Weekly News Round-Up: November 4th, 2016

Upcoming Events
 
The SRI Conference | First Affirmative Financial Network, November 9-11, 2016, Denver, CO
  • The SRI Conference - on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing serves thought leaders, investors, and investment professionals in the ESG, Shareowner Advocacy, and Impact Investing space.
Sustainable Investing Moving into the Mainstream l Boston Security Analysts Society, November 17, 2016, Boston, MA 
  • This seminar was designed to help mainstream professionals navigate the explosion of approaches and increased client demand for sustainable investing. This yearly event brings together thought leaders, practitioners, and asset owners to provide practical advice and share experience-based examples and insights.
2017 Presidential Climate Leadership Summit | Second Nature, February 13-15, 2017, Tempe, AZ
  • This Summit celebrates the 10th anniversary Second Nature's Climate Leadership Network (formerly the ACUPCC). It is designed for campus sustainability teams, including specialized content for presidents, faculty, staff, and endowment professionals. IEN is partnering with Second Nature to design endowment-related sessions. 

New Resources

Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments l Intentional Endowments Network
  • IEN's new report titled “Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments” was designed to encourage conversation about the financial and societal benefits of clean energy investments higher education can make – both as a customer and an institutional investor through their endowments. It explores the current opportunities and barriers to such investments. 
  • This is the first global report showing the current state of play for corporate action on climate change; how prepared companies are for the low-carbon transition; and which companies are already starting to reap the benefits.
  • The US SIF Foundation is pleased to share this paper, the first edition of which was issued in 2013, to highlight how sustainable, responsible and impact investors have engaged the investment industry, companies, individuals, communities and governments–either individually or collectively–to address environmental, social and governance challenges and to reform the way business is conducted. It presents examples of how these investors have made a difference through their approaches not only to public equity investing, but also to such asset classes as private equity, cash, fixed income, real estate and infrastructure.
PRI Publishes New Guide for Asset Owners on ESG Integration l Principles for Responsible Investment 
  • The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) announced this week the launch of the publication, Investment Policy: Process & Practice: Asset Owner’s Guide to Complete ESG Incorporation, which provides concrete, step-by-step guidance on how asset owners should be integrating ESG. 
IEN in the News
 
  • This short article offers a summary of IEN's newest white paper: "Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments."
  • The San Francisco State University Foundation and the Intentional Endowments Network brought together presidents, trustees, and key stakeholders representing university endowments throughout California. The August 2016 conference provided a forum to discuss strategies and paths for the achievement of multiple investment goals. Karen Heifferon, Senior Investment Consultant, attended the sessions on behalf of Beacon Pointe and provided the linked report.

Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This weeks Bloomberg Brief highlights a slump in Exxon Mobil Corp.'s business that is reinvigorating debates among long-term investors about the risks of staying invested in shares of the world's biggest publicly traded oil company, as well as a report from Barclays on the performance of bonds with high ESG scores, and a Q&A with Bruce Kahn, portfolio manager at Sustainable Insight Capital Management. 
Five Reasons You Can’t Ignore Responsible Investment l Financial Times Adviser
  • This article outlines five reasons advisers should consider investing responsibly, including emphasizing how the companies and markets they invest in are run, how they generate profits and how they treat people and the planet.
Legg Mason, Inc. Issues 2016 Corporate Social Responsibility Report l 3BL Media
  • In a new report, Legg Mason announces that it has grown its FY 2016 long-term assets under management invested in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) products / investment strategies to 16% — up from 14% in FY 2015. There has also been a 62% increase in combined long-term AUM of Affiliates’ ESG / SRI products since FY 2013. 
How Investors Can Use Bonds to Save the World and Make Money l CNBC
  • Barclays is trying to get clients to consider applying SRI principles to corporate bonds. According to a study Barclays released this week, using benchmark guidelines under principles of ESG scoring, investors can put together an ethical portfolio that also provides returns. 
Top Equity Funds for Sustainable Returns l Morningstar
  • This interview highlights equity funds which don't compromise for profits. 
  • This article explores the differences and similarities between the terms responsible investment and socially responsible investment. 
How Ethical Investing Could Lead to More Than Just Bumper Returns l CNBC
  • The ESG values of a company are becoming more and more important to making investment decisions and can lead to positive results, according to experts in the industry. The trend of ESG investing is now becoming part of the mainstream investing paradigm, according to Hendrik Bartel, co-founder and CEO of data firm TruValue Labs. Events that have pushed forward ESG concerns include the Volkswagen emissions scandal and the fraud revelations at Wells Fargo.
 
