Weekly News Round-Up: May 12th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
GPP Webinar: Innovative Financing Options & the University Solar Deployment Process l Green Power Partnership, May 17th, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Experts from the University of Utah and the University of South Florida will discuss different financing options such as student fees, green revolving funds, endowment funding, stakeholder donations, and unique alumni and community arrangements.
  • This full day program will deliberate on best practices in impact investing, and how they generate measurable social, environmental and economic results through bridging the gap between purpose and profit. Georges Dyer will be speaking on a panel titled "The Power of the SDG: How It Might Align Performance and Scale Risk Control."
Impact Capitalism Summit - Nantucket | Big Path Capital, July 19-20, 2017, Nantucket, MA 
  • This Summit will focus on key factors that are changing the impact investing landscape. The biggest transfer of wealth in human history has started. Over the next 35 years as an unprecedented $58.7 trillion dollars of wealth transfers to women and millennials, who factor a company's social and environmental impact into their investing decisions at a dramatically higher rate. 
New Resources
 
The Value of Corporate Purpose: A Guide for CEOs and Entrepreneurs l KKS Advisors & The Generation Foundation
  • Many companies are now seeking a way to signal their purpose; their reason for being beyond profits. In doing so, some companies have chosen to become certified B Corps or adopt alternative legal forms, such as the Public Benefit Corporation. But why do companies choose to signal their commitment to society and what are the potential mechanisms to do so? This research suggests that the answer lies in understanding the nexus of purpose, authenticity, trust and value. Purpose could drive customer, employee and investor choices as long as that purpose is authentic.
  • The GIIN Initiative for Institutional Impact Investment aims to support the meaningful participation of institutional asset owners in the impact investing market and ultimately increase the amount of institutional capital allocated to impact investments globally. Leveraging the resources and expertise of the GIIN, the GIIN membership, and other industry bodies, the Initiative seeks to remove key bottlenecks common to institutions active in or entering the impact investing market. The GIIN is collaborating with and building on the work of other relevant industry groups as part of this Initiative. Industry partners include PRI and the Intentional Endowments Network.
 
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing
 
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how French President-elect Emmanuel Macron's commitment to clean energy could drive $54 billion of investment and come as a salve to investors and companies worried about the future of the United States support for the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change; Apple and Wal-Mart Executives took the top spots for executive pay in 2016; A Dunkin' Donuts shareholder environmental proposal got double-digit support but failed to pass; and investors target all-white, male C-suite at TJX Cos.
  • The SASB Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 non-profit that is responsible for the funding and oversight of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), today announced the nine members of the inaugural SASB Standards Board. The SASB Standards Board is accountable for the due process, outcomes, and ratification of the SASB standards, including any changes to the standards going forward. Members are listed in the article.
  • The de-coupling of CO2 emissions from GDP growth means that the energy driving the economy is either being used more efficiently, or it is being produced through more environmentally-friendly methods. Across regions, the overall stabilisation in emissions is driven by different factors, so it is useful to examine where the various regions are in their journey toward reducing emissions.
ESG Is Not An Investment Strategy l Financial Advisor
  • Contrary to what many may think, ESG is not an investment strategy. Rather, it’s a data tool. While many investors use ESG data to capture a set of values around which an investment strategy may be organized, it is most commonly used by institutional investors to detect material risks and opportunities associated with potential investments. In a recent CAIA survey, 77% of respondents thought that responsible investing had grown in significance in the prior three years, and a like number thought it would be even more significant three years from now.  
  • Impact investing and sustainable investment solutions are becoming more and more popular on Wall Street. But there is a misconception that these solutions, which consider the environmental and social impact of investments, are not focused on getting the most return on investors' capital. Derek Bingham is the head of GS Sustain Americas, Goldman Sachs' US "research product team focused on global quality." Bingham's team seeks to identify the sustainability measures that best align with returns in the long term.
 
 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 
  • The role of impact investing and the SDGs are discussed in this Q&A with Katherine St. Onge, Senior Officer on the Investor Relations team of Calvert Foundation.
  • Toniic Institute, the global action community for impact investors, today released the first version of the Toniic SDG Impact Theme Framework at the Confluence Philanthropy 7th Annual Practitioners Gathering in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Framework links 11 macro impact investing themes, and 55 sub-themes, to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal of the framework, the development of which Toniic will curate as a public good, is to allow impact investors to align their investments with the SDGs and thereby find greater alignment and synergy in global investment opportunities.
 
