Weekly News Round-Up: February 9th, 2018

Weekly News Round-Up: February 9th, 2018

Our Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit hosted in partnership with Second Nature earlier this week in Tempe was a great success. We had an engaging and action-oriented meeting with over 275 senior administrators from colleges and universities and leaders from government, business, finance, and civil society. Thank those of you that could make it -- videos and materials from the sessions will be up on our website soon!

Below please find this week's news round-up.

Have a great weekend,


Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

New IEN Members
Sustainable Investing at Endowments

The University of Edinburgh Announces Full Divestment From Fossil Fuels l The Student Newspaper

  • The University of Edinburgh announced today that it will complete the move of its investment portfolio out of fossil fuels over the next three years. This follows on from a similar decision in May 2015, where the University committed to moving out of investment in the heaviest polluting fossil fuel companies. The University of Edinburgh has a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040.
Climate Change Action on College and University Campuses

Harvard's Climate Change Efforts l Harvard University

  • In this letter from Harvard President Drew Faust, he discusses Harvard's action on climate, progress so far, and goals for the future. According to the letter, Harvard will seek to become fossil fuel free by 2050 by meeting energy needs with sustainable sources and by setting targets for purchasing externally provided services that rely as little as possible on fossil fuels. As The University works toward this target, it will strive to become fossil fuel neutral by 2026, continuing to pursue aggressive reductions in fossil fuel emissions and, where feasible, to invest in high-quality, off-campus projects that displace comparable amounts of emissions for any emissions that remain. 

World-Class Research Universities Announce University Climate Change Coalition l Environment America

  • This week, at the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit hosted by Second Nature and The Intentional Endowments Network, a coalition of 13 world-class North American research universities launched the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). The coalition is committed to using collaboration, research, and their collective resources to help communities accelerate action on climate change. The UC3 members include research universities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Making a Big Impact, Small Footprint at Duke l Duke Today

  • This week, Duke University and Delta Airlines announced the purchase of 5,000 carbon credits. With help from Greensboro-based Urban Offsets, the program also backs efforts to create a more equitable distribution of urban forests in Durham with tree plantings that will further remove carbon emissions as they grow.

The University of Maryland Secures $18.3 Million for Energy Conservation Projects l UMD Right Now

  • The University of Maryland has successfully secured $18.3 million from the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) for the development of a $21.5 million energy efficiency project to support the implementation of various energy conservation measures. The project will impact eight on-campus buildings, such as J.M. Patterson Hall and  Hornbake Library.

100% Renewable Campuses Campaign l Environment America

  • By shifting to 100% renewable energy, colleges and universities can play a crucial leadership role in moving our communities and our country to a healthier, cleaner future. This week, Environment America launched their Campus 100% Renewable Energy website -- furthering their work to join forces with motivated and active students. 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how BlackRock said it now expects its companies to have at least two women directors on their boards; Protein companies have to grow and become more sustainable at the same time, says Tyson Foods Chief Sustainability Officer Justin Whitmore; and China's wind energy market is set for a rebound.

Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies l Barron's

  • For Barron's first ranking of the most sustainable companies in the US, Calvert ranked companies by taking the 1,000 largest publicly held companies by market value with headquarters in the U.S. (excluding REITs and master LPs), and looked at 300 performance indicators for each company from data providers in five categories: shareholders, employees, customers, planet, and community.

Investors Turn To Science And Big Data To Make More Sustainable Investments l Forbes

  • A new framework has been developed to identify investments that will promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The research teams from the City University of New York (CUNY) and Harvard, in conjunction with UBS Asset Management, are seeking to take a more scientific approach than just accepting “the self-disclosure of beneficial actions that are claimed typically by companies themselves.” Instead, they will test their framework by analyzing the environmental and health benefits of a $2.1 billion portfolio of public equities managed by UBS Asset Management on behalf of the giant Dutch pension fund PGGM.

