Weekly News Round-Up: July 14th, 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.

PRI and Carbon Tracker Launch Events: 2 Degrees of Separation: Transition Risks for Oil & Gas in a Low-Carbon World  

  • The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) invite investors for several launch events for a new research entitled: "2 degrees of separation: Transition risk for oil & gas in a low carbon world". The report is produced by the Carbon Tracker Initiative in partnership with Legal & General Investment Management, AP7, FRR, PGGM, PKA, and the Principles for Responsible Investment.
The SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2017, San Diego, CA
  • The SRI Conference – on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders and investment professionals working in the ESG, Shareowner Engagement, and Impact Investing space. Together, we are catalyzing the shift to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. We deliver education and inspiration — in between legendary networking opportunities.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how the European Commission backed recommendations to curb climate risk, which may include a label for green bonds; Ten top-performing ESG funds; Proxy access topped proposals received by companies in 2017 for the third year in a row; Natixis SA issued the first green commercial mortgage-backed security; NRG mulls renewables sale.
ESG, OECD, and the Tragedy of the Commons l Aperio
  • In its paper "Investment governance and the integration of environmental, social and governance factors,"1 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) weighs in on the issue of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors as they relate to investment choices. The report makes some excellent recommendations on improving disclosure by companies regarding ESG issues, while also providing a useful framework for different types of investors, as measured by their commitments to broader stakeholders than just shareholders. This paper could be described as an extension of the economic concept of "the tragedy of the commons," or in more technical jargon, the problem of externalities around major environmental issues. 

10 Studies That Show How and Why ESG Investing Works l Reuters

  • This article offers a look at the circumstances under which ESG-related investing works the best, across different asset classes such as stocks and bonds.

Investing in Food and the Climate: A New Playing Field with New Tools l Non-Profit Quarterly 

  • Whether by conscience or market pressure, corporations are paying more attention to issues that matter to their markets and the in many cases pressure is coming from investors. This article explores those pressures.

When Silicon Valley and Social Responsibility Collide l Bloomberg 

  • Silicon Valley venture capital is no place for socially responsible investors. Or at least, it increasingly looks that way as accusations of sexual harassment against the industry continue to pile up. The New York Times reported last week that more than two dozen women in technology startups contend that they’ve been sexually harassed, in some cases by prominent venture capitalists who have acknowledged the harassment. If accusations of sexual harassment continue to pervade Silicon Valley, then socially responsible investors will have to decide whether to sidestep a large -- and perhaps the most promising -- portion of an already limited number of venture funds. 

The “Data Science Arms Race” Has Begun l Barron's

  • Three major trends sweeping the asset management industry -- robo advisors, sustainable investing, and smart-beta or factor investing -- have been driven by investors' penchant for Big Data. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Data science and the profound impact it will have on the asset management industry is a complicated topic," wrote Dan Fannon, a Jefferies equity analyst. "Its impact will be felt not only at the highest levels (corporate) but also at the most basic level with each individual active manager having to retool their investment processes and skill sets."
  • With consumer activism becoming such a powerful change agent, investors and particularly millennials who have over $3 trillion in spending power, are getting in on the act. A new investment app by Goodments has been developed that makes it easier for people to invest in "good" businesses and build a portfolio that better suits their individual values. "It does feel like it's the right time," said Emily Taylor, co-founder of sustainable investment platform Goodments. "I would never say we like Trump. But I think him being in power and a lot of the regressive policies that are coming from our own government, and also the US, is actually making people realize that they need to take matters into their own hands," Ms. Taylor said.
Q3 2017 Sustainability Newsletter l Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • This newsletter contains articles on Breckinridge's new community outreach program, how millennials are poised to redefine investing for the better, and why climate change has enduring relevance in intelligent long-term investing.
  • To meet needs of professionals seeking knowledge about the expanding fields of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Citizenship, Sustainable Investing and related subject matters, Governance & Accountability Institute has partnered with the Swain Center for Executive Education at University of North Carolina Wilmington to offer an online, self-paced learning course.
ESG Investors Like Gains as Much as Anyone Else l Investment News
  • The average socially conscious fund has edged out the S&P 500 the past 12 months, gaining 18.6%, according to Morningstar. Part of the reason could be the collapse in oil prices. ESG funds tend to be light on oil because of environmental concerns. The Parnassus Fund (PARNX), for example, has no energy stocks in its portfolio. And that has worked out just fine. Energy stocks have tumbled 35% since oil's peak of $105 a barrel in June 2014.

 

Investment Manager News
 
  • SwissRe is implementing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) benchmarks across its entire $130bn investment portfolio, with the switching process due to be completed in the third quarter of this year. Last year SwissRe moved to adopt ESG-based benchmarks for its actively managed credit and equity portfolios. A spokeswoman for the company said it was around 90% through the shift for the whole portfolio. Guido Fürer, group chief investment officer at Swiss Re, said adopting broad-based ESG benchmarks “has been the most meaningful and strategic step in our journey to integrate ESG considerations into the investment process”.
BlackRock Expands iShares Fixed Income ETF Offering l Business Wire
  • BlackRock is infusing the mortgage-backed bond market with a competitively priced choice to traditional mortgage bonds: a lower cost exchange-traded fund, iShares MBS ETF (MBB). The firm is transforming MBB to be a financial instrument and risk management tool of choice for investors seeking exposure to the mortgage market. BlackRock is also launching four new fixed income smart beta and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) ETFs to meet increasing client demand.

UBS is Backing an Investment Fund Co-founded by Bono l Business Insider

  • UBS has made sustainability one of the cornerstones of its wealth-management business. On Monday, it announced that UBS Wealth Management and UBS Wealth Management Americas have raised $325 million for The Rise Fund, an impact investment fund led by private equity firm TPG Capital. The Rise Fund was founded by Bill McGlashan, the cofounder of STX Entertainment, singer-songwriter Bono, and Jeff Skoll, a billionaire Canadian engineer. The fund has an investment cap of $2 billion.
  • Bentall Kennedy released its 2017 Sustainability Report Summary today, entitled Invest Soundly + Sustainably, showcasing industry-leading practices for sustainable investment, management and development, in real estate. The report examines many of Bentall Kennedy's properties across North America and their role in shaping communities as part of a living, breathing ecosystem challenged with combatting climate change in our increasingly fragile environment.
Christian Super Charts a Course for Institutional Impact Investing l Impact Alpha
  • Christian Super is not stopping with its 10% allocation to impact investments, which is already impressive for an institutional investor. To the more than AU$100 million out of its $1.3 billion portfolio, the Australian pension fund has committed another $50 million. The kicker: the impact portfolio has exceeded performance benchmarks at a lower risk than other asset classes (except cash).