 
Investment Manager News
 
  • Impax has been running three model portfolios based on modifications to the MSCI World Index, which reduce Exploration and Production (“E&P”) exposure to varying degrees, and in order to preserve energy price (factor) exposure, replace it with Energy Efficiency stocks. In this paper, they report on the model’s continuing development and discuss why, over the past 18 months, reinvesting fossil fuel exposure in energy efficiency exposed equities has outperformed a “do nothing” approach. Since inception, the model portfolios have performed slightly better than the market with the full divestment option performing delivering a return of 45bps in excess of the “do nothing” MSCI World index, with limited impact on tracking error. 
Community Capital Management's CRA Qualified Investment Fund Exceeds $2 Billion In Assets l PR Newswire
  • Community Capital Management, Inc., a leading fixed income impact investing manager, today announced that its flagship CRA Qualified Investment Fund has exceeded $2 billion in assets. We are excited and proud to share with our clients and industry partners that the CRA Qualified Investment Fund has reached another important milestone, surpassing $2 billion in assets," said David Sand, chief investment strategist of CCM. "Reaching this level is a testament to the increasing demand for impact investments and the many investors specifically looking for fixed income impact investments."
How Can Impact Investors Help Confront Racial Injustice l Zevin Asset Management
  • Zevin Asset Man­age­ment is explor­ing how racial injus­tice inter­sects with invest­ment cap­i­tal and the pri­vate sec­tor. Pat Tomaino’s new piece on Medium .com reviews the risks to com­pa­nies, acknowl­edg­ing that firms are often part of the problem.
 
 
General Higher Education Endowment & Sustainability News
 
  • More than 30 college and university presidents have weighed in on climate change policy, signing a letter asking state and federal elected officials to try to put in place some type of carbon pricing to charge for greenhouse gas emissions. Presidents of Dickinson, Pitzer, Swarthmore and Vassar Colleges, as well as Wesleyan University and the University of California, Berkeley, are among those signing the letter. It says that climate change makes students’ futures uncertain and that carbon pricing is a step that can fight climate change.
Harvard Said to Seek Sale of $2.5B in Endowment Assets l MSN
  • Harvard University’s endowment is trying to sell about $2.5 billion of private equity, venture capital and real estate investments, according to a person familiar with the matter. Bloomberg's Michael McDonald reports on "Bloomberg Markets."
  • West Virginia State University recently announced it will sue The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) for contaminating the groundwater under the University’s campus. The lawsuit concerns three hazardous chemicals that have migrated into the groundwater beneath the University from Dow's Institute plant. Several other companies that have or had operations at the Institute plant are also named as defendants. 
 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
 