PGGM’s Scientific Approach to ESG May Sway Skeptics l Institutional Investor

  • Scientists at the City University of New York and Harvard University are using Dutch pension fund PGGM as a guinea pig to test metrics they've designed for sustainable investing. Their study of a $2.1 billion PGGM portfolio managed by UBS Group's asset management unit will help investors make informed decisions when allocating capital based on ESG principles, according to a paper in a Science journal this month.

As ESG Goes Mainstream, Methane Disclosure Divide Looms Large on Investor Agenda l Environmental Defense Fund

  • According to a new EDF report, over 40% of oil and gas companies analyzed fail to report even basic information on methane management. The report also finds a link between investor engagement on methane and a company’s subsequent reporting, and suggests that the companies failing to provide any methane information should expect increasing pressure and engagement from investors as demand for material ESG information continues to rise.

Amit Bouri of the GIIN on Impact Investing’s Growing Appeal l Middle Market Growth

  • In this article, the co-founder and CEO of the Global Impact Investing Network discusses the increasing interest among investors, including private equity firms, in achieving positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return in sectors as wide-ranging as sustainable agriculture, community investing, affordable housing, renewable energy, education, health care and more.
New Resources & Reports

Aggregating Higher Education Demand for Renewables: A Primer l AASHE

  • This primer highlights the benefits of this aggregated approach by examining several completed group purchases as well as some in progress, such as a 100 MW effort in Buffalo, New York. It also describes best practices for pursuing group renewable energy aggregations structured as power purchase agreements (PPAs).

The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance l SSRN

  • This paper investigates the effect of a corporate culture of sustainability on multiple facets of corporate behavior and performance outcomes. Using a matched sample of 180 companies, it finds that corporations that voluntarily adopted environmental and social policies many years ago are more likely to have organized procedures for stakeholder engagement, to be more long-term oriented, and to exhibit more measurement and disclosure of nonfinancial information.

Quality Score l ISS

  • The Environmental & Social QualityScore Disclosure and Transparency Signal is a data-driven scoring and screening solution backed by The SDGs, GRI, SASB, and TCFD data  — designed to measure and identify areas of Environmental and Social risk through company disclosure.  Scores provide an indication of relative quality compared to industry peers and are supported by factor-level data that is critical to the research process. 
Green Bonds

Green Bonds: Can Record Issuances Have a 'Halo Effect' on Financial Markets? l Business Green

  • Projections expect global green bond issuances to reach an unprecedented $200bn-250bn this year, and new analysis suggests their impact could influence wider investment decisions.
Investment Manager News

APG Group Lifts Out Sustainable Investing Data Analytics Team From Deloitte Nederland l Pensions & Investments

  • Dutch pensions firm APG Group has enhanced its data analytics for sustainable investing through a team lift out. The firm has taken over a business unit for data analytics activities for sustainable investing from Deloitte Nederland. The unit specializing in artificial intelligence, big data and sustainable investing. The team comprises 13 employees.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

Exxon Studies Climate Policies and Sees ‘Little Risk’ to Bottom Line l The New York Times

  • Last year, Exxon Mobil’s shareholders demanded that the company give a more detailed accounting of the consequences of global policies aimed at curbing carbon emissions. According to the companies recently released report, Exxon’s vast fossil fuel reserves “face little risk” of being left in the ground. While some of its undeveloped oil resources “may not be attractive investments” in a 2-degree policy scenario, those represent less than 5% of the company’s property by value. Under that scenario, Exxon sees the world’s oil consumption dropping only slowly in the next two decades or so, and sees demand for natural gas rising slightly.

