Weekly News Round-Up: December 2nd, 2016

  • This report takes investment decision-makers through key questions to consider on climate-related systemic risk, challenging the common reasons for not acting. The report argues that hedging, risk assessment and divestment aim to “manage the unavoidable” – the first order impacts. However, these strategies fall short of addressing the second and third order impacts in complex, inter-connected systems. The report sets out to stimulate the necessary conversations between investment management organizations, their asset owners, and their consultants on the actions required to “avoid the unmanageable”.

 

Upcoming Events
 
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?
  • This webinar will help members learn how to pursue on-campus solar energy. Campus solar case studies will be presented from two AASHE members, and two national experts will discuss the larger trends driving solar energy on campuses. AASHE will also announce a contest that will provide detailed technical assistance to five campuses seeking to implement campus solar arrays.
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
 
The Financial Case for Decarbonizing Investment Portfolios (Subscription) l Responsible Investor
  • The Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition (PDC) recently released its second annual progress report: Investment Portfolios in a Carbon Constrained World. The report describes the actions being taken by PDC’s 27 signatories (representing over US$3,000 billion in assets under management) to decarbonize their investment portfolios. 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance (Dec. 1)
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlighted how investors concerned about the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project have started submitting shareholder proposals to the energy companies building the pipeline as well as to the lenders behind it; Van Eck plans the first green bond ETF; SASB finds consumer-facing companies are better ESG reporters; and only one in five funds has a female investment manager.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance (Nov. 23)
  • Last week's Bloomberg Brief highlighted how a drop in federal government support for electric vehicles won't stop demand for zero emission cars, PepsiCo.'s latest acquisition; what's ahead for Tesla after the SolarCity deal; a Q&A with John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer for United Technologies Corp; and an identified bisexual wage gap.
What are the Big Sustainable Investment Themes for Next Year and Beyond? l Investment Week
  • As 2017 approaches, sustainable investment is high on the agenda for many fund managers and experts. Here, they reveal which areas will make headlines and how they will gain exposure to them within their portfolios.
A Rundown of November Reports on Business, SDGs and Investing l Devex Impact
  • November was a busy month in the world of business and the sustainable development goals and the financing behind social and environmental challenges — at least if evaluated by the number of reports released. This article taken a look at a host of reports, white papers and research released in November.
 
Impact Investing
 
Place-Based Impact Investing: How to Invest in Your Own Backyard l Cornerstone Capital Journal of Sustainable Finance
  • A model to encourage broad-based place-based impact investing across all asset classes seems to be lacking in the impact investing sphere.  For fiduciaries of place-based organizations’ funds, like those at community foundations, pension plans, endowments and many family wealth pools, the how of regional impact investing is challenging. The due diligence requirements for what would be a small portion of a portfolio are as stringent as in global investing, but resources are often too constrained to allocate the necessary time and effort to seeking these smaller investments and finding enough of them for diversification, as well as measuring the impact and outcomes of these investments.
Impact Investing: A primer for IR Professionals l IR Magazine
  • This article offers a brief introduction to impact investing and how it differs from other sustainable investing strategies.
What is the Link Between SDGs and Impact Investing? l Triodos Investment Management
  • A little over one year ago, The United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals were created as a global call to action for positive change. Near the anniversary of the establishment of the SDGs, this article looks at how impact investing connects to the SDGs and the urgency behind it.

