Weekly News Round-Up: November 18th, 2016

New Resources
 
  • Highlights from this report include: SRI investing assets have expanded to $8.72 trillion in the United States, up 33% from $6.57 trillion in 2014, much of this growth is driven by asset managers, who now consider ESG criteria across $8.10 trillion in assets, up 69 percent from $4.8 trillion in 2014, the top two issues considered both by these money managers and by their institutional investor clients is conflict risk and climate change, and from 2014 through the first half of 2016, 176 institutional investors and 49 investment managers controlling $2.56 trillion in assets filed or co-filed shareholder resolutions on ESG issues.
  • In the first report in Barclays’ Impact Series, their study shows the positive effect that environmental, social and governance investing can have on bond portfolio performance.
Living Planet Report 2016 l World Wildlife Fund
  • The latest edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report reveals that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012. We could witness a two-thirds decline in the half-century from 1970 to 2020 – unless we act now to reform our food and energy systems and meet global commitments on addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and supporting sustainable development.
 
 
Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: The LP Case For ESG l Privcap, November 23, 2016, 11:00am - 11:45am EST
  • Privcap will present a fascinating conversation with two investment officers at North Carolina Department of State Treasurer who conducted research benchmarking ESG policies and impact across major institutional investors
RI Americas 2016: Long Term Value Creation l Responsible Investor and Bloomberg, December 6-7, 2016, New York, NY
  • This event will explore some of today's most critical ESG issues including: How is the US election result going to change responsible investment in America? What are action points from COP21 to COP22? What will next year’s proxy battle headlines be? Is there a conflict between activist investing and declining returns? Who needs to raise their game on ESG, and why? What ideas are there for product development across asset classes?
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.

 

Sustainable / ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights discussion on chemical footprinting being called the next frontier in sustainability disclosure; sustainable investments surging to $8.7 trillion; and how, despite President-elect Donald Trump's stance on climate change, ESG investors say states and cities in the U.S. will continue to provide investment opportunities for fighting climate change and social inequality.
Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg Survey Finds Sustainable Investing Has Entered the Mainstream l 3bl Media
  • According to a new survey published by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and Bloomberg L.P., two-thirds of asset management professionals surveyed (65%) say that they are using sustainable investing strategies to achieve competitive market-rate financial return alongside positive social and/or environmental impact.  Sixty-four percent believe its adoption will continue to grow.
Millennial Motivation -- Why ESG Reporting Is An Emerging Standard l Forbes
  • In this Q&A with Maureen Kline, Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability for Pirelli Tire North America, the topics of shareholder engagement, reporting frameworks, and the main drivers toward sustainability are discussed.
ESG Investors Weight Performance and Moral Considerations l Plan Sponsor
  • As more and more assets are invested in portfolios that consider ESG factors, researchers are attempting to better measure the effectiveness of impact investing, both financially and morally. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College observes there is an increasing amount of empirical evidence across each of these approaches that shows incorporating ESG factors into investment decisions can at least marginally improve the investment selection process and enhance risk-adjusted returns.
Investors are Not Immune to Antibiotic Resistance (Subscription) l Responsible Investor 
  • Neither the food nor the pharmaceutical sectors are adequately addressing the issue of antibiotics usage in their production supply chains. In the case of pharma, companies have shown little interest in boosting their R&D around new product development given the high costs and relatively low return profile associated with antibiotics. Despite the reduction in efficacy of current antibiotics, there remains minimal corporate incentive to develop new products. This leads to corporate inaction and investor risk.
The Trump Effect on Environmental Investing: Positive? l The New York Times
  • Lisa Woll, chief executive of US SIF, recently talked with the New York Times about ESG investing, the election's impact on the growing field and some of the risks inherent in investing in such a hot area. 
The Transition to a Low-carbon Economy Brings Investment Risks and Opportunities (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • As global policymakers discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, investors should consider how ‘transition risk’ impacts their portfolios. Companies likely to be affected — principally those in the natural resource and extraction sectors, but also those in power utilities, chemicals and industrial goods — make up 30 per cent of the FTSE 100 index of the largest UK-listed firms.

 

  • A new study released by CECP and supported by Prudential Financial, Inc. found that large corporations invest approximately US$2.4 billion each year in initiatives and ventures designed to achieve financial returns as well as a positive economic, social, or environmental impact – commonly referred to as “impact investing.” The groundbreaking pilot study, Investing with Purpose, is the first time that the corporate role in impact investing has been analyzed in depth.