Axa IM Signals ESG Commitment With McDonald Hire l Portfolio Adviser 

  • The Rosenberg Equities branch of the asset manager has been taking into account environmental, social and governance factors in its portfolio management process since the mid-1990’s, but said the hire comes as part of a push to achieve “full ESG integration” across the platform by the end of the year. The move toward full ESG integration “is fully in line with Axa IM’s overarching convictions and commitment to investing responsibly,” said Rosenberg Equities chief executive Heidi Ridley.

Biggest Pension Fund Craves More After Foray Into ESG Assets l Bloomberg

  • The world’s largest pension fund aims to boost and broaden its socially responsible assets after buying them for the first time this year. Hiromichi Mizuno, who helps manage $1.3 trillion in assets for Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund as chief investment officer, said the fund wants to increase allocation to the point where it impacts results. For that to happen, GPIF President Norihiro Takahashi has said ESG assets should reach around 10 percent of its Japanese equity holdings, Mizuno said.

Green Alpha Advisors Goes Long on the 'Next Economy' l Opalesque

  • "The problem with a lot of ESG funds you see out there today," Garvin Jabusch, co-founder and CIO of Denver-based Green Alpha Advisors, says, "is that they just screen out industries like tobacco or oil and call it sustainable without thinking through what the future is." For Jabusch, many ESG strategies are too heavily correlated to the S&P 500 benchmark, which is essentially an index of the legacy economy. Big chunks of the benchmark include companies that only fit an ESG strategy if the definitions of ESG and sustainability specifically, are generous enough to support natural gas producers or heavy manufacturing companies. Jabusch contends that a true ESG strategy should be focused on the economy of the future, which means looking at companies that are positioned to deal with climate change, resource scarcity and widening inequality.
Shareholder Engagement

The Value of the Shareholder Proposal Process l Harvard Law School Forum on 
Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

  • Early in June, the House of Representatives passed a piece of legislation, dubbed the Financial CHOICE Act, which would gut much of Dodd-Frank. One of its provisions would make it impossible for all but the largest investors to file shareholder proposals by requiring that investors must hold at least one percent of the outstanding shares for three years in order to file a proposal. This would remove a key tool that investors use to communicate with corporate boards. This article highlights some of the reasons why shareholder proposals should be limited by this Act.

Investors Beware: Your Shareholder Rights Are At Risk l Forbes

  • This article outlines how the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017. Section 844 of the Act would make it nearly impossible to file shareholder resolutions by raising the ownership requirement from $2,000 worth of shares for one year to 1% of the company’s outstanding stock for three years. If you are concerned about losing your rights, contact your Congressional representatives and voice your opposition to the Financial CHOICE Act.
Green Bonds

Natixis Facilitates First “Green Bond” CMBS Deal l Commercial Property Executive

  • Noting it received “very strong interest” from major green investors across the globe, French corporate and investment bank Natixis collaborated with Ivanhoé Cambridge and Callahan Capital Properties to issue the first green tranche in a CMBS to refinance part of the acquisition loan for 85 Broad St. in Downtown Manhattan. The $72 million green-specific tranche was issued as part of the CSAIL 2017-C8 CMBS Securitization to refinance part of the $358.6 million fixed-rate, first mortgage loan provided by Natixis in the spring to purchase the 1.1 million square-foot office tower in the Financial District.

  

General Endowment News 

Regents Vote to Increase University of Texas Austin’s Share of Endowment Payout l Statesman

  • The governing board of the University of Texas System voted unanimously Thursday to boost UT-Austin’s share of the system’s annual endowment payout by 4 percentage points, or $24 million, to $338 million. The flagship campus had been scheduled to receive 49 percent, or $314 million, of the payout. Instead, it will get 53 percent, effective for the budget year that begins in September.

  

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Businesses and Investors Need to Act on Climate Now l Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • The business case for acting on climate change has never been stronger, and the need to act has never been more urgent. This article explores trends related to the economy and climate change, and three steps businesses and investors can take to move forward.
Climate Ratings for Investment Funds: Do They Show the Full Picture? l Money Observer
  • A new climate change metric, Climetrics, which aims to rate investment funds on a scale of one to five ‘leaves’, has been launched today. The ratings consist of an analysis of the underlying fund holdings (this part makes up 85 per cent), the investment policy of the fund and mandate (which makes up 5 per cent), as well as the public statements companies make and the agreements they sign up to (the remaining 10 per cent). This article explores the strengths and weaknesses of this type of rating system.

U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Change Accord Seen as ’a Gift,’ Experts Say l Pensions & Investments

  • ESG investing should be part of opportunity management, panelists said during the Global Future of Retirement conference in New York late last month. The U.S. decision to exit the Paris climate change accord could turn out to be "a gift," some experts contend. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the pact made at the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference resulted in an immediate uptick in terms of inflows into low-carbon funds, said Cindy Rose, head of responsible investing-stewardship at Aberdeen Investment Management.
Massive Iceberg Breaks Off from Antarctica l NASA
  • An iceberg about the size of the state of Delaware split off from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf sometime between July 10 and July 12. “The interesting thing is what happens next, how the remaining ice shelf responds,” said Kelly Brunt, a glaciologist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Maryland in College Park. “Will the ice shelf weaken? Or possibly collapse, like its neighbors Larsen A and B? Will the glaciers behind the ice shelf accelerate and have a direct contribution to sea level rise? Or is this just a normal calving event?”

  

Fossil Fuel Divestment 

Banks Have Cut Funding for Fossil Fuels Projects 22 Percent l Yes Magazine

  • A new report from a consortium of environmental groups shows that big banks are reducing their investment in fossil fuel projects. While this is welcome news to the movement led by tribes to get banks to divest from fossil fuels—most notably in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline—the truth behind the numbers isn’t so rosy: it isn’t enough to stop global climate change, and banks still invest in or lend money to fossil fuel companies. “The financial industry needs to be held accountable for its fossil fuel financing and that takes a lot of forms,” says Jason Disterhoft, a senior campaigner for Rainforest Action Network. “We need everybody to continue to work and make that happen.”

