Weekly News Round-Up: December 7th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: December 7th, 2018

Please find this week's news round-up below. 

Have a great weekend,
Nicole

 

Nicole Torrico (formerly Harman)
Program Manager, The Intentional Endowments Network
www.intentionalendowments.org

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New IEN Members
 
Sign-On Opportunities

Global Investor Engagement on Meat Sourcing

  • The FAIRR Initiative and Ceres have just launched a new investor engagement which is now open to new investor sign-ons: The Global Investor Engagement on Meat Sourcing. The engagement will focus on six of the largest global restaurant chains, and will ask these companies to set, and report on, a clear strategy for how they are managing climate and water risks. Companies included: McDonald’s Corporation (MCD); Yum! Brands International (YUM); Restaurant Brands International (QSR); Chipotle (CMG); The Wendy’s Company (WEN); Domino’s Pizza Inc (DPZ).

Statement of Investor Commitment to Support a Just Transition on Climate Change

 

More information on these opportunities is available on our Sign-On Opportunities page.

 
Sustainable Investing by Institutional Asset Owners

Frequently Asked Questions on Stanford's Investment Responsibility l Stanford News

  • The Board of Trustees on Dec. 4, 2018, announced a new investment responsibility framework for Stanford, including a new educational and research initiative. This article contains answers to questions about the new set of actions.

CalPERS Makes ESG Changes l Chief Investment Officer

  • Over the last eight months, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has revamped the portion of its global equity portfolio devoted to ESG investing as part of efforts to improve ESG returns. The changes were made before Southern California police sergeant Jason Perez unseated CalPERS Board President and ESG investment advocate Priya Mathur in October. Perez maintained in his election campaign that the $361.1 billion pension system had to move towards higher yields in its investment fund with less emphasis on ESG investments.

Brandeis University Trustees Make Long-Awaited Divestment Choice l The Justice

  • After months of deliberation, the Board of Trustees adopted a set of policies regarding fossil fuel investments at their November meeting, updating the 1973 guidelines that previously informed their investment decisions. Brandeis students have been pressing the administration to divest from fossil fuels for several years and have continued to do so in response to the recent policy announcement. In a Nov. 28 email to the Brandeis community, University President Ron Liebowitz outlined the new policies that will guide future investment. From now on, the University’s endowment funds will not be invested directly in “public or private companies or partnerships whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation.” 

Ireland's Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill to be Signed into Law l Highland Radio

  • Ireland is set to become the first country in the world to scrap the use of public money from investments in fossil fuel corporations. Donegal Deputy Thomas Pringle’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill received its final vote today in the Dail and is now due to be signed by President Michael D Higgins and enacted into law. Deputy Pringle says the passing of the Bill represents the potential for cross-party cooperation on the legislative process particularly on issues related to climate change.
 
New Reports

Apparel and Footwear 2018 Benchmark Findings Report l Know The Chain

  • This report discusses how, despite decades of public pressure and scrutiny the apparel sector as a whole is not taking meaningful action. Over half of the companies Know the Chain (KTC) evaluated scored below 50/100 and nearly a fourth scored below 10/100. It was encouraging to see that all of the companies that were ranked in 2016 improved in some way, however, most concerning was the lack of action on recruitment, which had the lowest average score of 18/100. 

Winners of 2018 IRRC Institute Research Award Examine Pressing, Big Picture Investor Issues – Impact of Index Funds and Impact of Responsible Investing l Business Wire

  • An academic research paper examining the corporate stewardship of index fund managers and a practitioner paper looking at how to measure the amount of sustainable investing in equity portfolios are the winners of the 2018 Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) annual investor research competition. The two winning research papers make a substantial contribution to understanding big picture, weighty issues for investors and the global economy,” said Jon Lukomnik, IRRCi executive director. “The winning academic paper examines the stewardship of index funds that own an increasingly large proportion of public companies. The winning practitioner research offers an innovative data-driven model to measure the level of sustainable investments in a portfolio. The authors make us think about how investments interact with real world economic activity,” Lukomnik said.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Survey of Institutional Investors Reveals Urgent Need for Public Companies to Address Societal Issues to Build Trust l Business Wire

  • Key findings from a new report include the following: 89% of investors have changed voting and/or engagement policy to be more attentive to ESG practices, companies should expect activism from all investors as 87% of respondents agree their firms are more interested in taking an activist approach to investing, and 65% of investors report that maintaining a healthy corporate culture and enforcing a corporate code of conduct at all levels of the company has a great deal of impact on trust.

The Feds’ 2,000-Page Prod for Sustainable Investing l Barron's

  • This article discusses the relationship between sustainable investing and a nearly 2,000-page climate-change report issued by federal agencies that predicts, unless greenhouse-gas emissions are significantly reduced, we face a hot, grim future that could inflict an economic toll, gobbling up a tenth of U.S. gross domestic product by 2100. Some effects are already visible, the study contends: increased droughts, wildfires, coastal flooding, and faltering cropland fertility in some areas.

