Weekly News Round-Up: April 26, 2019

This week started with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which many colleges and universities used as an opportunity to celebrate their action on climate and environmental sustainability. New IEN member Colgate University and the University of San Francisco both announced they had met carbon-neutrality goals ahead of schedule.

IEN's Spring Newsletter also featured the story of Middlebury College's Energy2028 plan, which addresses sustainability holistically, including the role of the endowment, and an exclusive Q&A article on making an ESG impact through public fixed-income strategies.

IEN in the News

IEN Spring 2019 Newsletter | Intentional Endowments Network

  • This issue of the IEN newsletter features a school spotlight on Middlebury College’s Energy2028 plan, which integrates endowment investment strategies with other campus actions on climate, a new feature article on making an ESG impact through public fixed-income strategies, and updates from across the network.

Developing Community Feedback Tools to Help Investors Manage Positive – and Negative – Impact | ImpactAlpha

  • This piece makes the case for creating accountability mechanisms built on community feedback to measure investments’ impacts, and points to the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, perhaps with the participation of its partners in other networks like the Global Impact Investing Network, Mission Investors Exchange and the Intentional Endowments Network, as potentially being a highly efficient place from which to provide such an accountability service.
 
 
Opportunities for Action

2019 Proxy Memos and Exempt Solicitations | Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

  • The 2019 corporate annual general meeting season has begun, and that means it's time to vote your proxy ballots. So why is this important? Votes in favor of shareholder resolutions in the double digits are very successful in focusing management and investor attention on issues. Several hundred shareholder resolutions will be coming up for a vote by stockholders this year. This page contains a list of relevant proxy exempt solicitations and proxy memos, with the arguments for why you should vote in favor.

Investor Statement of Access to Medicine Index | Access to Medicine Foundation

  • Sign on deadline: Ongoing. 

GIIN Survey: Understanding Faith-Based Investing | Global Impact Investing Network

  • Deadline: TODAY, April 26, 2019
  • This scholarship was started and is coordinated by a group of First Affirmative Financial Network emeriti and longtime affiliates to bring young people to The SRI Conference. Applications will be accepted from April 1st through July 8th, 2019. Winners will be announced in late September. For questions or additional information on this program, please contact SRIscholarship15@gmail.com, and to apply, follow the link above.

Investor Statement Regarding the Need for Corporate Gender Equity Transparency | As You Sow

  • Deadline: May 3, 2019

ExxonMobil Investor Proposal on Lobbying | United Steelworkers International Union

  • Shareholder Meeting: May 29, 2019
 
New Resources & Reports

Thinking Outside the Box: How and Why to Invest in a Climate Change Strategy | GMO

  • In this white paper, Jeremy Grantham and Lucas White of GMO argue that a well-designed climate change strategy can provide investors with a variety of benefits, including diversification, protection from climate risk, inflation protection, and the ability to invest in growth-oriented companies at a discount.

Three Sectors, Three Years Later: Progress and Gaps in the Fight Against Forced Labor | KnowTheChain

  • This report presents findings from KnowTheChain’s benchmarks on the progress in corporate efforts to address forced labor in high-risk sectors and the most severe gaps in action that persist even among companies with more advanced supply chain labor practices, as well as recommendations for companies in any sector and at any stage of developing their policies and processes for addressing forced labor.

Building Resiliency through Green Infrastructure: A Community Wealth Building Approach | Democracy Collaborative

  • This report investigates the state of worker cooperatives and social enterprises in the green stormwater infrastructure field in order to understand the possibilities and strategies for these enterprises to provide positive jobs in their communities. It provides practical insights to practitioners as well as local governments and anchor institutions to deepen and expand community wealth building enterprises.
 