 

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
International Climate and Security Consensus Statement l The Center for Climate and Security 
  • The Climate and Security Working Group International's International Climate and Security Consensus Statement, released on November 15, 2016, was signed by 27 members of the group, representing a broad range of nations and experience – including in the military, national security, and foreign policy fields.  The statement opens with the following determination: "We the undersigned members of the international security community conclude that climate change is a risk to international peace and stability. We call on world leaders to address climate risk in their national, regional and international security planning."
  • 2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row, according to the UN. It means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have been this century. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, published at the global climate summit in Morocco, found the global temperature in 2016 is running 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. This is perilously close to to the 1.5C target included as an aim of the Paris climate agreement last December.
  • In this article, William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle, illustrates climate change as a design failure. He explains that anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration, and in the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool. He proposes a new language of carbon that recognizes the material and quality of carbon so that we can imagine and implement new ways forward. 
Former French President Sarkozy Proposes Carbon Tax on US Goods if Trump Scraps Paris Climate Pact l RFI
  • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that Europe should impose a carbon tax on American imports if Donald Trump pulls the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told AFP last Friday that Trump might reconsider his pledge to cancel the Paris deal, saying it would “create serious problems if anybody wants to undo it.” 

 

Clean Energy

  • This article offers an overview of the different clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities across the country. 
Obama Administration Announces New Financing For Renewable Energy Projects And Actions To Spur Innovation And Promote Energy Access Globally l Energy.gov
  • This week the Obama Administration announced a number of actions to continue the global transition to zero-and-low carbon energy sources, including: Committing $125 million in OPIC financing for renewable energy projects in El Salvador and India; and providing $4 million in awards to eight household solar firms under the Power Africa Scaling Off Grid Grand Challenge to empower entrepreneurs and investors to connect 20 million households in sub-Saharan Africa to modern, clean, and affordable electricity.
  • St. Olaf College’s many dozens of buildings on its Northfield campus are now being powered entirely by wind energy, the liberal arts school and Xcel Energy announced this week.

 

General Endowment News
 
Duke University's Advisory Committee on Investments Discusses Transparency Issues l The Chronicle
  • Duke's Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility (ACIR) held an open forum this week to discuss transparency procedures regarding the University endowment’s holdings and allocations. Currently, Duke’s procedures for confidentiality reflect that of many of its peer institutions, which do not recommend “any transparency with respect to [their] endowment holdings.” All reports are made public on the ACIR website, but information that is believed to be “sensitive” is sometimes redacted from the reports. 

 

  • University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Board of Trustees Chairman David Cohen agreed to meet with student protesters following a seven-hour sit-in outside Gutmann’s office, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Over two dozen Penn students staged a sit-in in College Hall to protest the University’s decision not to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
DONG Energy Confirms Oil & Gas Divestment Amidst Improved Third Quarter l Clean Techniqua
  • In DONG Energy's second quarter as a publicly listed company, the Danish energy giant confirmed its long-rumored intentions to divest itself of its Oil & Gas division, amidst third quarter earnings which saw earnings increase by 7%.
Islamic Society of North America Announces Divestment From Fossil Fuels l Carbon News
  • As representatives of many of the world’s main religions join financial leaders in calling for a switch of investment from polluting energy to renewables, the Islamic Society of North America says it will do just that, in a landmark divestment commitment from a Muslim institution. The undertaking was announced at a side event at COP22, the conference of the UN Convention on Climate Change, in Marrakech.
UC Berkeley Students and Community Members Protest for Bank Divestment from Dakota Access Pipeline l The Daily Californian
  • About 100 students and community members marched from campus to Downtown Berkeley protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sunday, in conclusion of an environmental justice conference held on campus over the weekend.The marching intermittently stopped as speakers, including multiple students of Native American descent, presented in front of Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America — all banks indicated by SEC filings to be lenders or partners with groups that support the pipeline.
Students Demand University of California Fossil Fuel Divestment l Daily Nexus
  • Students across the University of California System urged Regents to divest from the fossil fuel industry this week, presenting the board with a petition signed by several hundred faculty members. Regents will discuss divesting from the fossil fuel industry in the continuation of their quarterly meeting.
Largest Bank in Norway Pulls its Assets in Dakota Access Pipeline l kfyrtv.com
  • A press release from Greenpeace this week says the largest bank in Norway, DNB, sold its assets in the Dakota Access Pipeline. They say this news follows the delivery of 120,000 signatures gathered by SumOfUs.org to DNB by Greenpeace Norway and others urging the bank and other financial institutions to pull finances for the project.