Unversity of Toronto President Gertler’s Retreat From Responsibility (Opinion) l The Varsity

  • The University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation’s (UTAM)recent report on responsible investment describes steps to include environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in U of T’s investment decision making. This article argues that President Gertler should revisit his decision not to divest, implement the spirit and letter of the divestment policy, and stop funding an industry that is burning up the future of U of T’s students.

 

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: July 7th, 2017

New IEN Member
Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: First-time Fund Managers in Emerging Markets Bring a New Model to PE in Africa l Intentional Endowments Network, July 11th, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Speak to any capital provider and they will tell you the standard private equity model is not structurally sound for the African ecosystem – as evident by the too few deals, limited human capital to run portfolio companies, and constrained levers for liquidity events. So, can the Find-Fund-Support value chain be deconstructed to build a new model for investing in Africa? In this webinar, four first-time fund managers will discuss how they tweaked different elements across the Find, Fund and Support value chain to create a new model for investment in Africa.
  • On July 12, 2017, The Investment Integration Project (TIIP) and the Center for Applied Research (CAR) at State Street, in conjunction with Ceres, will co-host an event that explores the intersection between efficiency and intentionality, and how the alignment of the two leads to effective 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.
The SRI ConferenceThe SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2017, San Diego, CA
  • The SRI Conference – on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders and investment professionals working in the ESG, Shareowner Engagement, and Impact Investing space. Together, we are catalyzing the shift to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. We deliver education and inspiration — in between legendary networking opportunities.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how electric cars will outsell fossil-fuel powered vehicles within two decades, according to a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast; Solar company shares have taken a curious turn upward since President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement; Big investors lose patience with unresponsive corporate directors; and Chicago has the greenest office buildings.
PRI Finds Disconnect Between Investors, Ratings Agencies on ESG Factors l Pensions & Investments
  • A number of disconnects exist between investors and credit-rating agencies when it comes to environmental, social and governance factors, said a new report by the Principles for Responsible Investment. The report outlines how investors and credit-rating agencies are taking ESG factors into account in credit risk analysis. The report said a particular disconnect exists when it comes to views on the time horizons over which ESG factors should be considered. "Investors and (rating agencies) struggle to agree on what is a reasonable time horizon to consider," said the report. "Investors tend to align their time horizons with their investment objectives: some buy and hold long-term bonds until maturity (while) others trade more frequently."
  • Although socially responsible investing is getting popular, in the future investors will no longer need a separate investment bucket for companies with socially responsible practices in place, says Columbia Threadneedle’s Ed Kerschner. Instead, companies that have good returns and dividends will have good environmental, social and governance practices in place, says Kerschner, chief portfolio strategist for Columbia Threadneedle, a global asset manager with $467 billion in client assets.   “There are still people who believe you have to sacrifice returns to invest in socially responsible companies, but that has been proved false,” Kerschner says. Columbia Threadneedle’s investments that take ESG issues into consideration outperform the S&P average.

The Value of SDG-Focused Business Models l Eco Business

  • What does the chief executive of the world’s largest consumer goods company have to say about the business case of the Sustainable Development Goals? Listen to Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman in this exclusive interview.
Is Sustainability Reporting Working? l Eco Business
  • More companies are now reporting the impact they have on the environment and society. But where is the value in doing this, and what effect does it have in the real world? Eco-Business asked the new chief executive of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Tim Mohin.
  • Leading institutional investors have backed the first close of a new “blended finance” climate investment facility called Climate Investor One (CIO) with $412m (€365.6m). CIO is the inaugural initiative of Climate Fund Managers (CFM), which was set up in October last year as a joint venture between Dutch development bank FMO and Phoenix InfraWorks, the Cape Town-based infrastructure specialist headed by former Macquarie Africa Chairman Andrew Johnstone. It the first of an intended series of initiatives designed to combat the effects of climate change. Targeting Africa, Asia and Latin America, CIO will focus on solar, wind and ‘run-of-river’ hydro renewable energy projects.
Interview: RobecoSAM CEO on ESG’s ‘Unprecedented Transformation’ l Investments and Pensions Europe
  • Investors are catching up with corporates in appreciating sustainability as a concept that can help unlock opportunities rather than just mitigate risk, according to the chief executive of RobecoSAM. Speaking at a Responsible Investor conference in London earlier this month, Aris Prepoudis – who took over as CEO in January – said investors’ approach to sustainability was unfolding in a similar way to how the corporate sector embraced the concept. Speaking to IPE after the conference, Prepoudis said that although the focus among asset owners was still on risk management he was confident more would appreciate the opportunities that came from sustainability investing.
What Exactly Is Sustainable Investing? l Morningstar
  • In this article, John Hale, Head of Sustainability Research at Morningstar, answers two questions One has to do with the definition: What exactly is meant by sustainable investing? The second has to do with the availability of appropriate funds: Are there enough viable choices to build a diversified sustainable portfolio?
  • BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, recently conducted a survey that was discussed by Anne Ackerley in The BlackRock Blog. They that found that “67% of millennials say they want investments to reflect their social and environments values.”  By the way, the article went on to say that, “… for women, it’s 76%.”  We refer to this type of investing as “Impact Investing” and it is becoming a way of life for the next generation of investors.  The question is; if you don’t have tons of money to invest, how can you get started?
Investment Manager News
 
  • SRI-focused asset manager Mirova, part of Natixis Global Asset Management, has entered into exclusive negotiations to purchase a majority stake in London-based impact investment boutique Althelia Ecosphere. Mirova stated that the projected acquisition of Althelia aims to create a European platform operating from London and Paris and dedicated to natural capital investing. The platform would provide investors with access to investment solutions addressing global environmental challenges such as climate change, protection of landscapes, biodiversity, soil and marine resources.
Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management Announces ESG Data Partnership with OWLshares l Business Wire
  • Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management, an investment management firm with a focus on socially responsible investing (SRI), announced today its partnership with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) optimization technology provider, OWLshares. The partnership gives Reynders, McVeigh access to a wide set of proprietary ESG data and underscores the firm’s commitment to defining more precise performance metrics for its investment research. By adding the ability to optimize the value of ESG data in its own research process, Reynders, McVeigh has evolved its capabilities for analyzing the underlying factors that contribute to operating performance in different companies across sectors.
  • Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world’s largest pension fund, announced Monday that it will shift 3% of its passive domestic equity investments (roughly $8.8 billion) into environmental, social, and governance (ESG) indices. The first of the $1.2 trillion fund’s picks include MSCI’s “Empowering Women” WIN index, in favor of its gender equality agenda. The index focuses on companies that “encourage more women to enter or return to the workforce,” ranking companies according to the gender balance of staff from their new hires to their executive board.
Sustainalytics on a Strong Growth Path l The Fifth State
  • ESG research and ratings organisation Sustainalytics is expanding its Sydney office and building a team to better serve Australia and New Zealand, which is the second-fastest growing region for responsible investment, after Japan. Sustainalytics is a multinational firm with 13 offices worldwide, employing 300 team members and more than 170 in-house research analysts with multidisciplinary expertise across 42 sectors.
Green Bonds
 
