

  • Almost a year after a University System of Maryland Foundation committee created formal recommendations to divest from fossil fuels, it hasn't committed to a deadline and has refused to release its progress to the public. The foundation, which oversees investments for the University System of Maryland's 12 institutions and 11 other institutions affiliated with the system, formed an ad hoc committee in May 2016 to evaluate a proposal created by the student group Fossil Free MD to divest from fossil fuels.
Johns Hopkins Forum Explores the Pros and Cons of Fossil Fuel Divestment l JHU Hub
  • John Hopkins University invited four experts to share perspectives on the issue of fossil fuel divestment as it engages in its own discussions of whether to end private investments in fossil fuel companies. Nearly a third of the university's $3.8 billion endowment is privately invested. The Johns Hopkins divestment proposal is under consideration by the Public Interest Investment Advisory Committee, a panel of students, faculty, and staff appointed to advise the university on the social impacts of its investments.
Does the University of South Florida Invest in BP, Big Tobacco, Weapons and Prisons? l PolitiFact Florida
  • University of South Florida students, faculty and alumni are revamping their efforts to have more say in how the university invests its money. A new video called "#HeyJudy" from the USF Divest coalition urges USF administrators to stop investing in a number of industries that they don’t support, such as private prison operators, tobacco companies, oil companies and weapons manufacturers.
Harvard Students Say Action is Needed: Divestment, Politics, and Morality (Opinion) l Harvard Political Review
  • Divest Harvard is a student activist group. On February 21st, they asked the administration that divestment from coal begin by March 10. Disappointingly, they received in return only another letter claiming that divestment is not in line with the University’s mission. But Harvard’s lack of action is irresponsible and risky. This opinion piece outlines why.
MU Student Groups Want University of Missouri System to Divest Interest in Fossil Fuels l The Missourian
  • Representatives from MU student government organizations are calling on the University of Missouri System to discontinue allowing its endowments to fund fossil fuels. The Missouri Students Association passed a resolution Tuesday night asking the UM System to divest from funding fossil fuel companies through the system's $1.5 billion Endowment Pool by 2022. The resolution also asks the system to provide financial support to the green energy sector
Private Prison Divestment
 
Princeton University Evasion Tactics: The Politics of the “Apolitical” (Opinion) l The Princetonian
  • This article discusses The Princetonian Editorial Board's recent article characterizing divestment as a “political end” which would damage the University’s educational capacities. In doing so, it argued against the prevailing campus consensus in support of private prison divestment, demonstrated by a successful faculty petition and vast majorities of undergraduate and graduate referenda participants. Ironically, the Board makes its own political agenda clear when it claims that “the contracting of certain government services ... can have negative, even disastrous effects,” but still fails to be “inherently immoral.” Inflammatory editorials, however, are far less harmful than the diversions from institutional accountability favored by administrators.

New Harvard University Group Calls for Private Prison Divestment l The Crimson

  • Students have launched a new effort urging Harvard to divest—this time taking aim at the University’s holdings in private prison stocks. The new undergraduate-led initiative, called the Harvard College Project for Justice, disseminated a petition over some House lists last week calling for Harvard to divest from “direct and indirect investments in private prison stock, as well as publicly commit to a moratorium on such investments in the future.”

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: April 14th, 2017

New IEN Members
Upcoming Events
 
 
Opportunities for Action
 
Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative l Our Climate
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. Putting a price on carbon creates a powerful incentive for individuals, communities, investors, and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy.
Sign-On: Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety l The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility & Boston Common Asset Management
  • The Accord for Fire and Building Safety has made important strides to address the risk to garment factory workers in the 1,600 factories covered under the program.  To complete the work however, requires the extension of the original 5-year agreement.  In addition, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety needs to complete remediation of all outstanding issues identified in its inspections and publicly report on progress so that investors and other stakeholders are informed. We invite you all to join other investors in signing the statement.  Please provide your information by filling out the online form hereThe deadline is close of business, Friday, April 21st.
  • The annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate mitigation, and resilience at signatory campuses of the Climate Leadership Commitments. They do so based on demonstrated advances in innovation, embedded opportunities, and student preparedness with relation to sustainability and climate action. Second Nature offers these awards in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) since 2015. Award winners are recognized as part of the Greenbuild Leadership Awards Program, benefiting from global publicity opportunities.
 