Why ESG Matters To Investors And Investing l Seeking Alpha

  • This article discusses how many investors still see ESG factors as values-oriented and either: the primary object of focus, with investment outcomes somewhat less important; or distracting from the focus on delivering investment outcomes. Such a view can be very limiting. In fact, there are different ways of incorporating ESG into portfolios. Some options may, indeed, change short-term performance. However, in many cases, the performance differential may be a positive one.

Sustainable Infrastructure Investment, Climate Change, and Global Development l Brookings

  • As the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) gets underway in Poland this week to finalize implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement on climate, member countries and assembled experts would do well to emphasize the public and private capital needed to co-finance global sustainable infrastructure. This article highlights how their task is more challenging and urgent than ever.

Funds That Help Women Find Widespread Support l Financial Times

  • This article discusses how the #MeToo movement has spread through many sectors including finance, not least in the increased demand for investment products focused on promoting gender equality. “It’s been a big factor, but not the only one,” says Jackie VanderBrug, head of impact investment strategy in Bank of America’s wealth management division and an adherent of so-called gender-lens investing — an approach that seeks to realize a financial return while promoting gender equality in a measurable way. “It’s brought conversations to the fore that historically were not talked about — like questions around who gets funding.”

'Blue Planet Effect' Gives Boost to Sustainable Investment l Evening Standard

  • Sir David Attenborough’s hit TV show Blue Planet has helped sustainable investment go mainstream, the architect of a new £200 million ethical fund says. Andrew Dykes, founder of the Global Sustainability Trust, said the “Blue Planet effect” had helped transform investments which benefit environmental and social causes — so-called “impact investing” — into a major City trend.

TONIIC, Partner of GIIN, Wants to Bring Impact Investing to China’s Wealthy l Financial Times

  • This article discusses how, building on GIIN’s work, Toniic helps investors formulate impact investments by breaking down the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into discrete areas for impact investing. It also “curates” investment opportunities that it thinks are worth presenting to its members who exchange information and may more readily invest in ventures that already involve a peer.

Climate Change Will Have an Impact on All Retail Investors l FT Adviser

  • This article shares how investors can understand some of the risks associated with climate change as an investor, learn about the impact one can have as a retail investor, and describe ways in which retail investors can access ESG markets.

What the Climate Change Report Means for Investors, According to BlackRock’s Brian Deese l Barron's

  • Climate change has long been one of the factors driving the growth in sustainable investing. Disturbing new assessments about global warming, including the National Climate Assessment and a new United Nations progress report, will keep investors focused on climate-related risks. In this article, Barron's checked in with Brian Deese, the global head of sustainability for BlackRock, about how investors should think about the new reports. 
 

 

Investment Firm News

UBS Global Wealth Management Will Give ESG Scores to Funds l Investment News

  • UBS Global Wealth Management will score the ESG strategies of investment funds available to its advisers and clients starting next year. The scores will be placed on all long-only equity and bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds on the firm's non-U.S. platform, the wirehouse announced Monday. The scores also will be used on similar funds and separately management accounts on the U.S. platform's list of highly recommended investments. 

Leading Funds Rebrand and Refocus in November l Morningstar

  • This month a number of leading funds looked to rebrand and refocus their investment remit. This has been partly driven by necessity - such as the merger of two leading fund management houses, such as Standard Life Investments and Aberdeen Asset Management. But this is also a result of the changing world we live in, whether it is technology transforming specific sectors, or emerging markets becoming more complex and mature. The theme of a changing world can also be seen in a raft of new fund launches this month.

BlackRock is Getting Ready for Millennial Investors l CNN Business

  • This article discusses how BlackRock knows the world of investment is changing. As Gen-Xers and Millennials begin to accumulate more wealth, it intends to stay ahead of the curve. Earlier this year, the world's largest asset manager took a stake in Acorns, an app that invests people's spare change. BlackRock hopes Acorns can give it insight into the behavior of younger investors, so it can develop products to suit their needs down the line. The company is also fleshing out its suite of ethical and sustainable investing funds, which it expects to appeal to younger clients.

FTSE Russell, Sustainalytics to Develop ESG indexes l Pensions & Investments

  • FTSE Russell and ESG research firm Sustainalytics are working together to develop ESG indexes. Through this partnership, investors will have  ESG factor versions of the core Russell 1000, 2000 and 3000 family of U.S. indexes, using Sustainalytics' ESG Risk Ratings tools, said Tony Campos, FTSE Russell director of North America ESG, in a phone interview.
 
