Weekly News Round-Up: April 28th, 2017

Opportunities For Action
 

Protect Shareholders. Strike the Financial Choice Act 2.0. l As You Sow

  • Shareholder democracy is being profoundly threatened by Section 844 of the proposed Financial CHOICE Act 2.0. This new legislation, which could be voted on as early as May 2, would fundamentally impair investors' rights to file shareholder resolutions. The new rule would permit only a tiny fraction of the globe’s wealthiest investors (those who own more than 1% of more of a company’s stock) to file shareholder proposals. Sign this petition to protect shareholder rights.
  • Our Climate, joined by the presidents of Dickinson College, Pitzer College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, are inviting other college and university presidents to sign a letter calling on national and state elected officials to put a price on carbon. 
Higher Education Backs Low Carbon USA l Second Nature
  • Building on a January letter to the new leadership in DC, Second Nature has worked with partners to create a new public site for this letter that demonstrates its alignment with over 1,000 business leaders under the banner of Low Carbon USA. If your institution would like to participate, please submit via the form on the linked website.
  • The annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate mitigation, and resilience at signatory campuses of the Climate Leadership Commitments. 
Upcoming Events
New Resources
 
The Business Case for the Current SEC Shareholder Proposal Process l Ceres, ICCR & US SIF
  • This paper provides an investor perspective on the value to investors and companies of the current shareholder proposal process under SEC Rule 14a-8. It was prepared by Ceres investor program staff with major contributions from numerous investor members of the Ceres, ICCR and US SIF investor networks, who have been active in filing shareholder proposals as part of their corporate engagement and asset stewardship efforts. It is intended as a resource to help inform policy discussions about the content of Rule 14a-8 and the impact of shareholder proposals on corporate issuers, shareholder value and the U.S. economy.
  • For the first time, a majority of global investor heavyweights recognize the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks. But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk. The AODP releases its fifth global index on Wednesday, ranking the world’s largest 500 asset owners and, for the first time, the 50 largest asset managers on their performance managing financial risks associated with climate change.
2017 Green Transition Scoreboard Report | Ethical Markets
  • The 2017 Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) explores the deepening of green finance worldwide. Since 2007, companies tracked by the GTS are those avoiding negative externalities and focused on transition management in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and COP21-22. For 2017, the GTS totals $8,133,456,730,370 in non-government investments and commitments in the green transition. All numbers on these totals are cumulative and global since 2007. The GTS tracks Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Life Systems, Green Construction and Corporate Green R&D, representing broad areas of investment in green technologies. 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how investor pressure is building for Exxon Mobil Corp. to provide more disclosure on how resilient its business is to climate change; Funds worth $27 trillion are considering climate change when making investment decisions; Real estate companies need to go beyond "carbon neutral," according to Hammerson Plc.; U.K. firms are finding huge gender pay gaps.
Norway’s oil fund is a tarnished gold standard for sustainable investment | The Conversation 
  • Beate Sjåfjell, Professor in the Department of Private Law, University of Oslo explores Norway's sovereign wealth fund's leadership in sustainable investing, arguing that screening out investments on ethical grounds is not enough to address the systemic sustainability challenges that threaten society, the economy, and all investments, concluding that, "the point is that this is not a question of placing ethics above economics. It is a simple matter of understanding that economic returns – like everything else in the long run – are dependent on stable living conditions on earth." 
  • Sustainable investing seeks to drive positive social or environmental impact alongside financial results, allowing investors to accomplish more with their money. Investors need not adjust their financial goals to invest with purpose. BlackRock’s sustainable funds are designed to meet the performance characteristics of traditional investments while targeting specific social impact objectives, such as reducing the carbon footprint of an investment portfolio.
Antibiotics: The Next Ethical Investment Battleground l AFR Weekend
  • Weeks after declaring war on tobacco by confirming it would sell $600 million worth of tobacco-related stocks and biological weapon investments, AMP Capital has released a landmark report flagging the regulatory and earnings dangers of businesses using antibiotics in the food chain. The report, "Is Factory Farming Making Us Sick?" by AMP Capital's senior ESG Analyst, global equities and fixed income, Kristen Le Mesurier, once again puts the spotlight on the rising trend to ethical investing.
  • Impact investing is an ‘investment into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.’ This article explores the question: is it for you?
Is ESG Reporting Enough l All About Alpha
  • Are companies leveling with their shareholders and stakeholders in reporting data pertinent to their environmental and social impacts and their governance issues? Ernst & Young latest survey of investor sentiment on such matters is at the heart of a new report, “Is your nonfinancial performance revealing the true value of your business to investors? 2017”. The bottom line: 60% of the respondents, asked if companies adequately disclose their ESG risks, answered “no.” This is a considerable increase from the answer to the same question a year before.
Appealing To ESG Investors: A Q&A with Pirelli’s Maureen Kline l Environmental Leader
  • Tires are deceptively simple, Maureen Kline, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Pirelli Tire North America, points out. A great deal of R&D actually gets rolled into them. For Pirelli, that means developing environmentally friendly materials that won’t affect performance or safety. This and other strategies have helped the tire manufacturer appeal to environment, social, and governance investors. This article relays a recent in-depth conversation about tracking the value of sustainability and communicating it effectively to investors.
Shareholder Engagement
 
