Weekly News Round-Up: October 7th, 2016

IEN News

New IEN Member: We're excited to welcome our newest member, the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative, to the Intentional Endowments Network! FAIRR is an investor network that aims to put factory farming on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda. We now have 98 "contributing members" in the network - see the full list here

  

Vice President for Advancement at San Francisco State University speaks at CETYS International Seminar on Innovation in Higher Education l IEN Blog

  • On September 19, Robert J. Nava, The Vice President for Advancement at San Francisco State University (SFSU), spoke at The CETYS University International Seminar of Innovation in Higher Education. Nava's comments focused on social responsibility within the context of SFSU and the SF State Foundation's commitment to align its core values of social justice and environmental sustainability with socially responsible investing. His full comments are featured on our blog.

 

New Resources

ESG Grows Up: An Executive Summary of the Privcap Video Series "ESG in Private Equity Comes of Age" l Privcap

  • This resource is an executive summary of the Privcap video series “ESG in Private Equity Comes of Age.” Key findings of the video series included he finding that private equity firms with deep experience in ESG are refining how they report its impact to investors.

The Sustainable Infrastructure Imperative: Financing for Better Growth and Development l The New Climate Economy

  • This report identifies the main barriers currently restricting financing sustainable infrastructure, and lays out an agenda for unlocking the massive amounts of capital required. 

The Climate Accountability Scorecard: Ranking Major Fossil Fuel Companies on Climate Deception, Disclosure, and Action l The Union of Concerned Scientists

  • According to a recent study, just 90 companies have produced and marketed the fossil fuels and cement responsible for almost two-thirds of the world’s industrial carbon emissions over the past two and a half centuries. Fifty are investor owned coal, oil, and natural gas companies. All companies in this analysis must do more to distance themselves from the spread of climate disinformation.  

 

Sustainable / ESG Investing 

Family Offices Helping to Develop Best Practices in Impact Investing, Driven Largely by Millennials, Says Cambridge Associates l Market Wired

  • Family offices are among those leading the movement toward impact investing, the integration of values and investment strategy and the search for market-based solutions to social and environmental challenges like poverty, climate change and hunger. Next-generation and millennial investors have in large part been behind the increased interest in impact investing, according to a new report from global investment firm Cambridge Associates, "The Foundation of Good Governance for Family Impact Investors.

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • Highlights from this week's Bloomberg Brief include information on increasing Latin American green bond issuance, discussions on Tyson Foods Inc. investors pushing on plant-based protein (highlighting IEN's newest member -- FAIRR), and a Q&A with the Closed Loop Fund on improving recycling incentives.
Sustainable Investment Firms’ Assets Up 195%, And Should Keep Going | Barron's
  • Moody’s has analyzed sustainable investment strategies, which have already seen a huge boom in assets—and expects that growth to continue. Assets in firms that are signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI) are up 195% to $62 trillion as of April of this year, up from $21 trillion in 2010.
 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
  • The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord, a move that will make the sweeping international agreement a legal reality long before even those who negotiated it expected.The Paris agreement enters into force when at least 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, have joined it. Before Tuesday, those numbers stood at 62 nations and just shy of 52 percent of emissions, thanks to ratification by India over the weekend.
Oil Glut? Here Comes Some More! l The New York Times
  • New large oil and natural gas fields have been found in the last month. Two of them are in the United States — one in Texas and the other off Alaska. The new finds, while still preliminary and in need of more testing, could further cement two realities of the energy business: oil prices could stay low for a long time, and oil companies will keep seeking to increase their reserves for future production.
ExxonMobil Sued over Deceitful Cover-Up of the Dangers of Climate Change l Global Research, Center for Research on Globalization
  • The Conservation Law Foundation has just filed the first lawsuit against ExxonMobil for violations under the Clean Water Act and other laws, committed in its deliberate, reckless and deceitful cover-up of it’s true knowledge of the dangers of climate change.
What Are the Strategies for Climate-Proofing Portfolios? l Market Realist
  • Benchmark optimization is just one strategy for potentially climate-proofing portfolios. Other climate-aware investing methods include investing in benchmarks that take climate into account or proactively investing in climate-aware companies. In this series (Take a Look at the Road Map for Climate-Savvy Investing), we discussed the importance of ESG scores in investing and how bearing these factors in mind can help climate-proof one’s portfolio.
 
 
Shareholder Engagement

All in the Name of Shareholder Activism l Business Times

  • David Gerald is president of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS), a shareholder rights group he founded 17 years ago to protect investor capital. He leads an initiative to feed shareholders questions - three, to be exact, or more per company after perusing the annual reports - which are posted on the group's website so they can be raised to the board at meetings. It's a new initiative that began this year that has so far covered some 25 firms.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
  • Citing climate risk to clients and the communities it serves, Amalgamated Bank recently committed to divest itself from carbon risks across its own lending and investment holdings, and deepened its investment in an energy transition that builds a just and fair economy for all. Amalgamated Bank is the first U.S. bank to take such a step and sets a new standard among its peers in the financial services industry.
Weber State University Allowing Employees to Remove Fossil Fuels from Retirement Plans l Standard Examiner
  • Weber State University employees now have the option to dump fossil fuels from their retirement plan investments. Starting this semester, 1,430 full-time faculty and staff can opt to use the TIAA-Cref Social Choice Low Carbon Equity Fund, joining other universities throughout the nation on a movement toward fossil fuel divestment.

Northwestern University Student Leaders Dismayed Over Parts of Administration’s Socially Responsible Investment Committee Charter l The Daily Northwestern

  • Northwestern student leaders are concerned by discussions surrounding the socially responsible investment committee charter after their most recent meeting with administrators two weeks ago, in which the students said administrators did not follow up on previously agreed upon changes, including dropping two major components of the charter. According to a copy of the charter obtained by The Daily, both components remained as of two weeks ago.
Group Think: Fossil Fuels and Whether The University of Pennsylvania Should Divest l The Daily Pennsylvanian 
  • In this round table article, columnists from the University of Pennsylvania's student newspaper answer the question: "Do you think Penn should have divested? Are fossil fuels a 'moral evil'?"
  • Divest Concordia welcomed new members at its first General Assembly this past Thursday. The group has three goals this semester: to freeze all of Concordia’s new investments in the fossil fuel industry, to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies by 2020, and to increase the transparency of the university’s investments.
Is Divesting the Key to Sustainability? | NYU's Washington Square News
  • The article explores students' perceptions of NYU's broader sustainability activities and if they are contradictory with the university's refusal to divest from fossil fuel investments. 
 
Investment Manager & Strategies News
 
  • The Green Century MSCI International Index Fund has been launched today by Green Century Capital Management (Green Century). The fund is the first fossil fuel free international index fund available to U.S. investors.
Morningstar Launches 27 Indexes to Meet ESG Investing Appetite | ThinkAdvisor 
  • Morningstar has rolled out 27 indexes to give investors exposure to “high standards of sustainability” and a risk/return level that resembles the broader investment market. The indexes cover investments in broad regional markets around the world, along with markets in developed economies, emerging markets and single-country exposure. The index series builds on the research firm’s proprietary Sustainability Ratings (launched in March) for over 20,000 funds, as well as equity research on 1,400-plus companies and company sustainability scores (of 0-100) that evaluate firms based on more than 60 ESG metrics. It is based on company-level ESG research and ratings from Sustainalytics, an independent data provider.