 
Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Amid Calls for Further Action, Board of Governors Votes to Double Contribution to University of British Columbia’s Sustainable Endowment Fund | The Ubyssey

  • The UBC Board of Governors has voted to double the university’s stake in the only portion of its endowment that is divested from fossil fuels. On April 18, the UBC Board voted to approve an additional $25 million contribution to the main fund in the Sustainable Futures Pool (SFP) over the next three years, bringing the total contributed to the pool to $50 million by 2022. The pool, established in 2017 with less than 1% of the total portfolio, is performing at a higher rate than the endowment as a whole.

Denver Completes Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies | Westword

  • A month after Mayor Michael Hancock announced that the City and County of Denver planned to dump its investments in fossil fuel companies, the divestment process is finished. As of earlier this year, its various portfolios had included about $50 million in corporate bonds issued by fossil fuel giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron, though in previous years that figure had been higher.

Eight Local Churches and URC Synod of Yorkshire Join Easter Declaration for Fossil Free Churches | Independent Catholic News

  • Eight churches and the United Reformed Church Synod of Yorkshire have made divestment commitments as part of the Easter Declaration for Fossil Free Churches. These churches join a global divestment movement of more than 1,000 institutions with $8.7 trillion of assets under management, including the World Council of Churches, the Church of Sweden, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the Church of Ireland.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bigger than the Environment: New ESG Study Finds Other Social Issues have Equal or More Importance to Investors | BusinessWire

  • An ESG investor sentiment study from Allianz Life finds significant focus on companies’ track record across many social and governance topics. Key findings include: 73% of Americans consider social issues when making a decision to invest in a company, 71% would stop investing in a company if it behaved in ways they consider unethical, and 84% believe companies that focus on being a good corporate citizen have better long-term prospects than those that don’t.

Sustainable Investing Myths Debunked | Morningstar

  • Relying on stereotypes that millennials and women are most interest in ESG investing may ignore a large, untapped market for sustainable strategies among retail investors. It’s time to update the narrative that ESG is not mainstream – Morningstar research finds that most investors, across ages and genders, have clear preferences for ESG investment products.

Asset Managers Answer the Growing Call for ESG Investments | ThinkAdvisor

  • This piece looks at the growing popularity of ESG investing and look at some of the top performing ESG managers in this space.

How Much More Are You Willing to Pay for Fuel to Save the Planet? | Irish Times

  • Bank of England governor Mark Carney forged an unlikely – and no doubt unwitting – alliance with London’s climate change protesters this week: a warning to banks and financial markets that behaviour has to change. Carney, along with his counterpart from France’s central bank, told investors that capital has to be massively reallocated in the face of potential catastrophe from global warming. These warnings coincided with parts of London being shut down by people as far removed from central banking as it is possible to imagine. But these protesters delivered a similar message to Carney’s, albeit one with a very different practical import.

New S&P 500 ESG Index Threatens Valuations Of Ineligible Utilities | Seeking Alpha

  • S&P Dow Jones Indices has announced a new index focusing on ESG values for S&P 500 companies, and so far nine utility stocks in the S&P 500 Index have been deemed ineligible for inclusion in the new S&P 500 ESG Index. Long-term utility investors need to consider whether they should include ESG-ineligible stocks in their portfolios.

Largest 10 Socially Responsible Fixed Income ETFs | ETF Trends

  • This article provides a snapshot of the largest Fixed Income Socially Responsible ETFs.

Global Environmental Opportunities: Transforming Sustainable Investment | IFA Magazine

  • In this piece, Pictet Asset Management makes the case that thanks to the emergence of a thriving environmental products industry, investing to safeguard the planet no longer means sacrificing returns.
 
Shareholder Engagement

Share-yngitis: Has Your Non-Profit Lost Its Shareholder Voice? | Rights Colab

  • This article outlines how IEN member Sierra Club Foundation has built both a fossil fuel-free portfolio and an active shareholder engagement strategy. A key takeaway: these do not need to be all-or-nothing strategies: “If you can’t get agreement on a major divestment, fine. You can still use your financial assets for positive impact. If you have divested but are concerned that you have lost the capability for further impact, don’t worry. Simple steps, like those taken by SCF, can restore that capability.”