Should You Invest In 'Green Bonds?' l Forbes
  • Traditionally, socially-responsible investing meant buying stocks of companies that weren’t in the alcohol, gambling, gun or tobacco business or that helped the environment, as well as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that owned them. But lately, the idea has spread to bonds — specifically “green” bonds used by companies and municipalities for projects with eco-friendly or climate benefits such as initiatives for clean water, renewable energy, energy efficiency or habitat restoration.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
Institutional Investors Welcome TCFD Climate Task Force Recommendations  (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • European institutional investors have welcomed the final recommendations of the high-level climate disclosure task force set in train by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. The panel – the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) under the auspices of the Financial Stability Board – released the report today and it was hailed by the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC). The TCFD aimed to devise a principles-based framework for voluntary disclosure, balancing the needs of the users of disclosures (investors) with the challenges faced by the preparers (companies). It has developed a voluntary framework for companies to disclose climate-related information in their financial filings.
Investors Slowly Start to Push Climate Change up Their Agenda l Reuters
  • Investors are slowly starting to push companies to reduce their carbon footprint and help the world meet targets on limiting global warming that were agreed in the 2015 Paris climate talks. Energy firms have faced shareholder demands to do more to curb carbon emissions, while some pension funds are demanding more commitment to climate goals from firms they invest in. Yet progress has still been modest since the Paris deal agreed by almost 200 nations came into force in November last year, aiming to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. "Lots of investors are looking to align their investments with a 2 degrees world. It's just at what pace they all get there," said Fiona Reynolds, managing director at the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.
  • Africa was for the first time high on the Agenda of the 2017 G20 Summit, which was held in Germany recently. The Summit brought together nine heads of government, including Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (ADB), as well as the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Dr Angela Merkel, German Minister of Finance, Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, and the German Development Minister, Dr Gerd Müller. The various state officials discussed issues of central importance to the continent’s future, as well as forging a new partnership between the 20 most important industrialised and emerging countries and Africa.
Are Canadian Investors Ready to Give up Oil? l Wealth Investor
  • For many Canadian investors it’s hard to imagine owning a strong portfolio that doesn’t contain any oil stocks, which is understandable. Oil is so tightly linked to Canadian markets and the economy that it’s now ingrained into the psyche of investors who rely on their portfolios to deliver returns. However, a new study has made discoveries that could debunk that myth. The research shows that portfolios holding a significant concentration of heavy carbon-emitting companies can actually put an investor’s funds at risk.
  • This platform includes a new database with the world’s biggest coal plant developer companies disclosed.
Clean Energy
 
APG Finances Largest Onshore Wind Power Project in Sweden, Will Take Leading Role in New Projects (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • Dutch pension investor APG has teamed up with HgCapital’s Vasa Vind to build Sweden’s largest onshore wind power project – and says it will take a “leading role” in initiating new projects. APG and Vasa, a portfolio company of HgCapital’s Renewable Power Partners 2 fund, said they have started construction of the 288MW Åskalen project in Jämtland, central Sweden. The project will comprise 80 Vestas V136 3.6MW turbines and total construction investment will amount to approximately €300m, and commissioning will be completed in 2020 delivering a total power production close to 1TWh/year, equivalent to 50,000 Swedish households.
Volvo Plans to Go Electric, to Abandon Conventional Car Engine by 2019 l The Wall Street Journal
  • For Volvo the internal combustion engine has run its course. In the face of competition from upstarts like Tesla Inc., which begins production this week of its new mass-market Model 3 electric battery-powered family car, the Chinese-owned automotive group on Wednesday said all new Volvo models from 2019 would be either fully electric or a hybrid. Volvo is the first major auto maker to abandon the technology that has powered the industry for more than a century.
  • Sustainable energy finance may maintain momentum even as President Trump moves to protect fossil fuel interests. On June 1, the same day the president announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at reducing carbon emissions, Gurtin Municipal Bond Management unveiled a Municipal Social Advancement strategy designed in part to meet investor demand for sustainable investment products.

 
General Higher Education Endowment News

  • Harvard University will soon sell off its real estate, private equity and venture capital assets as part of a plan to shed more than $2 billion worth of holdings from its endowment. The company that handles the university’s $35.7 billion endowment, Harvard Management Company, has committed to sell the interests in real estate funds to Landmark Partners, Bloomberg reported, citing sources. The assets are worth around $1.6 billion, according to the publication.
Far From Campus, Universities Put Their Money into Farms, Railroads, Oil Rigs l Boston Globe
  • This article explores how the country’s elite universities, sitting atop multibillion-dollar endowments, venture into far more exotic and potentially risky realms than individual investors as they chase higher returns to fund day-to-day operations, from scholarships for students to salaries for superstar professors, and where they put that money.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Divest-Invest: Foundations Urged to Back Climate Solutions While Divesting from Fossil Fuels l Democracy Now
  • The Wallace Global Fund recently awarded the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe the inaugural Henry A. Wallace Award and a $1 million investment in renewable energy projects led by the tribe. In this Q&A Amy Godman talks to the fund’s executive director, Ellen Dorsey, about the "Divest-Invest" movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: June 30th, 2017