Helping the Missing 60 See the Light l Preventable Surprises
  • Preventable Surprises–along with allies at Boston Common Asset Management, Ceres, ShareAction and others–is calling for large investors to vote in favor of resolutions that push companies to plan for a 2°C-aligned economy. They are also asking investors to declare their voting intention to encourage others to follow. Their briefing note makes the case for action by both investment firms and asset owners, particularly members of Principles for Responsible Investment. 
"First Big 2017 Win For Shareholders And Women On Gender Pay Equity" As Starbucks Responds To Investor Pressure | MarketWatch
  • Arjuna Capital announced this week that it has withdrawn a gender pay equity shareholder resolution targeting Starbucks. Arjuna took the action since Starbucks released data on gender-based compensation.   
General Higher Education Sustainability & Endowment News
  • Dartmouth is embarking on a path toward a low-carbon future with strategic investments in sustainable energy, waste management, food systems, land use, transportation, and water systems, President Phil Hanlon announced this week. This plan of action takes into account recommendations made by a task force Hanlon convened a year ago, on Earth Day 2016. In its report, the interdisciplinary group of faculty, students, and staff proposes weaning the College from fossil fuels, among other strategies to shrink Dartmouth’s carbon footprint.
Why Academics Marched l Inside Higher Ed
  • Academics, graduate students and others brave the cold and rain in Washington last Saturday to rally for science and research. Participants told Inside Higher Ed why they joined the event.
Columbia Unveils New Campus Sustainability Plan l Columbia News
  • Columbia University has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in the next three years through a mix of energy conservation and efficiency measures under its first campus sustainability plan. 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
State Department Memo Bolsters Case to Stay in Climate Pact l Bloomberg
  • An internal State Department memo says the Paris climate accord imposes few obligations on the U.S., bolstering the case for Trump administration officials who want to stay in the deal. The document, marked as a draft, makes no explicit recommendation about whether the U.S. should remain part of the pact. It circulated ahead of a scheduled meeting of top administration officials Thursday to discuss whether President Donald Trump should fulfill his campaign pledge to exit the deal.
Manufacturers Prod White House to Leave Paris Climate Deal l Washington Examiner
  • Failure to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement would hurt American industry and upset Trump's economic goals, an industry group argued in a letter and detailed analysis sent to the White House. 
  • Global sea level rise could happen at nearly twice the rate previously projected by the U.N. IPCC, even under the best scenario, according to a new report. By the end of this century, as some glaciers disappear completely, the Arctic's contribution to global sea level rise will reach at least 19 to 25 centimeters, according to the report by the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program (AMAP).
Perry Says Trump Should Renegotiate, Not Exit, Paris Accord l Bloomberg
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry became the latest senior member of the administration to publicly advocate for staying in the Paris climate accord, saying the U.S. should renegotiate the deal and push European nations to take on a larger share of emissions reductions.
  • The world’s 49 most climate vulnerable countries have called on the G20 to finally set a date – preferably 2020 – for a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.
 