 
New Resources
 
  • It makes commercial sense to embed the SDGs in operations and strategy, but how ready is business to support governments achieve these global goals? This report answers that question. Some key take aways include 71% of businesses say they are already planning how they will engage with the SDGs, and 41% of businesses say they will embed SDGs into strategy and the way they do business, within five years.
IEN-Member News
 
PRI Sets out Sustainable Financial System Programme l Principles for Responsible Investment
  • The PRI set out its Sustainable Financial System (SFS) programme to US signatories at an event hosted by IEX in New York on 29 March. The SFS programme has been established with a long-term view – to better align the financial system with sustainable and equitable economies. In doing so, the aim is to reinforce ESG integration and responsible investment approaches. IEX was chosen for the event because of its commitment to a fair, simple, transparent listed equities market.
Etho Capital Named one of the Most Innovative Companies of 2017 in the Energy Sector l Fast Company
  • Etho Capital was named one of the Most Innovative Companies of 2017 in the energy sector for offering a fossil fuel free ETF.
  • Having successfully hired a senior portfolio manager last year, Zevin Asset Management is seeking to add yet another senior investor to their team who is committed to serving both individual and institutional clients’ financial needs while being dedicated to social change. Experience of managing assets of individual clients in individual public securities is essential.
UBS, a $2.7 Trillion Money Manager, is Preaching Sustainable Investing to its 7,000 Financial Advisors l Business Insider
  • One of the largest financial firms in the world is positioning itself to be the greenest bank on Wall Street. UBS, which manages over 2.7 trillion Swiss francs ($2.7 trillion) has made sustainability the cornerstone of its business. As such, the bank has taken a number of steps to be the go-to firm for sustainable and impact investment offerings. The Swiss-based bank told Business Insider its sustainable investments grew by about 40 billion Swiss francs in 2016. Those investments now make up about 35%, or more than $970 billion Swiss francs, of the bank's "total invested assets."  This year, they will sustainably invest one trillion Swiss francs of its managed assets, according to this article.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how some sustainable investors are flipping their focus from fossil fuels to forests, betting that trees pulling carbon from the air can have a bigger impact than other investments; renewable energy investment in developing countries dropped faster last year than in richer nations; Tesla Inc. searches for new independent directors; and Bank of New York Mellon looks at products that help women.
Ford Foundation Is an Unlikely Convert to ‘Impact’ Investing l The New York Times
  • This article describes the history and decision making behind the Ford Foundation's recent  announcement that it would commit $1 billion to investments that “earn not only attractive financial returns but concrete social returns as well.”
Kellogg - Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge Winner: Flexible Finance for Low-Income Schools l Impact Alpha
  • A team of MBA students from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management that proposed a low-interest loan fund for India’s 400,000 low-fee private schools took first place in last week’s Kellogg Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge. Now in its seventh year, the tone at the finals in New York suggested the tide is shifting towards long-term, sustainable investing.
  • Regardless of their specific approach to impact investing, the 11 foundation leaders featured in this series share the same refrain: We can’t make meaningful progress against the most important social and environmental challenges of our time without taking risks, and foundations are uniquely positioned to take such risks. While each individual foundation has its own risk tolerance, all foundations should be able to find a comfortable spot along the risk spectrum to commit more of their capital toward mission.
Consultants, Asset Managers Tout Holistic Approach In Carbon Footprint Analysis l Money Management Report
  • This article discusses how carbon footprint analysis relates to ESG criteria and advises investors to carefully consider the objectives and the goals they are trying to achieve when making such considerations a part of their investment analysis. 
SDG Round-Up, April 13 (Subsciption) l Responsible Investor
  • This article is a compilation of the latest developments in relation to the sustainable development goals, including Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs having reportedly announced that “all relevant aspects of new Danish legislation will be assessed in relation to the Global Goals,” and IEN Member Oekom Research’s Corporate Responsibility Review 2017 citing global pressures from such initiatives as the SDGs as drivers of the ‘slight’ improvement in corporate governance practices.
  • New Research shows private equity activity in Africa will inject billions of US dollars of sustainable investment over the next five years. Private equity deals in Africa are growing from a low base equivalent to 0.18 percent of Africa’s GDP in 2016. Every 0.01 percent increase will mean $200 million (R2.75 billion) more investment and could easily reach $1.1 billion over the next five years.
The “Why” Question in Investment Theory l Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation
  • Economics has developed as a science, conveniently forgetting its roots in political philosophy. Unfortunately that “science” is severely dated, and the functioning of the global capital markets has become separated from the real world. A simple thought experiment throws light on the theoretically correct strategies for a rational saver, but leaves us with unsatisfactory answers. Neglecting the societal context of our saving activity only serves to further isolate the capital markets. Instead, a self-perpetuating system requires investors to evolve from simple allocators of capital to its steward, with far broader responsibilities. Maximising holistic returns represents practical action of the responsibility by investors, and stretches far beyond creating wealth simply for its own sake.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Proxy Season 2017 Blog l As You Sow, Proxy Impact, & SI2
  • This blog is the place where active shareholders can stay up-to-date on the inside scoop of what's happening at selected annual meetings being voted on each week, as well as the most relevant advocacy position and expert insight articles from Proxy Preview 2017. For the dates of April 10 to April 21 there is a meeting at Bank of New York Mellon on April 11, 2017 as well as a meeting at Kraft Heinz Company on April 19, 2017. Read the blog for more information on the votes taking place at these meetings.
Adam Kanzer: The Business Roundtable’s Unreasonable Proposal
 (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Last year, the Business Roundtable published a proposal to “modernize” the process shareholders use to submit shareholder proposals in the United States. If fully implemented, it would eliminate virtually all proposals. In this article, Adam Kanzer explains why.
ICCR Statement in Support of In-Person Annual Stockholder Meetings l Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility 
  • This statement reflects ICCR's view that in-person shareholder meetings are a critical component of good corporate governance. They enable long-term investors to share information and voice concerns about financial risks they believe the company may not be adequately managing. Virtual-only meetings can significantly reduce this additional input, fostering a dangerous insularity that exposes the company to even greater risk. Further, they fear the move to virtual meetings will be used by management and board to avoid challenges, filter out negative feedback, cherry-pick questions, and downplay opposition to business decisions and plans.
  • Institutional investors are not yet satisfied with Rio Tinto’s response to a shareholder resolution passed last year that asked the mining company to provide more information about its approach to climate change risk. The resolution was co-filed by the Aiming for A investor coalition, an initiative of UK charity fund manager CCLA, along with a wider group of institutional investors with over $4trn (€3.8trn) of assets. Similar resolutions were filed at Anglo American and Glencore.
Fixed Income & Green Bonds
 