CalPERS Puts ‘Laser-Like Focus’ on ESG, Board Diversity, and Executive Pay | Chief Investment Officer

  • This summary of CalPERS’ March 18 investment committee meetings describes three areas - addressing climate change, corporate board diversity, and compensation of top executives - that the pension fund is focusing on this proxy season. As part of the Climate Action 100+ coalition, CalPERS has helped push oil and gas companies like BP, Shell, Xcel, Glencore, and A.P. Maersk to publicly commit to reducing carbon emissions.
 
Gender Lens Investing

Women and Investing | GreenMoney Journal

 
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Despite Demand for More Diversity and Refreshment, Half of Russell 3000 Companies Report No Change in Board Composition | The Conference Board

  • According to a comprehensive review of SEC filings, 50 percent of Russell 3000 companies and 43 percent of S&P 500 companies disclosed no change in the composition of their board of directors, and only one-quarter elected a first-time director (never served on a public company board). These findings provide important context to the slow progress on board diversity: average director tenure continues to be quite extensive (at 10 years or longer), board seats rarely become vacant and, when a spot is available, it is often taken by a seasoned director rather than a newcomer with no prior board experience.

Diversity and Inclusion: Turning Shared Value into Shared Success | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • A look at how Prudential is using an integrated impact investing approach to support diversity and economic inclusion, including: Committing to inclusive venture capital, supporting emerging managers, placing assets with minority and veteran-owned depository institutions and money managers, and developing new, inclusive products.
 
 
Green Bonds

Bonds to Save the Planet | Bloomberg

  • Green bonds have something of a built-in customer base of socially conscious investors including pensions and nonprofits, who tend to snap them up—most new green bond issues are oversubscribed—and hold them until they come due. This has put the market in a somewhat awkward spot: The bonds are clearly popular, but since they don’t trade much, it’s hard to get a precise view of their market value at any given moment. That could be keeping companies from issuing more of them.

Green Bonds and the Pathway to Sustainability | ETF Trends

  • Although only a piece of the solution, tapping the $100 trillion global debt markets via green bonds will be integral to financing projects to help meet climate and other sustainable development objectives.
 
 
Student Managed Funds

Yale Team Wins Impact Investing Competition for Second Straight Year | Yale School of Management

  • For the second consecutive year, a team of Yale students took the top prize at the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) competition, hosted by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and the Bridges Impact Foundation. The winning team, composed of Vincent Caruso ’20, John Palfreyman ’20, Emma Broderick ’21, Leah Yablonka FES ’19, and Martha Deeds ’20, pitched and won a $50,000 investment in EVmatch, a peer-to-peer electric vehicle charging app.
 
 
Investment Firm News

How Wellington Is Reshaping Its ESG Investing | Barron’s

  • This article describes Wellington Management’s “spatial finance” methodology, based on a partnership with Woods Hole Research Center to study climate change effects. Spatial finance is essentially building a three-dimensional map that layers climate-science data on top of stock fundamentals and macroeconomic indicators.

(Watch) Sustainable Investing and Getting Paid to Wait | CNBC

  • In this interview, Matarin Capital's Nili Gilbert gives her view of the market, and discusses the launch of Matarin's new index that focuses on long-term, sustainable investing.

Fund Managers Consider Tying Pay to Sustainable Investing | Financial News

  • A growing number of asset managers are looking to tie pay to sustainable forms of investing, even though a third are unsure whether their staff adopt such principles when allocating client money. (Subscription required to access)

OCBC is Southeast Asia’s First Bank to Rule Out Funding New Coal Power Plants | Eco-Business

  • Singapore’s OCBC Bank CEO Samuel Tsien declares the bank will stop funding for new coal-fired power plants. Two days later, rival DBS follows suit, ruling out financing a fossil fuel that is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Socially Responsible Retirement Funds

Pentegra, Social(k) and LeafHouse Financial Introduce the Big Green Retirement Plan | GreenMoney Journal

  • The Big Green Retirement Plan is an aggregate 401(k) retirement program with a focus on socially responsible investing. The plan offers comprehensive, bundled 401(k) plan services with full fiduciary outsourcing capabilities for companies who align themselves with the importance of socially responsible investing.
 