New Members


New Reports
 
 
Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: First-time Fund Managers in Emerging Markets Bring a New Model to PE in Africa l Intentional Endowments Network, July 11th, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Speak to any capital provider and they will tell you the standard private equity model is not structurally sound for the African ecosystem – as evident by the too few deals, limited human capital to run portfolio companies, and constrained levers for liquidity events. So, can the Find-Fund-Support value chain be deconstructed to build a new model for investing in Africa? In this webinar, four first-time fund managers will discuss how they tweaked different elements across the Find, Fund and Support value chain to create a new model for investment in Africa.
  • On July 12, 2017, The Investment Integration Project (TIIP) and the Center for Applied Research (CAR) at State Street, in conjunction with Ceres, will co-host an event that explores the intersection between efficiency and intentionality, and how the alignment of the two leads to effective 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.
The SRI ConferenceThe SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2017, San Diego, CA
  • The SRI Conference – on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders and investment professionals working in the ESG, Shareowner Engagement, and Impact Investing space. Together, we are catalyzing the shift to a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. We deliver education and inspiration — in between legendary networking opportunities.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how companies around the globe with a combined market value of more than $3.3 trillion threw their support behind Bank of England Governor Mark Carney's final report on climate change that weighs the financial risks to investors implied by global warming; Shareholder support for environmental proposals at big U.S. companies reaches record levels; UPS to boost electric and alternative fuel vehicle purchases; Men join corporate boards with less experience than women do.
Institutional Investors More Likely to Invest in Companies with Business-Driven ESG Disclosures, According to New White Paper l PR News Wire
  • 98% of institutional investors say a company with strong ESG initiatives makes for a more attractive investment, according to the newly released white paper, Is Your ESG Report Getting Noticed?, developed by Burson-Marsteller, a strategic communications and global public relations firm, and research firm PSB. The white paper revealed results of a survey conducted among institutional investors at banks, insurance companies and hedge/mutual funds that have investments of at least 10,000 shares on the stock exchange. Respondents have worked at their current company for at least one year. PSB conducted the research on behalf of Burson-Marsteller from December 2016 to January 2017.
  • Buying into companies based on environmental, social and governance factors, has become a hot trend on Wall Street, spawning a new industry that sells investors company ratings based on those factors and funds dedicated to rated companies. However, some investors and funds may rely too much on the scores of one rating firm, said Dan Hanson, a portfolio manager at Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management. "The scores are in some cases being used in a way they are not really designed for," Hanson said. "It's problematic to bolt them on to an investment process." There are no set criteria for who is bad and who is good and so-called ESG ratings vary widely, meaning investors may be less protected than they think, for example, from a scandal over labor practices or board pay.
  • Taking ESG factors into account leads to a more comprehensive analyses and better-informed investment decisions, according to a report by Colonial First State Global Asset Management (CFSGAM). he ‘Responsible Investment and Stewardship Report’, which surveyed CFSGAM’s staff on their investment beliefs relating to sustainability and ESG factors, found that 80 percent believed that considering these issues might help to conduct more complete analyses and lead to better-informed investment decisions.
  • The 2016 African Investing for Impact Barometer shows that investments that seek to combine financial returns with positive social, environmental and/or governance outcomes are flourishing on the African continent. The study identified that more than $350 billion is committed to investing for impact strategies across nine countries. 
Alternative Food Production Needs Fresh Bread l The New Food Economy
  • Food is relocalizing. But powering smaller-scale ag will require a shift in financial thinking—and a new type of lender willing to fork over the dough.
A History of Impact Investing l Investopedia
  • Impact investing is the latest topic on investors’ radar screen, boasting double-digit growth and widespread acceptance among those seeking to align their portfolios with their personal values. But it’s much more than a fad, impact investing has a rich history.
Can Good Corporate Citizenship Be Measured? l The New York Times
  • A new study, developed by a team of quantitative strategists led by Savita Subramanian at Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Global Research unit, appears to be the most expansive, looking at several hundred companies over a decade starting in 2005. The study found that investors who look at ESG metrics are less likely to buy shares in companies with volatile stocks. Those investors are also significantly less likely to buy into companies headed toward bankruptcies. And “stocks that ranked within the top third by ESG scores relative to their peers would have outperformed stocks in the bottom third by about 18 percentage points from 2005 to today,” the authors reported. But the study also found, repeatedly, that if you’re looking for stocks that outperform their peers, simply looking at ESG issues isn’t a panacea.
One Pension Fund Manager Is Going Against the Grain l Bloomberg
  • Hiroichi Yagi filled the Secom Corporate Pension Fund with stocks when his peers hid in bonds, considering it his duty to support Japanese equities. He embraced environmental, social and governance investing as a way to reduce volatility. And he signed Japan’s stewardship code for institutional investors right at the start, making Secom the only corporate pension fund outside of financial firms to accept the voluntary standards.
10 Reasons ESG Investing Is Growing l Pimco
  • According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, over $22 trillion of assets were managed under responsible investment strategies globally in 2016, up 25% from two years before. This is one of many statistics showing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing moving into the mainstream. This article outlines 10 major trends contributing to the rise.
Pensions are Starting to Judge Hedge Funds on ESG l Bloomberg Professional Services
  • As many of the world’s biggest investors, including public pension funds, foundations, endowments, family offices, and sovereign wealth funds increase their focus on responsible investing, they are starting to ask whether hedge funds they invest in are incorporating sustainable strategies. “When investors like us are looking at a hedge funds investment, we look at it from a perspective of what we are doing in responsible investing more broadly,” Marta Jankovic, sustainability and governance specialist at pension fund manager APG Asset Management said at panel discussion organized by the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment in New York June 12.
Investors Focus on Making an Impact, but What’s the Strategy? l CNBC
  • Assets under management using SRI strategies grew to $8.72 trillion by 2016, a 33 percent rise over two years. SRI strategies have evolved from simply avoidance of "sin stocks" to "environmental, social and governance" investing and "impact investing."
Cities Looking to ‘Green Banks’ to Help Fund Sustainable Infrastructure l EcoBusiness
  • Cities are exploring how “green banks” can help fulfil their pledges not only under the Paris Agreement but also under the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What exactly are “green banks”?
Fiduciary Duty
 
'No Legal Barrier' for UK Funds on ESG Investments: Law Commission l Investments and Pensions Europe
  • Defined contribution (DC) pension schemes in the UK have invested much less than peers abroad in socially and environmentally beneficial investments because trustees seem unsure whether they are allowed to, according to a new report. The Law Commission, a non-political body that recommends legal reform where needed, has confirmed in a government-prompted report that there are no legal or regulatory barriers to pension schemes making socially responsible investments. Law Commissioner Stephen Lewis said: “Defined contribution pension schemes will be investing billions of pounds over the next decade, and it’s only right that they seek to get the best returns for their clients.”
  • The Law Commission has called on the government to clarify investment rules which can make it hard for schemes to make socially responsible investments. The report called Pension Funds and Social Investment, published last week, is in response to the government's request for the commission to look at how far pension funds may consider ESG issues.