Investors Warm to ‘Green Bonds’ l Wall Street Journal
  • “Green bond” issuance is growing fast, part of the overall trend of do-good investments becoming more popular. About $81 billion of green bonds were issued last year, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes the debt market as a way to raise money for projects related to climate change. It expects $150 billion of green bonds to be issued this year, compared with just $3 billion were issued in 2012.
A New Asset Class is Gaining Ground as Investors Turn Socially and Environmentally Conscious l CNBC
  • Green Bonds, though not new in the finance world, saw demand rise at a faster pace after the Paris climate change agreement was reached in December 2015. The accord, which came into effect in November 2016, will see nearly 200 countries work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of containing climate change. Moody's Investors Service said in January this year that green bond issuance rose 120 percent in 2016 to a record $93.4 billion, and it has the potential to hit $206 billion in 2017.
  • The Pimco Environmental, Social and Governance Global Bond Fund will be benchmarked against the company’s global bond model, and will plough investor cash into a range of sovereign and investment-grade bonds around the world. The launch comes amid a broader push for ethical investment frameworks. Last month Australia’s largest wealth manager AMP dumped $600 million worth of investments in big tobacco, cluster munitions and landmines after overhauling its ethical guidelines.
Sustainable Development Goals: Common Goals, Our Approach, Your Impact
 l Pimco
  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can serve as a framework for measuring impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG)-focused investing. Establishing a common approach, and understanding how to measure progress towards meeting the goals, is key to unlocking core fixed income capital for the purpose of positive change.
 
