Weekly News Round-Up: July 3, 2019

Welcome to a rare mid-week edition of the news round-up!  Our team will be offline for the long weekend, but we wanted to leave you with a few items to browse through while stuck in holiday traffic or easing back into work on Friday or Monday.

If you have a moment to brainstorm, please share your best ideas for shaping the 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit agenda here, and/or submit specific session proposals through this form

Opportunities for Action

Universities and Colleges for the Climate Summit | SDG Accord

  • Deadline: August 1, 2019. In advance of the Secretary General’s Climate Summit on September 23, networks and institutions working in Higher Education are coming together to add their support to this letter that would be shared with key government officials and the media in advance of this event.

SRI Conference Student Scholarship l FAFN Emeriti

  • Deadline: July 8. IEN is partnering with the First Affirmative Financial Network emeriti and longtime affiliates who are offering scholarships to bring young people to The SRI Conference. 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 of Access to Medicine Index | Access to Medicine Foundation | Sign on deadline: Ongoing.

Investor Statement in Support of Ending Forced Arbitration for Sexual Harassment Claims | RISE

  • The Return on Investment & Social Equity (RISE) Community, hosted by wealth management firm Robasciotti & Philipson, invites investors to sign on to this statement in support of publicly traded companies ending the practice of forced arbitration for employee sexual harassment claims by the year 2020.


New Reports

Green Finance Strategy:  Transforming Finance for a Greener Future | Government of the United Kingdom

  • This strategy recognises the role of the financial sector in delivering global and domestic climate and environmental objectives. It sets out: the proposals for green finance at the heart of delivering the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, 25 Year Environment Plan and Industrial Strategy, and how the proposals support the UK’s economic policy for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.


Sustainable Investing By Institutional Asset Owners

Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change | The Investor Agenda

  • Led by IEN members including Ceres, CDP, and PRI, a group of 477 institutional investors representing with well over USD $34 trillion in assets signed this statement urging world government leaders to step up ambition on climate change and enact strong policies by 2020 to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including phasing out thermal coal power and pricing carbon. The statement was released alongside the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

(Watch) Norway: Prudent Green Investing | Deutsche Welle

  • Investors used to make lots of money with oil stocks. But the world is turning away from fossil fuels. Norway's sovereign wealth fund aims to protect its assets, and that now means divesting from eco-unfriendly companies.


Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bank of America Will Stop Lending to Private-Prison Firms | Bloomberg

  • Bank of America Corp., the second-biggest U.S. bank, will stop lending to companies that run private prisons and detention centers. The move followed a review by the bank’s ESG committee, which included site visits and consultation with clients, civil rights leaders, criminal justice experts and academics. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender also met with its internal Hispanic and black leaders.

Chubb Ceases New Coal-Plant Business to Fight Climate Change | Bloomberg

  • Chubb Ltd. said it will stop underwriting the construction or operation of new coal-fired plants to fight climate change. The insurer will also stop underwriting or making new debt or equity investments in companies that derive more than 30% of their revenue from coal-mining or energy production from coal, it said in a statement Monday. Insurance coverage for firms that exceed that threshold will be phased out by 2022.

(Listen) Impact Investing’s ‘Third Phase’: What New Challenges Lie Ahead? | The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

  • Impact investing pioneer Antony Bugg-Levine and IIX's Durreen Shahnaz discuss the road ahead for this movement in this podcast.

Special Report: The Sustainability Issue | Barron’s

(Listen) Public Pension Supporters Reconsider Socially Responsible Investing | WBUR

  • Socially responsible investing was once attractive to the directors of the California Pension Employees' Retirement System, or CALPERS, but they may be rethinking it. Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Derek Thompson, senior editor at The Atlantic, about why.

Myth-Busting ESG Investing Concerns: It’s Not Just for the Tree Huggers | Chief Investment Officer

  • As ESG investment styles continue to ramp up in the investor community, a number of claims seeking to stunt its growth have popped up. ISS-Ethix Climate Solutions and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association prepared reports that offer compelling arguments to debunk a multitude of common claims, or “myths,” concerning ESG-focused investments.

Leveraged Loan Investors Push Private Equity Firms on ESG | U.S. News & World Report

  • Private equity firms are under pressure to boost their use of ESG criteria as debt investors and limited partners in their funds increasingly use sustainability criteria to drive investment decisions and manage risk.

Sustainable Investing: How To Avoid Greenwashing? | The Corner

  • With the rise and rise of new sustainable funds, the question of how to avoid greenwashing becomes more prevalent, and there is a lot of attention in the media for this. SRI labels are popping up and the EU is in the process of defining an ecolabel. Whereas in the past a fund would simply be labeled (Socially) Responsible or not, the market is now distinguishing between different ways of implementing sustainability.


Green Bonds

Junk Debt Investors Welcome Rare Green Bond With Strong Demand | Bloomberg

  • Hannon Armstrong, which finances renewable energy and power efficiency projects, raised $350 million from its bond sale. The green sale is the first from a high-yield company that does business primarily in the U.S. to price since March 2017, and one of five actively trading green junk bonds. Investors piled more than $1.2 billion of orders into the books, which enabled the company to increase the amount it borrowed and also lock in lower interest rates.


Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Boosting Diverse Managers Needs a Big Push, Says Chicago Teachers’ CIO | Chief Investment Officer

  • Increasing diverse outside asset managers requires a full-bore commitment from the top, Angela Miller-May, chief investment officer of the $10.8 billion Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, told a congressional panel. This article summarizes the testimony and examples given in the hearing on boosting female and minority asset management.