Clean Energy
 
For Aramco Insiders, Prince’s $2 Trillion IPO Valuation Doesn’t Add Up l Wall Street Journal
  • Officials at Saudi Arabian Oil Co. have told their superiors there is a hitch in the plans to take the state-owned oil company public: It is likely worth at least $500 billion less than the government previously suggested. By selling up to 5% of shares in an initial public offering targeted for next year, the government plans to raise billions of dollars that it can use to invest in other industries as part of a plan to reduce its heavy dependence on oil.
British Power Generation Achieves First Ever Coal-Free Day l The Guardian
  • Last Friday was Britain’s first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid. The control room tweeted the milestone on Friday. It is the first continuous 24-hour coal-free period for Britain since use of the fossil fuel began. West Burton 1 power station, the only coal-fired plant that had been up and running, went offline on Thursday.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Despite Divest Cheers, Harvard Maintains Investment Approach | Harvard 
  • CrimsonAs Divest Harvard activists cheered comments from a Harvard Management Company official that the natural resources portfolio is "pausing" investments in fossil fuels, the University maintained that the remarks did not represent a change in investment strategy.
  • Members of Divest Dartmouth are increasingly frustrated with the lack of action by the College in response to their over four-year campaign for fossil fuel divestment. The article chronicles the history of the campaign, and notes  the group is considering a number of options for escalation, including sit-ins, similar to actions taken by other divestment activists at other colleges. “You can expect that you’ll be seeing more from Divest Dartmouth in the future, and that not everything you’ll be seeing is nice, cookie-cutter, ‘Look how great the College is.’”
Washington University in St. Louis Addresses Fossil Free, Will Not Divest l Student Life
  • Chancellor Mark Wrighton announced that Washington University will not divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies in a statement Saturday. The announcement comes in response to specific requests from Fossil Free WashU, an umbrella campaign operating under the guidance of environmental activism organization Green Action and calling for the University to immediately begin the five-year process to divest its endowment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
Senators Plan Bill to Force SUNY, CUNY Divestment From Fossil Fuels l Times Union
  • A pair of Democratic state senators from Manhattan plan to introduce legislation that would require SUNY, CUNY, and their affiliated organizations and foundations to divest from publicly traded fossil fuel companies. The legislation would require both university systems’ boards of trustees to cease all new investments in the worlds’ 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies by July 1, 2018, and fully divest from stocks, debt or other securities by Jan. 1, 2022. The same rules would apply to university-affiliated nonprofit organizations, such as the SUNY and CUNY Research Foundations.
Students seek to break UNC Asheville's fossil fuel investments | Citizen-Times
  • UNC Asheville students with the environmental group UNCA Divest had planned to attend the university’s board of trustees meeting Friday to urge the administration’s to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Swarthmore Forum on Divestment and Sustainability Leads to Sit-In | The Phoenix

  • On April 21st, Swarthmore's Student Government Organization hosted a forum on divestment and sustainability. During the hour-long session, panelists answered questions from the student body. Panelists included the President, the VP of Finance and Administration, the Sustainability Director, faculty and students. Mountain Justice expressed frustration after the event, releasing a video and an official statement on their Facebook page in the days following the event. The group felt that their questions were not properly answered, and have since responded with a sit-in that is taking place in President Smith’s office and the surrounding hallway.
UW-Madison student council calls for divestment; officials say they won’t change practices | The Cap Times
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison administrators swiftly dismissed a call from the Associated Students of Madison student council to divest from corporations involved in private prisons, fossil fuels, border walls or arms manufacture.
Kenyon Trustees address divestment, status of the capital campaign | Kenyon Collegian
  • The Kenyon Board of Trustees arrived to a particularly vocal campus this past Thursday, April 20 for their annual spring meeting. DivestKenyon pitched tents on Ransom Lawn to protest the College’s suspected investment in fossil fuels and demand divestment from such corporations. DivestKenyon also led a demonstration of approximately 30 people outside of the Kenyon Inn, culminating in a conversation with two trustee, who expressed appreciation for the protestors’ energy but said they did not agree with their message. Students wrote an opinion piece on why "Divestment is the best plan for the College's future."