'Structural Decline': Is it Time For Oil Giants to Shake Up Their Investment Plans? l Business Green

  • The tail end of 2017 was a good few months for oil giants, with majors from Total to BP and Statoil all posting a jump in profits on the back of higher crude prices and a strengthening global economy. Typically oil companies have used boom years to invest in new capital-intensive exploration and extraction projects. But when considering a market aiming to curb climate change and reduce carbon emissions, some argue it is for companies to transition over to clean energy sources - to use their financial capital and technical expertise to reinvent themselves as giants of green energy. This article explores this topic.
General Endowment News

Giving to Colleges Rises by 6.3% l Inside Higher Ed

  • Colleges and universities raised a total of $43.6 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, according to results from the latest version of the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey from the Council for Aid to Education, which is being released today. The fund-raising total is up 6.3 percent from 2016 -- 3.7 percent after adjusting for inflation.

Could Senate Higher Ed Rewrite Expand Data Collection? l Politico

  • Advocates are hoping a decade-old federal ban on tracking certain information about college students could get rolled back as senators rewrite the federal higher education law. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the education committee’s chairman, has resisted efforts to broaden data collected about students, but advocates say there are too many lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, pushing the change for Alexander not to consider it.
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Students Criticize Yale University Investments at Teach-In l Yale Daily News

  • A room at Yale University was filled to the brim Saturday afternoon, as students took the stage one-by-one to criticize Yale’s investments in areas ranging from the fossil fuel industry to the debts of distressed government. The teach-in, titled “Inside Yale’s $27,000,000,000,” featured representatives from a coalition of student organizations, including Fossil Free Yale, Yale Students for Prison Divestment, Yale Young Democratic Socialists and the Association of Native Americans at Yale.

World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Should ‘Immediately’ Cut Oil, Ex-Staffer Says l Bloomberg

  • Norway’s $1.1 trillion wealth fund shocked the world last year when it announced a plan to divest all its oil and gas stocks, worth $35 billion at the time. As the government and parliament prepare to give their responses, a former senior economic adviser who used to work for the fund says the investing giant shouldn’t waste any time and start selling now.
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Webinar: Investing for Racial Justice l Racial Justice Investing Group, February 12th, 2018, 2:00 p.m. ET

  • This webinar will be a briefing on Investing for Racial Justice. Attendees will hear important research, new initiatives, and ideas for the way forward. Presenters will cover topics including prison labor and supply chain risk, race and gender inclusion at public companies, addressing racial justice across asset classes, and immigration and digital surveillance issues.

ICCR's 2018 Proxy Season Overview l ICCR, February 13th, 11:30 a.m. ET

  • This webinar will help contextualize the more than 260 resolutions that have so far been filed by ICCR members this year, with a deeper discussion of key campaigns led by the ICCR members spearheading these initiatives.

Webinar: Banking on a Low Carbon Future l Boston Common Asset Management and ShareAction, February 15th, 2018, 10:00 a.m. ET

  • The webinar will cover notable practices across the globe, highlight key gaps in current bank performance, and suggest specific areas for investor engagement. Panelists will discuss possible next steps including the launch of an investor collaborative engagement using the report findings in 2018, and follow up to ShareAction's 2017 European bank report and plans for the 2018 AGM season.

Clean200: 2018 Q1 Webinar l Clean200, February 15th, 2018, 10:00 a.m. ET

  • This webinar will present Clean200's model looking at how global large-cap companies making significant revenue from clean energy have performed. 

The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel? l As You Sow, February 22, 2018, 11:00 am EST

  • The 100 Most Overpaid CEO highlights the fund managers who continue to approve these pay packages at staggering rates (many funds approve nearly 100% of the pay packages they vote on) and contrasts them with those who take a stance against excessive pay with their votes.

Proxy Preview 2018: Helping Shareholders Vote Their Values l Proxy Preview, March 8th, 2018, 2:00 pm EST

  • Proxy Preview 2018, now in its 14th year, provides an overview of all ESG shareholder resolutions filed—as well as expert insights into resolutions filed ESG issues investors are raising at companies this year on and off proxy ballots.

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. Click here to apply to join the event as a non-member guest.
Responsible Investment Forum New York l Private Equity International, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY
  • The Responsible Investment Forum will bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy. IEN's Kristian Nammack will be presenting.