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
  • This article lays out reasons why the incoming administration should reevaluate its position on the Paris Agreement and choose to stay. As the president-elect and relevant members of his transition team have made statements dismissing the mounting evidence of human-caused climate change, these arguments are needed for advancing U.S. interests that are distinct from the urgent need to slow and ultimately halt human-caused global climate change. 
Tesla Shock Means Global Gasoline Demand Has All But Peaked l Bloomberg
  • The International Energy Agency forecasts that global gasoline consumption has all but peaked as more efficient cars and the advent of electric vehicles from new players such as Tesla Motors Inc. halt demand growth in the next 25 years. That shift will have profound consequences for the oil-refining industry because gasoline accounts for one in four barrels consumed worldwide.
  • The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University announced today the launch of its Climate Policy Lab (CPL), a first-of-its-kind research and policy center working to evaluate current climate policies, utilizing empirical, informed research to make concrete recommendations to policymakers around the world. The Lab is a source of independent and objective advice for governments contemplating new policies consistent with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Washington Won't Have Last Word on Climate Change l Bloomberg
  • This article was adapted from remarks delivered by Michael Bloomberg to the China General Chamber of Commerce.
Arctic Ice Melt Could Trigger Uncontrollable Climate Change at Global Level l The Guardian
  • Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe. The Arctic Resilience Report found that temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.
Trump's Big Plan for the Coal Industry Just Got Even Harder l CNBC
  • President-elect Donald Trump faces an uphill battle fulfilling his promises to revive the U.S. coal industry. The battlefield became even more pitched when Canada said it would speed up its effort to reduce its coal consumption. America's neighbor to the north was the fifth-largest market for U.S. coal in 2015. Its pledge on Monday to get off coal sooner than expected will only pile more pressure on a U.S. industry that has seen nearly half of its production fall into bankruptcy due to falling demand, lower prices and a global oversupply of coal.
Trillium Asset Management and 365 Other Companies Reaffirm Support for Paris Climate Agreement l Trillium Asset Management
  • Trillium Asset Management along with approximately 365 businesses and investors have organized a statement urging the incoming Trump administration and global leaders to continue support of the Paris Climate Agreement. The statement was announced at a press conference during the COP22 climate negotiations last week in Marrakech, Morocco.
Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate l The New York Times
  • Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Finland Reveals Plans to Wipe out Coal Use by 2030 (Subscription) l Business Green
  • Within the next fifteen years coal will have no place in the Finnish energy system, according to a new climate plan released by the Finnish government which sets out a roadmap towards the country's new climate strategy.
Marrakech Climate Talks Show There Is No Turning Back On Clean Energy Transition l Forbes
  • The just-concluded Marrakech climate talks reflected a shared understanding of the need to supercharge the already irreversible global clean energy transition. Even as some fretted that political developments in the U.S. might chill early-stage implementation of the Paris Agreement, the opposite occurred. As the tremendous economic and social costs of climate change continue to mount, and as the window of opportunity for stabilizing the climate shrinks fast, talks among country delegations, cities, states, companies, investors, labor leaders and civil society took on a renewed sense of urgency in accelerating forward.
The End of the Load for Coal and Gas l Carbon Tracker Initiative
  • Renewable power generation costs are already lower on average worldwide than those of fossil fuels and clean energy plants will become even more cost-competitive by 2020, a new sensitivity analysis published by the Carbon Tracker Initiative finds.
U.S. Companies to Trump: Don’t Abandon Global Climate Deal l The New York Times
  • Hundreds of American companies, including Mars, Nike, Levi Strauss and Starbucks, have urged President-elect Donald J. Trump not to abandon the Paris climate deal, saying a failure by the United States to build a clean economy endangers American prosperity. In a plea addressed to Mr. Trump — as well as President Obama and members of Congress — 365 companies and major investors emphasized their “deep commitment to addressing climate change,” and demanded that he leave in place low-emissions policies in the United States.

Clean Energy
 
Trump and Clean Energy – Gloom, Probability and Hard Realities l Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • In this article, Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, explains what he thinks Trump's presidency will mean for clean energy.
Clean Energy Analyst: Renewables Are 'Here To Stay' Under Trump Presidency l NPR
  • NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis, about the future of renewable energy under the Trump administration.
General Endowment & Higher Education Sustainability News
 
Yes, Tuition is Rising, But Endowments Probably Aren't the Answer l EAB
  • Lawmakers and advocates are calling on colleges and universities to divert more of their endowment funds toward scholarships to combat rising tuition rates, but institutions argue that view is short-sighted. Representatives of many institutions say supporting low-income students is exactly what they're trying to do, although it has become increasingly difficult to accomplish in a challenging economic climate.
Portland State University Wins National Award for Community Engagement l PSU News
  • The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has named Portland State University the winner of the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award in recognition of its 27-year partnership with Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. 
Simon Fraser University to Reduce Investment Carbon Footprint by 30% by 2030 l Metro News
  • Simon Fraser University’s Board of Governors announced Thursday it will reduce the carbon footprint of its investments by at least 30 per cent by 2030, making it the second Canadian university to commit to such a reduction.The University of Ottawa made the same commitment in April 2016.
Temple University Endowment Surpasses $500M for First Time l The Province
  • Temple University officials say that the north Philadelphia school's endowment has grown to surpass $500 million for the first time. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports university leaders credit both an increase in donations and better investment strategies as the reason for Temple reaching the milestone.
America's Richest Colleges and Universities Brace for Budget Hits as Endowments Stumble l Washington Business Journal
  • An American City Business Journals analysis of endowment returns at 25 private, nonprofit schools with some of the largest investment portfolios in the country found that all but one — Boston University — saw a year-over-year decline in value. Cumulatively, those 25 endowments shed 4 percent, or $5.3 billion, of their value during the most-recent reporting period. The results for these 25 schools suggest that for private colleges collectively, this could be higher ed's worst year on record since 2009, when the average college endowment reported a 16 percent loss for the year. 

Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment Soars in UK Universities l The Guardian
  • The number of British universities divesting from fossil fuels has leaped to 43, a quarter of the total. The surge means the UK leads the world in campus action to pull university funds from oil, gas and coal. Financial institutions and charities are also divesting and at least $2.6tn (£2.1tn) of assets are covered by such pledges around the world.
Trinity College to Announce its Decision on Divestment, Recognizing Global Movement l University Times
  • Universities across the globe, including Trinity College in Ireland, are paving the way for other institutions to divest from fossil fuels. While the campaign began in the US, it has rapidly gained traction in Europe, with over 160 divestment commitments from various institutions in Europe, including the capital cities of France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In Europe alone, this already totals more than $4 trillion worth of divested fossil fuel stocks.
New York University President Talks Divestment and the Board of Trustees l NYU Local
  • NYU President Andrew Hamilton took strong stances against divesting the university’s holdings in fossil fuel and the boycott, divest, and sanction movement that aims to cut off international support for Israel—two activist causes that have gained relative traction at NYU—during a recent interview with NYU Local.