 
Higher Education Endowment & General News
Yale Endowment Blasts Low-Fee Critics, Says Gains Would Lag l Bloomberg
  • Yale University, one of the most-watched and best-performing college endowments, defended the fees it pays to external managers, saying in an annual investment report that a low-cost passive strategy would have “shortchanged’’ the Ivy League school’s students and faculty. While declining to provide details about how much the fund pays, its managers earn “large performance-based fees,’’ the report said. The $25.4 billion endowment, the second largest in higher education behind Harvard, has been run since 1985 by David Swensen and returned 3.4 percent for the most recent fiscal year when college endowments lost 2 percent on average.
How Yale's Endowment Negotiates Fees l Institutional Investor
  • This article describes how Yale's endowment managers negotiates and structures fees and terms by asset class, according to its 2016 investment report.
Gonzaga Environmental Organization of Gonzaga University Speaker Series Opener Advocates for Responsible Investing l The Gonzaga Bulletin
  • Last year Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh asked director of sustainability Jim Simon to create conversations around ways the university can invest in a sustainable, “responsible” way. At the second of two events in the The SRI Speaker Series this year, Jason Henning, Vice President of Investor/Donor relations at Seattle based Global Partnerships—a nonprofit ‘impact-led’ investment firm that focuses on subsidizing necessary supplies in poverty stricken areas across the globe spoke.
Open Letter to President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt l Chaplains for Earth
  • In this open letter, Deans and Directors of college and university religious and spiritual life departments call upon the United States government to honor the commitments it made at the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris. More broadly, they encourage the U.S. to continue engaging in international talks and actions as well as domestic measures to mitigate the human-made impact on climate change.  
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
California's Cap-and Trade Program Wins in Court, Program's Future Still Unclear l Van Ness Feldman
  • In 2016, the California Legislature enacted an aggressive target for the state: reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.  However, the state’s climate policies have been subject to ongoing judicial and legislative uncertainty. On April 6, 2017, a California appellate court lifted one of those clouds of uncertainty, issuing a 2-1 decision that preserves the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program – at least through 2020.  California Chamber of Commerce v. CARB.  Thereafter, the fate of the cap-and-trade program is in the hands of the California Legislature, which is considering whether cap-and-trade will play a role in the state’s future climate policies – and, if so, in what form.
  • This year, University of California Retirement Systemwas the highest rated US Endowment for managing climate risk per the AODP Global Climate Index. The AODP Global Climate Index is the world standard for assessing the world’s largest investors on climate-risk management. The Index has been produced by assessing the world’s largest 500 asset owners including pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, foundations and endowments. 

Clean Energy
 
Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Converts to Solar Power l Mountain News
  • The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. "We believe that this project will help save at least eight to ten thousand dollars, off the energy costs on this building alone, so it's a very worthy effort and it's going to save the college money in the long run," said Communications Director Brandon Robinson.
NRG, a Power Company Leaning Green, Faces Activist Challenge l The New York Times
  • Over the years, NRG, a leading independent power producer whose fleet once depended heavily on coal, has made big bets on low-carbon energy technologies. It pursued developing renewable energy for customers large and small and set aggressive goals to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide — 50 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050. Activist hedge-fund investors have installed two directors on the board who, in one potential approach, would push to sell off some of the company’s renewable-power projects, raising questions about how it would meet its clean-energy goals.
  • Ohio State University’s endowment will jump 25% in size with a $1 billion payment from two companies that will lease the school’s energy assets for 50 years. The school’s board of trustees on Friday approved a public-private partnership with French company Engie SA and Montreal-based Axium Infrastructure Inc. to run and manage its energy and electricity systems in exchange for annual payments expected to exceed $54 million.
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 