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
  • A panel of top financial institutions and companies has launched guidelines to push for more disclosure about the impact of climate change—highlighting rising concern about the potential investment risks posed by global warming. The task force, which was commissioned by a group of global regulators known as the Financial Stability Board and led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said companies should disclose in financial filings how they are planning for risks and opportunities related to climate change. It also called for companies to develop specific metrics and targets to measure performance in that area.
  • Just 5% of European pension funds have considered financial impact of climate change, despite extreme weather changes, according to a new report.  According to the European Asset Allocation Report, published by fund administration and research experts Mercer, despite a slight improvement since 2016, the vast majority of responding funds are “still not active” on climate issues.
Exxon investors want a bank-style stress test for climate change | NPR Marketplace
  • Representatives from Wespath, Bloomberg and Ceres comment on recent shareholder resolutions at Exxon and Occidental calling for more transparency and disclosure around the risks climate change poses to the companies. Nearly two-thirds of Exxon’s shareholders voted to make the company disclose its plans around possible increases in climate change regulation. Some of Exxon’s biggest shareholders — BlackRock and Vanguard — are thought to be the driving force in the climate change vote. Neither company would confirm how they voted.
General Higher Education Endowments News
 
BlackRock Tapped to Run Arizona State's $600 Million Endowment l Bloomberg
  • BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest money manager, is making headway in investing for U.S. college endowments. BlackRock will manage Arizona State University Foundation’s $600 million endowment, succeeding Perella Weinberg Partners’ Agility unit. The transition starts July 1, the foundation and BlackRock said.
NEW BOOK: 'Endowment Management for Higher Education' Outlines Best Practices for Higher Education Investment Committees l CrossRoads Today
  • The numerous challenges of investing are both technical and human and to overcome them, endowment stewards must be as attentive to potential landmines in governance as they are to those in global markets. Endowment Management for Higher Education, written by Nicole Wellmann Kraus, CFA and Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, CFA, both of Strategic Investment Group, and Jay A. Yoder, CFA and published by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), aims to set a framework for best practices around endowment management.   
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Council Workers’ Largest Trade Union Votes for Divesting Pensions l Platform London
  • After two years of impressive mobilisation by UNISON grassroots members across England, Scotland and Wales, the trade union has officially taken on fossil fuel divestment policy. This week, the union’s National Delegate Conference voted unanimously to seek divestment of Local Government Pension Schemes from fossil fuels over five years giving due regard to fiduciary duty UNISON is one of the two largest trade unions in the UK, with over 1.3 million members, and the first to adopt formal divest policy.
North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Asks for End to California Coal Divestment Initiative l West Fargo Pioneer
  • The North Dakota insurance commissioner urged a California official this week to cease an initiative that calls for insurance companies to divest from coal. Jon Godfread, a Republican, sent the letter with officials from five other states to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Wednesday, June 21, according to a news release. "Commissioner Jones's attempt to dissuade insurance companies from investing in the coal industry is a deeply misguided overreach," Godfread said in a statement. "Our job as insurance commissioners is to protect consumers and serve the greater public interest through the effective and unbiased regulation of the insurance marketplace." The letter asked Jones to end the so-called "Climate Risk Carbon Initiative."

 

 

 

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Weekly News Round-Up: June 23rd, 2017

IEN in the News

Cambridge Associates and the Intentional Endowments Network Outline a Blueprint for Action for Investors Wishing to Uphold Aims of Paris Climate Agreement and Implement Environmental Factors Into Portfolios l Market Wired

  • Though the United States government is no longer supporting the Paris Climate Agreement, hundreds of American institutions -- including endowments and foundations -- have joined businesses, philanthropists, cities and states across the country in remaining committed to the international accord. Many institutions struggle to integrate environmental objectives and considerations (including ESG factors) into their investment portfolios, and the language of the Paris Agreement provides a good framework for moving forward.  IEN and Cambridge Associates have created related resources for institutions, "Considerations for ESG Policy Development" and "Paris Agreement in the Investment Policy."
3 Ps Critical to Investing in Aftermath of US Withdrawal from Paris Agreement l Chief Investment Officer
  • Despite President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, institutional investors have united with businesses, philanthropists, cities, and states across the nation to pledge their allegiance to the international accord. For many institutions finding it difficult to integrate environmental objectives and considerations (including ESG factors) into their investment portfolios, the blueprints can be found in the Paris Agreement. Cambridge Associates’ Tom Mitchell, managing director in the Mission-Related Investing Practice and Georges Dyer, principal of the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN), have outlined a simple strategy to aid institutions with investment issues.
 
 
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.
Webinar: Introduction to Impact Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, June 29th, 2017, 2:00 PM EDT
  • In this webinar, Fran Seegull, Executive Director at the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance at The Ford Foundation, Allison Spector, Senior Manager of Investors' Council & Membership Programming at The Global Impact Investing Network, and Shawn Wischmeier, CIO of Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, will offer an introduction to impact investing for institutional investors.
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.
  • On July 12, 2017, The Investment Integration Project (TIIP) and the Center for Applied Research (CAR) at State Street, in conjunction with Ceres, will co-host an event that explores the intersection between efficiency and intentionality, and how the alignment of the two leads to effective 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.
New Reports
 
Paris Agreement in the Investment Policy l Intentional Endowments Network and Cambridge Associates
  • Developing effective sustainable investment policies requires a process of stakeholder engagement that includes education about and exploration of the sustainable investing thesis, field, and opportunity set. Through such a process investors can articulate their purpose, priorities, and principles and integrated these pillars within their investment policies and decision criteria. Climate change is a critical sustainability priority, which presents a range of risks and opportunities for investors. One potential framework for integrating climate considerations into investment policies is the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Here we list the three aims of the Agreement and offer examples of language that may be included in a statement of priorities.
Considerations for ESG Policy Development l The Intentional Endowments Network & Cambridge Associates
  • At the highest level, investors with policies they consider to be effective and broadly supported share some common traits. They have articulated their purpose, priorities, and principles and integrated these pillars within their investment policies and decision criteria. One key to arriving at this point is the investment of time. Effective ESG policy creation requires a process of stakeholder engagement that includes education about and exploration of the sustainable investing thesis, field, and opportunity set. This resource contains descriptions of the key elements of purpose, priorities, and principles and some examples of language that may be useful for spurring dialogue, thinking, and policy development.
New Energy Outlook 2017 l Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • Focused on the electricity system, NEO combines the expertise of over 80 market and technology specialists in 12 countries to provide a unique view of how the market will evolve What sets NEO apart is that our assessment is focused on the parts of the system that are driving rapid change in markets, grid systems and business models. This includes the cost of wind and solar technology, battery storage, electricity demand and the uptake of EVs among others.
 