 
General Higher Education Sustainability News

Stanford to go 100 Percent Solar by 2021 l Stanford News

  • Stanford's solar future is growing even brighter. A new solar generating plant – Stanford’s second – announced today, will enable the university to use 100 percent renewable electricity in three years, more than two decades ahead of California’s goal of a carbon-free grid by 2045. Completing the university’s transition to clean power, Stanford finalized an agreement to collaborate with Recurrent Energy on an 88-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant to be constructed in central California, near Lemoore. The plant is scheduled to go online in late 2021.

Yale Releases Report on Yale Scholarship and the Sustainable Development Goals l Yale Sustainability

  • According to a report by the Yale Office of Sustainability, 44% of the teaching and research at Yale relates to at least two Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, Yale University released its Yale Sustainability Plan 2025, which calls for sustainability to be seamlessly integrated into the scholarship and operations of the university and contribute to the University’s social, environmental, and financial excellence. 

Ray C. Anderson Foundation Grant Supports Statewide Climate Consortium l Emory

  • The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has awarded a $650,000 grant to Emory University to advance the Georgia Climate Project, a state-wide consortium co-founded by Emory, the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and joined by Agnes Scott College, Georgia Southern University, Spelman College, and the University of North Georgia. 
 
Climate Risk, Science, and Regulation

‘We are in Trouble.’ Global Carbon Emissions Reached a Record High in 2018 l The Washington Post

  • Global emissions of carbon dioxide are reaching the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are doing. Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes appear to have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Fossil Free American University Escalates Efforts to Convince University to Divest From Fossil Fuel Industry l The Eagle

  • Fossil Free AU, a student group dedicated to persuading university leaders to divest American University’s financial stake in fossil fuels, has increased its efforts to pressure the University through protests and the launch of a “responsible endowment fund.” The fund would be a “tool to compel the University to divest” the money it currently has in fossil fuel industry stock. AU has approximately $19 million of its $650 million endowment invested in fossil fuels through commingled funds in the S&P 500’s energy portfolio, said Doug Kudravetz, AU’s chief financial officer.

Fossil-Fuel Divestment Petition Garners More Than 150 Signatures l The Harvard Crimson

  • An online petition calling on Harvard to divest its holdings in the fossil fuel industry had garnered 150 signatures as of this week. The petition, which was formed last week and circulated around House lists, includes a letter to University President Lawrence S. Bacow from the Harvard Undergraduates for Environmental Justice that asks him to “bring a new voice and vision to Harvard’s role in climate reform.” The letter calls on Bacow to see Harvard not only as an “institution of higher education but also a financial institution with considerable social influence.”

Insurers in UK and US Lagging Behind in Divesting From Coal, Report Finds l The Guardian

  • UK and US insurers are lagging far behind European firms when it comes to divesting from coal-heavy businesses and refusing to insure them, campaigners have warned. At least 19 major insurers holding more than $6tn in assets – a fifth of the industry’s global assets – have now divested from coal, according to a report from the Unfriend Coal campaign, which represents a coalition of a dozen environmental groups including Greenpeace, 350.org and the Sierra Club. This is up from $4tn – equivalent to 13% of global assets – that were covered by coal exclusion policies a year ago. The study rates 24 of the world’s biggest insurers on their efforts to distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry.

Catholic Divestment Movement Continues to Gain Momentum l The Observer

  • This September, Seattle University, a fellow Catholic institution, committed to divesting its endowment from fossil fuels. This means that the university will no longer invest endowment funds in fossil fuel companies or companies holding fossil fuel reserves. The divestment will take place over several years and be done in a way that is sustainable and responsible both to the environment and the economy, completing half of the divestment by 2020 and achieving full divestment by 2023. Seattle University’s President stated that the university was responding to “the moral imperative for action” and Pope Francis’s call in Laudato Si to act on the urgent problem of climate change, be good stewards of the earth and protect the most vulnerable. With this step, Seattle University joins the growing number of Catholic universities and institutions who have taken this bold step to stand up for our shared home. 
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Midwest Sustainable Investing Forum l Principles for Responsible Investment, December 10th, 2018

Webinar: Pioneers in Responsible and Impact Investing l Real Impact Tracker, December 12th, 2018, 10:00 a.m. ET

Webinar: Financing Energy Projects in Higher Education l Better Buildings Challenge, December 12th, 2018, 3:00 p.m. ET

2019 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 27-29, 2019, Fort Lauderdale, FL

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ

2019 Endowment and Debt Management Forum l NACUBO, February 13-15, 2019, New York, NY

Fundamentals of the Opportunity Finance Industry/Certificate in Community Development Finance Course l  Center for Impact Finance at the University of New Hampshire & Opportunity Finance Network, April 10-12, 2019, Durham, NC

 

 

 

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