 
Impact Investing
 
Impact Investing for Nonprofits: How to Make Your Assets Work for (Not Against) Your Mission l The Huffington Post
  • This piece, written by a program manager for philanthropic services at RSF Social Finance, discusses four key lessons for aligning investments with institutional mission: financial returns are not the only measure of success, strive for diversity in your mission-related investments, adopt an investment policy that reflects you impact philosophy, and philanthropic investors can and should take more risk.
 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
  • Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the world’s second-biggest energy company by market value, thinks demand for oil could peak in as little as five years, a rare statement in an industry that commonly forecasts decades of growth. “We’ve long been of the opinion that demand will peak before supply,” said Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry. “And that peak may be somewhere between 5 and 15 years hence, and it will be driven by efficiency and substitution, more than offsetting the new demand for transport.”
The Paris climate agreement is now official | The Guardian 
  • The significance of the Paris agreement coming into force today (Friday, Nov. 4, 2016) is easy to miss: it may seem like an anti-climax, given the travails that led up to its signing last December. But the moment is of huge importance. This is the first time that a legally-binding agreement, signed by all of the world’s functioning governments, has laid down a commitment to limit the growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with the goal of preventing global warming exceeding 2C above pre-industrial levels.
  • A global glut of oil and natural gas has sent prices tumbling over the last two years, and profits are evaporating. Improving auto fuel efficiency standards threaten to depress oil consumption eventually, and fleets of electric vehicles are gradually emerging in China and a few other important markets. Perhaps most troubling for oil companies over the long term is the goal — agreed to last December by virtually every country in the world at a climate conference in Paris — of staving off a rise in average global temperatures of more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
  • On September 26, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced that its Board of Directors had approved two new resolutions opposing public health standards recently put in place by the Obama administration. This continues ALEC's long and well-documented track record on climate change, which includes opposing federal attempts to reduce greenhouse gases, overruling municipal climate agreements, repealing renewable energy standards, and denying the scientific consensus that man-made climate change is occurring. This article discusses how different members or ALEC feel about these new resolutions.
Landmark Carbon Dioxide Concentration Passed; Marks New Climate Era l National Geographic
  • Climate change has entered a new phase, said the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Monday. The WMO reported that concentrations of CO2 “surged again to new records in 2016,” and it predicted that the annual average for CO2 would remain above 400 parts per million (ppm), 44 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution, for generations.
  • The top oil and natural gas lobbying group on Tuesday warned the Obama administration to not over-regulate the industry on its way out of office next year. One week before Election Day, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said it's tracking upcoming federal decisions on methane regulations, a study on the safety of hydraulic fracturing and a new five-year drilling plan, among other issues on President Obama’s plate before he leaves office in January.
Exclusive: Oil Majors Join Forces in Climate Push with Renewable Energy Fund l Reuters
  • Top oil companies including Saudi Aramco and Shell are joining forces to create an investment fund to develop technologies to promote renewable energy, as they seek an active role in the fight against global warming, sources said. The chief executives of seven oil and gas companies -- BP, Eni, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total -- will soom announce details of the fund and other steps to reduce greenhouse gases in London.
General Endowment News
 
U.S. Endowments, Pensions Reap Best Quarterly Returns Since 2014 l Bloomberg
  • After a grueling year for performance, large U.S. university endowments and public pensions saw a bounce in the fiscal first quarter. University endowments with more than $500 million in assets and pension funds with more than $1 billion each gained a median 3.7 percent in the first quarter through Sept. 30, according to results published Wednesday by Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service, a database provided by Wilshire Associates.
  
  • Barnard’s Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment is conducting an in-depth economic and social analysis report on possible ways in which the college can divest from fossil fuels. When it submits its report to the board of trustees’ Committee on Investments next month, it will do so with a definitive recommendation on which path the college should take.
Fossil Fuel Divestment: How Wide A Net To Cast? l Seeking Alpha
  • Institutional investors have several paths to reduce exposure to carbon risk in their portfolios. Some use tilts and optimizations approaches to limit benchmark risk. But other investors increasingly are being urged, and even required by regulations, to explicitly divest from fossil fuel holdings. For investors going the divestment route, the potential impact on their portfolio can vary substantially, writes Linda-Eling Lee, MSCI's global head of ESG Research.
Citing Risks, Harvard University Moves Away From Fossil Fuels l Yale Daily News
  • Members of Harvard University’s highest governing body told students earlier this month that Harvard has moved away from investments in coal, reflecting an investment strategy similar to that of its peer universities — including Yale.
‘Invest in Our Future, Not Our Demise,’ Climate Justice Boston College (CJBC) Chants at Rally l The Heights
  • Over 40 CJBC demonstrators gathered at a rally last week, hoping to push the University to divest its endowment from fossil fuel-related assets, including oil companies Exxonmobil and Shell. Representatives from the University have stated that they do not view the endowment as a tool to promote social justice. CJBC responds that to not divest is a violation of the University’s ethical investment guidelines, which state that BC “is firmly committed to the promotion of the dignity of the individual, personal freedom, and social justice.”
Bowdoin College Climate Action Seeks to Gauge Student Support With New Petition for Divestment l The Bowdoin Orient
  • Bowdoin College Climate Action (BCA) renewed its divestment efforts and began collecting signatures on a petition that asks the College “to permanently divest its endowment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies over the next five years” with the hopes of submitting it to Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) for a referendum.
Students Protest Notre Dame University Energy Policy; Call for Fossil Fuel Divestment l The Observer
  • Last month Norte Dame University President Jenkins announced a five-year sustainability plan to eliminate coal usage on campus by 2020 and provide at least 25 percent of the University’s energy from renewable resources by 2020. Student belonging to Fossil Free Notre Dame do not think this plan is enough. “We would love the University to divest from fossil fuels and to set a target of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and start to work to meet that,” one student said.
University of Virginia Student Group Still Fighting Uphill Battle in Divestment Effort l Richmond Times Dispatch
  • The University of Virginia fossil fuel divestment movement is gaining steam among University of Virginia students, but it’s getting a cold reception from the school's board of visitors. So far, the university has pursued an “inside strategy” of meeting with individual officials, but it hasn’t resulted in anything substantial.