Weekly News Round-Up: December 9th, 2016

New Resources
 
  • Seriously addressing climate change requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 in the U.S. and across all major economies. This report concludes that this goal is technically and economically achievable using commercial or near-commercial technology. According to the report, the transition to a cleaner energy economy rests on three pillars: moving from fossil fuels to electricity wherever possible, generating electricity with low or zero carbon emissions, and using energy much more efficiently. 
  • This report looks at almost 300 pieces of regulation covering pension fund rules, stewardship codes and corporate disclosure rules. It also includes interviews with policymakers, investors and stock exchanges in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas to find out if these initiatives change the way investors think about ESG, and ultimately the signals they send to their investee companies.

Human Rights Challenges for Business in 2017 l Ethical Corporation

  • This 13-page briefing explores the biggest challenges for businesses in 2017 and outlines how companies need to go beyond compliance and ´ticking the boxes´ to delivering positive societal impacts.

Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: Investing in Clean Energy for Campuses and Endowments l Intentional Endowments Network, December 13, 2016, 1:30 - 2:30 EST
  • This webinar will provide an overview of the Intentional Endowments Network's (IEN) new report titled “Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments” which 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.
Columbia University Energy Symposium: Disruptive Innovation: The New Status Quo? l Columbia University, February 2-3, 2017, New York City
  • Columbia University’s SIPA Energy Association (SEA), CBS Energy Club, the Engineering Energy Club, and the Environmental Law Society are pleased to introduce you to the 12th Annual Columbia University Energy Symposium. The Columbia Energy Symposium brings together more than 300 energy professionals, students, faculty, leaders, and executives representing industry, government, and society, to explore and advance our insights into today’s challenging energy questions. 
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 that impact investing has grown by 18 percent a year since 2013; according to a global ranking, Oracle Corp. is the most carbon-efficient company in the world; former U.K. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne says Donald Trump can't put the low-carbon "genie back in the bottle"; and investors who screen out or divest stocks for ethical reasons probably saw just a minuscule negative impact on performance over the past five years, according to new research from Hermes Investment Management Ltd.
JUST Capital and Forbes Release Inaugural “JUST 100 List,” Ranking Companies Performing Best on American Public’s Priorities l Forbes
  • JUST Capital and Forbes recently released the inaugural “JUST 100 List,” which ranks the publicly traded companies in America that perform best on the priorities of the American public. The rankings are based on one of the largest surveys ever conducted on attitudes towards corporate behavior, involving 50,000 Americans over the last 18 months. This year’s list ranks U.S companies against their peers within 32 major industries. In future years, Forbes and JUST Capital will rank companies across industries.
‘Trump Trade’ Threat to US Responsible Investment l Financial Times
  • In what market analysts describe as the “Trump trade”, fund managers have increased their exposure to pharmaceutical companies, banks and coal companies in the US following the election. These sectors are less likely to be selected in ESG portfolios.
A Monopoly Donald Trump Can Pop (Opinion) l The New York Times
  • This Op-Ed explores how institutional investors (including mutual fund companies, insurance companies, pension funds or asset management firms) that buy stock in substantial quantities for the benefit of clients and customers pose a huge challenge to market competition, and what President-elect Trump can do about it.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Goldman, Citigroup Targeted by Diversity Activists in 2017 l Bloomberg
  • Arjuna Capital, Trillium Asset Management and Pax World Management are targeting big U.S. financial institutions including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. in 2017, demanding they disclose compensation data for men and women, and publish statistics about the race and gender of their employees. Though the investors are relatively small, each managing a few billion dollars, they have succeeded in pushing technology goliaths such as Apple Inc. and Intel Corp. to divulge information about pay gaps.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
Cashing in on Climate Change (Opinion) l The New York Times
  • This opinion piece outlines different approaches a climate-aware investor can take to protect investments from the effects of climate change.
  • This article explores how global lenders, sometimes flouting their own policies, have financed projects in Indonesia and elsewhere that destroy ecosystems and contribute to climate change.
  • Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) recently announced the launch of their Trillion-Dollar Transformation initiative.  As part of the program, two new research reports outline legal, governance and risk assessment frameworks US pension trustees can use to manage climate change risks.
Protesters Gain Victory in Fight Over Dakota Access Oil Pipeline l The New York Times
  • The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a major victory on Sunday in its battle to block an oil pipeline being built near its reservation when the Department of the Army announced that it would not allow the pipeline to be drilled under a dammed section of the Missouri River. The Army said it would look for alternative routes for the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline.
 
 
Green Bonds
Australia's Monash University first in the world to issue a Certified Climate Bond l Investorideas.com
  • Monash University in Australia is the first university in the world to issue a green bond. The A$ 218 million (USD 163m) Climate Bond was certified under the Climate Bonds Standard by the Climate Bonds Standards Advisory Board and will contribute to the University's net zero emissions target. The University structured the bond to provide the market with investment options in USD and Australian dollars over 15 years, 17.5 years and 20 years. Institutional investors in the bond were both Australian and international.
 