University of Auckland and Auckland Council Called on to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Fairfax Media

  • Auckland Council and the University of Auckland are being called on to pull investments in coal, oil and gas. On Tuesday climate group 350 Aotearoa will ask Auckland Council to halt all new investments in fossil fuels and divest existing investments within three years. Last week more than 100 students from the Auckland University Medical Students Association rallied against the University of Auckland for investing in fossil fuels.
SUNY New Paltz Foundation Should Divest From Fossil Fuels (Opinion) l Daily Freeman
  • In this letter to the editor, a current student at SUNY New Paltz discusses the reasons he believes the foundation should divest from fossil fuels.
Yale Approaches Exxon Divestment Decision l Yale Daily News
  • The Yale Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility met with three senior executives at Exxon Mobil Corp. in March, a major step in the committee’s efforts to determine whether the University should divest from Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company in the world. ACIR Chair Jonathan Macey LAW ’82 described the conversation with Exxon Mobil to members of Fossil Free Yale, Yale Students for Prison Divestment and the Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund at a meeting in Luce Hall on Saturday. Catherine Hill GRD ’85, a University trustee who was on campus for the Yale Corporation’s meeting this weekend, was also in attendance.

Western University Makes First Move to Divest From Fossil Fuels l The Gazette

  • Western University has taken its first real step towards divestment from fossil fuels by moving a portion of its reserve funds towards investing in companies which are “sustainability leaders in the areas of water, energy, waste and food & agriculture.”The University will be moving approximately $800,000 (out of approximately $4 million overall in its reserve funds) from Canadian equities in its reserves to a new Canadian sustainability fund called “NEI Environment Leaders Fund.”
UNC Asheville Student Organization Seeks to Divest University Funds From Fossil Fuels l The Blue Banner
  • As funding and political support continues to flow for controversial pipeline projects, like the Keystone and Dakota Access, a group of dedicated UNC Asheville students actively try to convince students and university officials to take their money away from financial institutions supporting extractive energy. UNCA Divest, formerly Divestment Coalition, is a long-standing student group having historically advocated for the university to divest totally from fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.

Johns Hopkins Provost Hosts Discussion Forum on Divesting From Fossil Fuel Companies l JHU Hub

  • In response to mounting evidence of the environmental and public health impacts of the fossil fuel industry, Johns Hopkins University will hold a forum to discuss the issue of fossil fuel divestment. The JHU Forum on Divestment from Fossil Fuels will take place Monday, April 17 in Hodson Hall. Experts will discuss the social, ethical, and financial implications institutions should consider when deciding whether or not to end investments with fossil fuel companies. A question and answer session will follow the panel. Nearly a third of the university's $3.8 billion endowment is privately invested.
Faculty Senate Unable to Vote on Univeristy of Buffalo (UB) Fossil Free’s Divestment Proposal l The Spectrum
  • By the time UB Fossil Free presented to Faculty Senate, the proposal already had 1,600 signatures from the Student Association and Graduate Student Association, and is currently pending approval from the Professional Staff Senate.This week the Faculty Senate postponed the vote on UB Fossil Free’s divestment proposal. A student organizer presented the 20-minute divestment proposal and took questions from the Senate. The Senate was preparing to vote until one senator realized there weren’t enough members present at the meeting to make the proceedings valid. The vote is postponed until April 26.
  • Interest in socially responsible investment policies has been growing on a global, national, and campus-wide scale. On Tuesday, April 4, an expert in this field came to talk to an attentive Sewanee audience. Charlie Bohlen, the Chief Investment Officer of SFE Investment Counsel, gave a lecture hosted by the Babson Center for Global Commerce, the Divestment Club, and the Sewanee Investment Club.

 

 

 

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