The Business Case for the Paris Climate Accord l The New York Times
  • President Trump faces a choice that will echo across his presidency and beyond: whether to remain in the Paris climate agreement. In a recent barrage of public letters and full-page ads, Fortune 100 companies are voicing strong support for remaining in the Paris accord. The breadth of this coalition is remarkable: industries from oil and gas to retail, mining, utilities, agriculture, chemicals, information and automotive. This is as close as big business gets to a consensus position.
G7 and G20 Urged to Stand by Paris Climate Accord | PRI, Ceres, IIGGC, IGCC and CDP
  • The PRI, Ceres, IIGGC, IGCC and CDP are coordinating an investor letter organized as a response to US threats to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The letter, which will be sent to the G7 and G20 governments – calls for the implementation of the accord, policies to drive investment in the low-carbon transition and green investment, and implementation of the FSB Task Force recommendations. Signatory investors include Amundi, Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, Aviva Investors, AXA Group, Caisse des Dépôts Groupe, ERAFP, Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites, HSBC Global Asset Management, RobecoSAM and Schroders. Join 216 investors representing US$15 trillion who have already signed. Deadline June 30, 2017. For details on how to add your institution to this list, and instructions on how to review a copy of the letter, please visit:  https://www.tfaforms.com/4612398 Please visit IEN's Sign-On Opportunities page for more on this and other investor letters and statements. 
Can Colleges Create a Climate for Pricing Carbon? l Huffington Post
  • The presidents of thirty U.S. colleges and universities recently signed a letter giving their support to the student-driven #PutAPriceOnIt campaign that is coordinated by Our Climate. Signatories so far include the presidents of Dickinson, Swarthmore, Pitzer, Wesleyan, Vassar, Fordham, Macalester, UC Berkeley and twenty-two others. They are hoping to be joined by 500 of their peers before the year is over. A goal of the initiative is to catalyze dialogue about climate change solutions on college campuses that will add to and amplify national conversations, helping to push through the existing stalemate and realize effective federal and state level action.
California is About to Revolutionize Climate Policy … Again l Vox
  • California’s ambition on climate change policy has become dizzying to track. A few months ago, the leader of the senate introduced a bill that would commit the state to 100 percent renewable energy — and that’s not even the biggest California climate policy story of 2017. The biggest story broke yesterday, though it didn’t make much of a splash and will likely sneak under the public’s radar. Cap and trade is the focus of a crucially important new bill. This article details the bill and what it could mean for California's cap and trade program.
U.S. Bluntly Rebuffs Queries on Climate l Bloomberg
  • The Trump administration, responding to skepticism about its commitment to the Paris climate accord from China and other countries, bluntly told them that it is putting American jobs first. In a formal response to queries filed with the United Nations, the administration President Donald Trump left little doubt that it is taking a different approach in tone and substance from former President Barack Obama. It said its pro-jobs agenda takes priority and that it would continue to roll back environmental regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions.
Seeing a Threat to Paris Accord, CalPERS Urges Countries to Commit to Climate Pact l The Sacramento Bee
  • The California Public Employees’ Retirement System joined more than 150 other international investors in a letter Sunday urging the world’s largest economies to remain committed to the 2015 climate change accord known as the Paris Agreement. The letter is both a sign that investors consider the pact to be in jeopardy and an example of the shareholder activism that CalPERS has highlighted this year while it faced calls from environmental activists to divest from certain energy companies.
Big Investors Urge Trump to Stick with Paris Climate Accord l WIBQ
  • Investors with more than $15 trillion of assets under management urged governments led by the United States to implement the Paris climate accord to fight climate change despite U.S. President Donald Trump's threats to pull out. "As long-term institutional investors, we believe that the mitigation of climate change is essential for the safeguarding of our investments," according to the letter signed by 214 institutional investors and published on Monday. "We urge all nations to stand by their commitments to the Agreement," it said. Signatories of the letter included the California Public Employees Retirement System and other pension funds from Sweden to Australia.
  • A new study suggests that Alaska, with its huge stretches of tundra and forest, may be shifting from a net sink, or storehouse, of carbon to a net source. The study focused on one possible cause: warmer temperatures that keep the Arctic tundra from freezing until later in the fall, allowing plant respiration and microbial decomposition — processes that release carbon dioxide — to continue longer.
The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners l Bloomberg
  • This article explores how sea level rise in Florida could reduce demand, decrease financing opportunities, lower the tax base and cause reduction in government services-- all before the sea consumes a single house.
Clean Energy
 
U.S. Wind Energy Installations Surge: A New Turbine Rises Every 2.4 Hours l Inside Climate News
  • Every two and a half hours, workers installed a new wind turbine in the United States during the first quarter of 2017, marking the strongest start for the wind industry in eight years, according to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released on May 2. Nationwide, wind provided 5.6 percent of all electricity produced in 2016, an amount of electricity generation that has more than doubled since 2010. Much of the demand for new wind energy generation in recent years has come from Fortune 500 companies including Home Depot, GM, Walmart and Microsoft that are buying wind energy in large part for its low, stable cost.
Stunning Drops in Solar and Wind Costs Turn Global Power Market Upside Down l Think Progress
  • In just one year, the cost of solar generation worldwide dropped on average 17 percent, according to a new report from the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The average costs for onshore wind dropped 18 percent last year, while those for offshore wind fell a whopping 28 percent. The result is “more bang for the buck,” as the U.N. and BNEF put it. Last year saw 138.5 gigawatts of new renewable capacity. That not only beat the 2015 record of 127.5 GW, but it was built with a total investment that was 23 percent lower than in 2015.
Tesla’s Solar Roof Sets Musk’s Grand Unification Into Motion l Bloomberg
  • Tesla has begun taking orders for its transformative new solar roof. The pricing is competitive, and it marks the final piece in Elon Musk’s vision for a grand unification of his clean-energy ambitions—combining solar power, home batteries, and electric cars. “These are really the three legs of the stool for a sustainable energy future,” Musk said. “Solar power going to a stationary battery pack so you have power at night, and then charging an electric vehicle … you can scale that to all the world’s demand.”
 