 
Clean Energy
 
Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017 l The New York Times
  • Last year, Google consumed as much energy as the city of San Francisco. Next year, it said, all of that energy will come from wind farms and solar panels. The online giant said this week that all of its data centers around the world will be entirely powered with renewable energy sources sometime next year.
General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News
 
Rich Colleges’ Endowments Targeted by Trump Backer in U.S. House l Bloomberg
  • Wealthy U.S. colleges must spend more of their endowment gains on aid for middle-class families or lose their prized tax-exempt status, a Republican U.S. House member and a vice chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team proposed Monday.
  • The University of Chicago is pulling $25 million from its endowment to back business ideas from faculty, students and alumni. The university on Fridayannounced it will tap into its $7.1 billion endowment to provide funding for startup companies founded or that include people from the university or ideas developed on the Hyde Park campus. “By co-investing in new companies that have independent investments by established firms, we will enhance university-wide support for startups while encouraging venture partners to explore investment opportunities coming out of the university.” President Robert  Zimmer said in the announcement. 
An Insider’s Perspective on the Yale Endowment l Chief Investment Officer
  • This article features the thoughts of former Yale investment committee chair Charles Ellis on David Swensen, crowding, and whether or not the Yale Model is broken.
Michigan State University CIO Trades Losing Hedge Funds for Quants l Bloomberg
  • At Michigan State University, it’s out with the old hedge funds and in with the quants. After posting a 4.3 percent loss in its last fiscal year, the university’s endowment is pulling $100 million from four hedge funds and moving the money into computer-driven funds to diversify the portfolio. Michigan State is switching strategies for part of the allocation, including its first deployment in quantitative funds, rather than abandoning hedge funds.
Middlebury College Reaches 2016 Carbon Neutrality Goal l Middlebury Newsroom
  • Middlebury announced today that it has reached carbon neutrality—a major sustainability milestone many years in the making. In doing so, Middlebury attains a net zero carbon footprint, meaning that the institution has balanced the amount of carbon emissions it releases with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset.
Harvard University Hits Emissions Target l Harvard Magazine
  • Harvard reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent during the past decade, the Office for Sustainability announced this week. The University’s reduction goal, adopted in 2008 and measured from a 2006 baseline, was met despite 15 percent growth in square footage (the addition of 3 million square feet) and an increase in the energy intensity of existing space. 
  • A month after their last demonstration, more than 20 students involved with Fossil Free Notre Dame presented a petition with 1,183 signatures to University President Fr. John Jenkins’ office last week. 
Once an Oil Executive, Now a Crusader Against Fossil Fuel Stocks l The New York Times
  • The trustees of Cooperstown, N.Y., hardly expected their village (population 1,834) to emerge as a flash point in a national debate over climate change and socially responsible investing. But when they voted in October to divest the pension fund they oversee of all fossil fuel holdings, Cooperstown became the first community in the nation to do so — not just coal (like Stanford University), but also oil and gas.
As Access Pipeline Halts, Yalies Call for Divestment l Yale Daily News
  • Over 100 students and Yale affiliates rallied in support of fossil fuel divestment outside Sterling Memorial Library last week. The action was organized by Fossil Free Yale (FFY) in response to the November election of Donald Trump, which has sparked widespread fears among climate activists about the future of U.S. environmental policy. FFY argued Sunday that the U.S. government can no longer be relied upon to ensure a livable planet and called on Yale to take action to reduce climate change by divesting from fossil fuels.
Simon Fraser University Says: Responsible Investment Pays Dividends for Environment l SFU Office of the President
  • Simon Fraser University (SFU) is taking action to counter climate change through their investment practices as they promote sustainability in their operations. Last month, the SFU Board of Governors committed to decrease the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio by at least 30 per cent by 2030. This target is in line with Canada’s climate commitment, and enables SFU to actively encourage companies to pursue lower carbon solutions, while also reducing our investment risk.
Barnard College Fossil Fuel Divestment Task Force Recommends Divestment From Climate Change Denying Companies, Coal and Tar Sands l The Columbia Spectator
  • Barnard’s Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment formally recommended this week that the board of trustees fully divest the college’s endowment from coal and tar sand companies. The recommendation also encourages the trustees to divest Barnard’s holdings in companies that actively deny climate change.
Scientists and Laureates Urge Nobel Prize to Divest from Fossil Fuels l Common Dreams
  • Nobel prize winners and scientists urge the Nobel Foundation to divest its $420 million endowment from fossil fuels in a letter released today, ahead of the Nobel Prize 2016 ceremonies this Saturday. They argue that the institution ‘should not profit from the destruction of our planet’s climate’.