Economic & Policy Shifts

(Watch) Science & Society No. 3: Our Climate Crisis | Pioneer Works

  • In this recent panel discussion, experts grapple with the scientific realities of the cultural, governmental, and corporate shifts needed to mitigate our climate crisis. Where does the latest science point us? What are the most promising solutions? Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a director at New Consensus and policy lead for the Green New Deal, and Dr. Kate Marvel, climate research scientist at NASA and Columbia University, join series host Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Pioneer Works science scholar and founder of Ocean Collectiv.  

Washington State Passes Law Requiring 100% Clean Energy by 2045 | Greentech Media

  • Washington state’s Senate on Monday gave the final vote of approval to a law requiring 100 percent clean energy by 2045, joining three other states — New Mexico, California and Hawaii — with similar legislation on the books. A new Puerto Rico law requires 100 percent renewables by 2050.

Action on Global Warming: NYC's Green New Deal | New York City

  • Mayor de Blasio announced New York City's Green New Deal, a bold and audacious plan to attack global warming on all fronts. It is comprised of $14 billion in new and committed investments, legislation and concrete action at the City level that will ensure a nearly 30 percent additional reduction in emissions by 2030. The laws and investments of New York City's Green New Deal will directly confront income inequality, generating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs retrofitting buildings and expanding renewable energy.

Norway Refuses to Drill for Billions of Barrels of Oil in Arctic, Leaving ‘Whole Industry Surprised and Disappointed’ | Independent

  • The largest party in Norway’s parliament has delivered a significant blow to the country’s huge oil industry after withdrawing support for explorative drilling off the Lofoten islands in the Arctic, which are considered a natural wonder. The move, by the opposition Labour party, creates a large parliamentary majority against oil exploration in the sensitive offshore area, illustrating growing opposition to the polluting fossil fuel, which has made the country one of the world’s most affluent. Labour’s opposition exposes a rift in the party as the leadership tries to reflect the population’s rising environmental concerns, while also aiming to support workers’ unions in the oil industry, which have been major backers of the party.

Opinion: Rio Tinto Warning May Rupture Mining Industry into Green and Dirty | Reuters

  • This opinion piece discusses the growing split between “green” miners, who produce the minerals essential for the transition from the age of oil to the age of electricity, and the “dirty” miners who remain trapped in coal and other minerals deemed unnecessary for a carbon constrained future.

Close Coal Plants, Save Money: That's an Indiana Utility's Plan. The Coal Industry Wants to Stop It. | Inside Climate News

  • When Indiana's third-largest utility analyzed the economics of its power plants last year, it decided it was time for a big shift—away from the coal power that had long sustained the business and toward renewable energy. This article outlines the Northern Indiana Public Service Co.’s new plans, and the campaign by coal stakeholders to block it.

The Dark-Money Lobbying Group Going After Pension Funds | Institutional Investor

  • The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity claims it wants to keep politics out of pension funds. But in practice the organization primarily attacks divestment initiatives and ESG programs. IPFI has released several white papers covered by Reuters, Barron’s, Institutional Investor, and other mainstream publications. It has submitted reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission roundtable and targeted specific U.S. public funds, including New Jersey’s and Washington State’s.
 
 
Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

(Watch) Ozone Hole: How We Saved the Planet

  • This PBS documentary, which aired earlier in April and is available online through May 9, 2019, tells the forgotten story of the hole in the ozone layer - and how the world came together to fix it. The scientists and politicians who persuaded Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to take action reveal how the planetary problem was solved.