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
In Face of Government Apathy, Activists Launch Wave of Global Divestment Actions | Common Dreams
  • Intensifying the global demand for nations and institutions to move away from fossil fuels, campaigners last Friday launched ten days of direct actions calling for divestment from the companies most responsible for the climate crisis. From New Zealand to South Africa to Ecuador and beyond, thousands are expected to take part in the Global Divestment Mobilization, which will include actions in 39 countries across six continents.
  • At the culmination of a two-week, student-led protest advocating for the University of Colorado Boulder to divest from fossil fuels, Fossil Free CU member P.D. Gantert said the group won the divestment fight despite the university's refusal to financially cut ties with the oil and gas industry. "It's absolutely miraculous what we've done in the last two weeks," Gantert said as he marched through the campus. "Now people on this campus actually know what this issue is. We've changed the conversation. We've won."
University of California Santa Barbara Students Sit in For Fossil Fuel Divestment l Santa Barbara Independent
  • Students from UCSB walked into Cheadle Hall, the campus administration building, and are sitting in to pressure UC Regent Sherman to divest the $2.8 billion the UC currently has invested in fossil fuel companies. Fossil Free UCSB coordinated the effort to bring students from every corner of campus to the sit in. UCSB’s chancellor, Henry Yang, embraces the campaign.

Chancellor Yang Agrees To Endorse $3 Billion UC Divestment From Fossil Fuels After 72-Hour Sit-In l Daily Nexus

  • Nearly 60 hours into a sit-in staged by student activists, Chancellor Henry T. Yang has agreed to publicly endorse UC divestment of nearly $3 billion from fossil fuel companies, making him the first-ever UC chancellor to take an active stance in favor of divestment.
Gonzaga University Students Call on University to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Spokesman Review
  • Joining a growing campaign on college campuses across the U.S., Gonzaga University student leaders are calling on the Spokane school to divest its $200 million-plus endowment from fossil fuels. The Gonzaga Student Body Association Senate voted last week for a resolutionasking the university’s board of trustees to remove endowment investments from the 200 most carbon-intensive companies by 2020. That list includes Coal India, Gazprom, PetroChina, ExxonMobil and BP.
  • The global campaign to encourage investors to ditch fossil fuel will secure another high-profile victory today with confirmation nine leading Catholic organizations are to divest from coal, oil and gas.
Trump Tower Rally Demands Divestment Ahead of Decision on Paris Climate Deal l The Guardian
  • Environmental activists held a rally inside Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, ahead of an expected decision from the president on whether to leave the Paris climate change agreement. About 90 people gathered in a public garden on the fifth floor of Donald Trump’s building in midtown Manhattan to encourage the New York City government to divest its pension funds from fossil fuel companies. Organizers from environmental group 350.org said individual states and local councils can still take action on climate change, even in the face of a government that seems ambivalent on the subject.
Divest Dartmouth Members Gather in Hanlon's Office Hours l The Dartmouth
  • This week, approximately 20 students gathered at College President Phil Hanlon’s open office hours to demonstrate support for fossil fuel divestment. In an email publicizing the demonstration, members of Divest Dartmouth wrote that while they have attended Hanlon’s office hours multiple times this year, each time, they left Parkhurst Hall “frustrated with [Hanlon’s] lack of transparency and obvious stalling tactics.” As a result, the group made efforts to recruit “new faces” in order to show Hanlon the extent of student body support of fossil fuel divestment as a move toward climate justice, according to the email.