 
Endowment SRI/ESG News
  • The University of Winnipeg Foundation has created a responsible investing policy to guide its endowments, the school's revenue development arm announced Friday. Sparked by a "divest from fossil fuels" student movement which began in 2014, the foundation has also committed to establishing a renewable energy (green) investment fund as an option for investors, it said. "The adoption of our responsible investing policy and the related initiatives... are a welcome evolution," foundation president and chief executive officer Brian Daly said in a news release. "While adhering to our mandate, we are keen to continue demonstrating alignment with, and sensitivity to, the values and concerns of our stakeholders and fellow members of the UWinnipeg community."
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how the green-bond market has boomed on the allure of investments that help the environment and the industry is now trying to show that the reality matches these ambitions; Hedge fund Man Group Plc named a head of responsible investing; Vivint Solar Inc. leads solar stock rally; Women lose ground on board seats; and oil majors risk wasting $2.3 trillion if peak demand looms.
  • In this Q&A, Suzanne Fallender, Director of Corporate Responsibility for Intel Corporation and Irving S. Gomez, Assistant Corporate Secretary and Managing Counsel in the Corporate Legal Group for Intel Corporation explore how Intel engages in ESG conversations with investors, their approach to disclosure, and how the ESG conversation has evolved in the governance community in recent years.
ESG ETFs Could Find Support from Institutional Investors l ETF Trends
  • According to a recent survey conducted by BNP Paribas Securities Services, titled “Great Expectations: ESG – What’s next for asset owners and managers,”almost 80% of asset managers and asset owners use ESG factors in their decision making, and among those incorporating ESG, 46% plan to invest at least half of their assets in funds that incorporate ESG by 2019, reports Michael Katz for Chief Investment Officer. “This represents a significant shift from today,” according to the report, “where for 45% of asset owners and for 40% of asset managers, 25% or less of their funds is either invested in or marketed as ESG/RI funds.”
High ESG Performance Translates Into High Financial Performance l Forbes
  • This Q&A with Chris McKnett, Managing Director of State Street Global Advisors and Mirtha D. Kastrapeli, Global Head of State Street’s Center for Applied Research explores recent trends that show that investors are actively seeking to align their investments with their values to create a positive outcome.
The Truth is Finally Starting to Emerge About Socially Responsible Investing l CNBC
  • This article discusses how socially responsible investing funds perform as well as traditional stock funds, algorithms to identify ESG factors are continually improving, the main hurdles SRI funds continue to face, and how socially responsible funds that focus on excluding stocks, rather than identifying stocks that score highly on ESG metrics, have a harder time generating good long-term performance.
Consultants, Rules, and Jargon: the ‘Roadblocks’ to Impact Investing l Investments & Pensions Europe
  • Pension fund consultants have been standing in the way of greater adoption of impact investment by their clients, it was argued at a conference yesterday. Katherine Garrett-Cox, member of the supervisory board at Deutsche Bank and former chief executive and chief investment officer of Alliance Trust, said pension fund consultants were “a roadblock that needs to be broken down”. David Scott, chairman at Tribe Impact Capital, an impact-focused wealth manager, argued that trustees needed to take more responsibility and challenge consultants. Fiduciary duty was about the financial return and societal impact of investments, he added.
Survey Suggests ESG Investing Can Boost Plan Participation l Napa Net
  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in investment decisions are growing in importance and could help increase retirement plan participation and contribution rates, according to results from Natixis Global Asset Management’s 2017 ESG Report. The survey of 7,100 individuals from 22 countries consists of institutional decision makers, global financial advisors and individual investors, and U.S.-based DC plan participants. The objective was to develop a picture of how both professional and individual investors feel about the role and impact of ESG.
Shareholder Engagement
  • This piece highlights the shareholder engagement work of Natasha Lamb, managing partner at the Boston investing company Arjuna Capital (a founding member of IEN), specifically in relation to the gender pay gap. It also profiles several other leaders in the field of shareholder engagement and fair pay activism.
Shareholders Force ExxonMobil to Plan for a World with Paris Agreement's Emissions Restrictions l World Resources Institute
  • Lost in the announcement earlier this month that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, there was another potentially high-stakes climate change development: 62 percent of ExxonMobil's shareholders voted to instruct the oil giant to report on the business impact of global measures designed to limit warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. This follows a similar successful shareholder vote at Occidental and PPL, a large utility holding company.

General Higher Education Endowment News
  • The University of Texas Investment Management Co. named Thomas Britton “Britt” Harris, who runs one of the largest U.S. pension plans, as chief executive officer to help boost performance at the $40 billion fund. Harris, 59, chief investment officer at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, succeeds Bruce Zimmerman, who stepped down last year from Utimco, as the university endowment money manager is known. The Utimco board approved the appointment Friday at a board meeting in Austin.
 
 
General Higher Ed Sustainability News 
  • The city of Phoenix and nearby Arizona State University are teaming up to launch a public-private incubator focused on finding new uses for waste from textiles, food scraps, batteries and more. Housed at the university's Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN), the program, announced Wednesday, officially will be called the RISN Incubator. There, organizers will look to harness momentum around the concept of a circular economy, or business models built on eliminating waste by continually cycling materials back through supply chains.
Climate Risk, Science, and Regulation
 
The Energy 202: Exxon, GM and Pepsi Plan to Back Carbon Tax Floated by Ex-GOP Officials l Washington Post
  • A group of nearly a dozen multinational corporations is backing a plan from senior Republican statesmen to replace President Obama's greenhouse-gas regulations with a carbon tax. The coalition of former GOP officials -- which includes three former secretaries of the Treasury, James A. Baker, Henry Paulson and George P. Shultz, and calls itself the Climate Leadership Council -- made headlines in February when it proposed eliminating nearly all Obama-era climate policies in exchange for a tax on carbon emissions starting at $40 per ton. Framing the proposal as a "carbon dividend," revenue raised by the tax would be redistributed as a quarterly check to Americans under their plan.
Global Valuation Standards Body Says it’s Open to Exploring Impact of Climate Change (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • The International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC), a global standards body chaired by accounting industry veteran Sir David Tweedie, has launched a consultation aimed at shaping its agenda and technical work, which could lead to the inclusion of sustainability topics – such as the impact of climate change – in the valuation of businesses and assets. Among the IVSC’s Agenda Consultation Paper there are topics that could affect ESG practitioners and investors. For example, the IVSC is looking for input on non-financial liabilities, an area which could be related to accounting standards such IAS 36 (impairment of assets) and IAS 37 (provision, contingent liabilities and contingent assets). Other topics of the IVSC’s consultation are the valuation of biological assets and extractives, which could strike a chord with ESG concepts such as natural capital and stranded assets.