The Global Carbon Story in Transportation | MSCI

  • This in-depth, graphical look at global carbon emissions in the transportation sector asks: How sustainable is our ever-growing need for transportation? Despite a push for cleaner technology, transportation remains a key contributor to the rise of greenhouse gases.

The World's Largest Investor Says a $3.8 Trillion Market Faces Growing Climate-Change Risk | Business Insider

  • BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, is doubling down on its view that investors in the US don't yet fully appreciate the just how disastrous an economic impact climate change could have at a time when environmental, social, and corporate governance investing is garnering mainstream attention.

Avoiding the Storm: Climate Change and the Financial System | Bank of England

  • This speech by Bank of England’s executive director for international banks supervision at the Official Monetary & Financial Institutions Forum in Lond argues that climate change poses significant risks to the economy and to the financial system, and while these risks may seem abstract and far away, they are in fact very real, fast approaching, and in need of action today.

North American Drilling Boom Threatens Big Blow to Climate Efforts, Study Finds | The Guardian

  • More than half of the world’s new oil and gas pipelines are located in North America, with a boom in US oil and gas drilling set to deliver a major blow to efforts to slow climate change, a new report from Global Energy Monitor has found. In the US alone, the natural-gas output enabled by the pipelines would result in an additional 559m tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide each year by 2040, above 2017 levels.

Grantham, Others See Opportunities After First Climate Change Bankruptcy | Financial Advisor

  • After PG&E’s bankruptcy, many leading institutional investors, such as GMO founder Jeremy Grantham, think that many compelling investment opportunities are going to surface in the next two decades thanks to climate change. But there are likely to be lots of losers as well as winners.
 
 
General Higher Education Endowment News

The Biggest Threat to Endowment and Foundation Portfolios | Institutional Investor

  • The biggest threat to endowment and foundation investment portfolios is a slowdown in global growth, according to a survey by consulting firm NEPC. Sixty percent of endowments and foundations probed by NEPC this year said they’re most concerned about an economic slowdown, up from 21 percent in 2018.

Black School Endowments Push for Growth, Diversity | Pensions & Investments

  • As institutions and investment consultants increasingly look for opportunities to pinpoint and work with diverse asset managers, a segment of investors overseeing endowments for historically black colleges and universities also is in the market, either as a matter of formal policy or informally, setting diverse manager searches and hires as a priority for staff. Officials at HBCUs are simultaneously ramping up their capital-raising efforts to grow their endowments, sources said. A subset of HBCUs have incorporated language into their investment policy statements indicating a desire to unearth and hire minority managers. Other institutions may not have formalized this as a written policy but have stated this as an implementation priority.
 
 
General Higher Education Sustainability News

Colgate Achieves Carbon Neutrality | Colgate University

  • Colgate University has fulfilled its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality in 2019, its Bicentennial year. The University is now the first institution of higher education in New York State to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero. Colgate embarked on its pathway to carbon neutrality in 2009, when it signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), now known as the Second Nature Carbon Commitment. During the next decade, Colgate implemented a number of practical measures and innovative projects to reduce gross emissions by 46 percent.

Carbon Zero, Global Hero | University of San Francisco

  • USF has met its goal of zero net carbon emissions 31 years ahead of its 2050 target date. This story details how the university achieved this goal with a series of steps, both large and small.

Temple Revises its Climate Action Plan, Aims to Reach Carbon Neutrality by 2050 | Temple University

  • This post summarizes Temple University’s 2019 Climate Action Plan, which outlines long-term sustainability goals and the school’s move toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Since 2016, Temple has worked with 300 partners—including students, faculty and staff at the university, government officials, climate-change experts, and other external leaders—to ensure diversity of the voices contributing to the university’s revised Climate Action Plan.