Investment Manager News
 
Saudi Arabia's Sedco Capital Launches Green Investment Strategy l Nasdaq
  • Saudi Arabia'sSedco Capital said on Thursday it has launched an investment strategy combining environment-conscious and sharia-compliant principles, as Islamic financial firms gradually embrace socially responsible investing. The move by Jeddah-based Sedco, an Islamic firm managing $1.8 billion worth of Luxembourg-listed funds, could help develop green investing in the Middle East and make Islamic finance appeal to a wider client base.
One Billion Dollar Impact-Investing Team Joins Vanderbilt Financial Group, the Sustainable Broker Dealer and RIA l Market Wired
  • Vanderbilt Financial Group, also known as The Sustainable Broker Dealer and RIA, continues their recruiting streak making their voice heard in the Impact Investing community and shaking up the Investment world with their passion for, "Teaching clients how to do good with the money they invest," as Chief Disruption Officer and CEO, Steve Distante says. Vanderbilt has seen an increase of over 30% in Financial Advisors over the past year. The 20 new Registered Representatives are located in three branch offices in New Jersey and New York City. This team is well aligned with Vanderbilt's intense focus on Impact Investing (also known as ESG or Environmental Social Governance focused and as SRI or Socially Responsible Impact Investing).
Fossil Fuel Divestment & Other Divestment Campaigns
 
Oklahoma Attorney General, Others Blast California Insurance Regulator's Call to Divest From Coal l NewsOK
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and fellow Republican attorneys general in 11 other states want to stop an effort by a California regulator to get insurance companies operating in that state to divest from coal and disclose their fossil fuel investments. Hunter and the attorneys general — as well as one governor — sent a letter Monday to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones accusing him of trying to "publicly shame those who invest in American energy." The letter threatens legal action if Jones doesn't revise his policies.
  • Exxon Mobil, the world's largest public oil and gas company remains a prime target for fossil-fuel divestment campaigns. Divestment, as a strategy used to effect political change, is increasingly used by influential institutions. The prospect of large-scale, institutional divestment makes Exxon Mobil an unattractive long-term investment. However, Exxon Mobil continues to be an attractive medium-term investment for investors seeking healthy dividend payments and regular dividend increases. Exxon Mobil faces a growing, long-term threat from campaigns which promote divestment from fossil-fuel companies. Investors who plan to hold Exxon Mobil for long periods of time should vigilantly monitor divestment campaigns targeting the company.
Sweden’s Largest Pension Divests From Paris Accord Violators ExxonMobil and TransCanada l Common Dreams
  • In a major win for the fossil fuel divestment movement, the #ExxonKnew campaign, and efforts to block investments in the companies backing fossil fuel pipelines, Sweden’s largest pension fund, AP7, announced this week that it will divest from six companies that are in violation of the Paris climate agreement. This includes particularly bad actors ExxonMobil and TransCanada, making AP7 the first pension fund to divest specifically from Exxon.
Socially Responsible Investing: Divesting from Fossil Fuels l The Bill Fold
  • In this Q&A, Reverend Jenny Phillips, a woman who has been on the forefront of the movement, helping push a global religious organization with a $21 billion investment fund towards divestment from fossil fuels, discusses how she got started, what kind of action she’s taken to further this cause, and how you can get involved in the climate change movement in your own community, including divestment from fossil fuels.
University of Winnipeg Students Camp Outside for the Night to Support Fuel Divestment l CBC
  • Dozens of students are braving the rain and chilly temperatures while camping outside for the night on the front lawn of the University of Winnipeg to draw more attention to fossil fuel divestment. The event was organized by Divest UWinnipeg, an environmental group that's part of a divestment movement across Canada, pushing universities to stop investing in the fossil fuel sector. The campaign comes just as the  University's Board of Regents gets ready to vote Monday on a motion to implement a policy on fossil fuel divestment.
Students Gear up for Battle After University of Winnipeg Board Rejects Fossil Fuel Divestment l CBC
  • The University of Winnipeg Students' Association promises to continue its fight against fossil fuels after a decision by the university's board fell short of complete divestment on Monday night. The University of Winnipeg's board of regents had received a new policy guiding investments for endowments to the University of Winnipeg Foundation. The university said in a news release the new policy is similar to those of other universities across Canada. The policy is responsible and commits to establishing a renewable energy investment portfolio known as a green fund as an option for investors, the news release says.
Auckland University Staff Demand Fossil Fuel Divestment l Auckland Now
  • Auckland University is being called on by its own staff to sell its fossil fuel investments. An open letter signed by 240 staff from eight faculties released publicly on Wednesdayurged the University of Auckland (UoA) to sell its coal, oil and gas investments. The letter comes after two years of campaigning against the university's fossil fuel investments by university group Fossil Free UoA. The campaign has included marches, petitions and a 12 hour occupation of Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon's wing in May.
Dissonance and Divestment: Profile of An Activist l Resilience
  • This piece is an updated excerpt from Chuck Collins’ new book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good (Chelsea Green). Chuck Collins is director of the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies where he co-edits Inequality.org.

UK Insurer Aviva to Halt Tobacco Investments l Financial Times

  • Aviva, one of the UK’s biggest life insurance companies, is to ditch its tobacco investments. The group joins a growing wave of companies which have divested from tobacco. Axa promised to get rid of its tobacco investments last year, and more recently Scor and the Irish sovereign wealth fund have agreed to do the same. Aviva had about £1bn of investments in the industry. The equities have almost all been sold, while the bond investments will be left to run off.

 

 

 

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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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