Princeton University Sustainability Plan Aims for Net Zero Emissions by 2046 | Princeton University

  • Princeton University’s new Sustainability Action Plan sets bold targets to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and outlines innovative strategies to engage all faculty, staff and students in creating a sustainable campus and future. Princeton will aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2046, which is the University’s 300th anniversary.

Vanderbilt Announces Plan to Reduce Environmental Impact | WRAL

  • Vanderbilt University says it wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and even go beyond that to produce more renewable energy than it consumes. The plan features investing in on-site clean energy and off-site large-scale renewable energy, increasing campus green spaces, reducing energy consumption and waste, decreasing its carbon footprint from transportation and commuting, and investing in sustainable infrastructure.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

McGill Profs Resign from Board of Governors over Investment in Fossil Fuels | National Observer

  • Two professors write that they have resigned from McGill University’s Board of Governors ahead of a likely vote to reject calls for fossil fuel divestment. They argue that continuing to reject divestment would violate McGill’s policy on socially responsible investment, and violate the principles of collegial governance upon which the university is founded.

Divestment Protesters to Appear Before Executive Committee | Yale Daily News

  • Nearly 50 student protesters received notice from the Yale College Executive Committee — the body that adjudicates disciplinary infractions — stating that the committee has opened formal investigations into their conduct for “Trespassing” during sit-ins at the Investments Office, according to five students with knowledge of the situation.

The Spring of Our Discontent | Harvard Crimson

  • This op-ed discusses recent protests on campus calling for divestment from fossil fuels and private prisons, a debate over the arbitration process for harassment and discrimination claims, and other issues, calling on the university to offer a formalized channel through which students can engage in real, meaningful policy debate with the administration. The student author asks that the administration engage in rigorous reason-giving and debate in the spirit of an educational institution to defend its choices, or else accept the recommendations of student activists.

Divest Harvard Makes Case for Dropping Fossil Fuels | Harvard Magazine

  • A group of faculty, alumni, and the student group Divest Harvard urged the University to divest its endowment from fossil fuels at a press conference kicking off “Heat Week”—a series of events intended to draw attention to climate change and intensify the public pressure for Harvard to divest.
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

Intentionally Designed Endowment Roundtable at Total Impact Philadelphia | May 2, 2019, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET, Philadelphia, PA

Community Impact Investing Roundtable 2019 | Intentional Endowments Network, September 6, 2019, Berkeley, CA

Other Events:

Building Community Wealth with Green Stormwater Infrastructure—Stories from the Field | Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange, The Summit Foundation, and The Democracy Collaborative, Apr 29, 2019 1-2 PM Eastern Time, webinar

Ceres Conference 2019 | Ceres, April 29 - May 1, San Francisco, CA

Impact Investing Day: Building an Ecosystem of Responsible Capital and a Future of Regenerative Economies | Travois and AltCap, May 1, 2019, Kansas City, MO

Total Impact Philadelphia 2019 l Total Impact, May 1-2, 2019, Philadelphia, PA 

American Climate Leadership Summit 2019 | May 1-2, 2019, Washington, DC

2019 Opportunity Zone Expo Las Vegas | Opportunity Zone Expo, May 9-10, 2019, Las Vegas, NV, Interested members should contact Kaede Kawauchi to access a $50 registration discount as an IEN member.

Davos on the Delta l iSelect Fund, May 14-15, 2019, Memphis, TN

9th Annual Conference: New Challenges New Opportunities | US SIF, June 10-12, 2019, Minneapolis, MN

OCIO Solutions Summit | Investment Management Institute, June 12, 2019, Stamford, CT, Interested members should contact Kaede Kawauchi to access the following member discounts:

  • IEN endowment members - Room and board will be covered, $350 registration fee (80% off the original price), Opportunity to speak on a panel
  • IEN asset manager members - $200 off the original price

2nd Annual Advisors Forum | Confluence Philanthropy, June 24-25, 2019, San Francisco, CA, Member pricing available for IEN members.

 

 

 

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