Gender Lens Investing

Female-Inclusive Investment Committees Are Outperforming Their Peers | Chief Investment Officer

  • A new study carried out by HEC Paris Business School and MVision Private Equity Advisers found that gender-diverse investment committees of private equity fund managers have experienced comparatively higher returns against their male-only peers.


Investment Firm News

State Street Global Advisors Launches Its First ESG Money Market Fund | Business Wire

  • State Street Global Advisors today announced the launch of the State Street ESG Liquid Reserves Fund which seeks to apply financially material ESG scores to the management of the Fund. The Fund is the first money market fund to offer a portfolio composed entirely of investments that meet ESG criteria at the time of purchase.

A Conversation on ESG Investing With JUST Capital CEO Martin Whittaker | Motley Fool

  • Martin Whittaker is the CEO of JUST Capital, and he serves on the Carbon Disclosure Project North America board of directors. This interview covers JUST Capital's not-for-profit, unbiased, and transparent approach to providing ESG research and rankings, how it incorporates the public's priorities into its rankings, how JUST Capital engages with corporate America to help businesses improve their ESG scores, how Whittaker sees ESG evolving over the next several years, and more.


Economic & Policy Shifts

Canada Sustainable Finance Panel Lays Out Plan for Linking Climate Objectives to Investment Plans | Pensions & Investments

  • A report issued by Canada's Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance is making a series of recommendations aimed at connecting the country's climate objectives with its economic ambitions and investment mandates, including: that Canada map out an explicit 30-year transition path to a sustainable economy, create green savings incentives and establish a Canadian Sustainable Finance Action Council as a cross-departmental unit to advise and assist the federal government to implement the panel's recommendations




Climate Risk, Science, and Clean Energy

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Met Greta Thunberg: 'Hope Is Contagious' | The Guardian

  • One is America’s youngest-ever congresswoman, the other a Swedish schoolgirl. Two of the most powerful voices on the climate speak for the first time; read their discussion here.

BP Says Some of Its Oil ‘Won’t See the Light of Day’ | Bloomberg

  • Oil companies are under increasing pressure to bring fuel to market faster and cheaper, leading BP Plc to conclude some of its resources “won’t see the light of day,” according to its head of strategy. Some of the “more complicated to extract” resources in the British oil major’s portfolio may have to be sold or stay in the ground. They’re going to be too expensive and too time-consuming to get out, and the industry is under pressure to shorten the duration and size of projects.

Electrify America, Walmart Announce Completion of Over 120 Charging Stations at Walmart Stores Nationwide with Plans for Further Expansion | 3BL Media

  • Electrify America’s continued collaboration with Walmart is expected to make the retailer one of the largest retail hosts of electric vehicle charging stations across the United States, and reinforces Walmart’s broader mission to spark collective action – alongside key partners – to drive environmental sustainability and provide customers access to sustainable options.


General Higher Education Endowment News

Here’s How the Treasury Department and IRS Plan to Tax Endowments | Institutional Investor

  • The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have brought endowments one step closer to facing taxation, releasing a set of proposed regulations that would put the so-called endowment excise tax into practice. The tax is a departure from prior practices, which avoided taxing endowments at schools altogether. Read additional analysis from Bloomberg and Inside Higher Ed.

Gallagher: Endowment report to be released soon | The Pitt News

  • University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said he received a report from Pitt’s Socially Responsible Investment Committee and will release it before students return for the fall semester. The committee was formed in 2017 to research socially responsible ways to invest the University’s endowment. Read more context on student calls for fossil fuel divestment here.

Rutgers Announces New Endowment to Help Its Neediest Students | Rutgers Today

  • Two task forces commissioned by Rutgers’ Board of Trustees – the Task Force on Student Aid and the Task Force on Philanthropy – found that a growing number of students are unable to complete their degrees because of limited resources, while others can graduate but leave college saddled with significant debt. As a result, the board is undertaking several initiatives to address these financial challenges and to seek more significant private support for need-based grants and scholarships. Going forward, the board and Rutgers University Foundation will work to raise $3 million for the endowment within 10 years.




General Higher Education Sustainability News

Higher Education Complicit in Climate Emergency | Sterling College

  • Under a bold, 10-year initiative released this week, Sterling College—among the first in the country to divest from fossil fuels—will focus its programs on advancing ecological thinking and action. The college’s new strategic initiative—unanimously endorsed by trustees and faculty—names the forces leading to climate apocalypse: fossil fuel dependence; destruction of biodiversity; promotion of harmful agricultural practices; persistence of structural oppression that impacts human and natural communities; and the deterioration of civil society through estrangement from community, nature and place.

UC Davis Workshop to Address ‘Mobility Justice’ and ‘Bicycle Equity’ | The College Fix

  • Sponsored by the campus Feminist Research Institute, a two-day event will examine the intersections of “bike equity” and “sustainable transportation futures,” including a deep discussion regarding the complexity of equity associated with making bikes and establishing new mobilities, but also will consider power relationships and racism.

Falmouth University Declares Climate & Ecological Emergency | Falmouth University

  • Falmouth University is joining others in the UK and across the world by declaring a climate and ecological emergency. The University is doing so in recognition of the threat that climate change poses to the environment and communities, both locally and globally.


Private Prison Divestment

Wide Index Use Means ESG-Minded Investors Own Private Prison Stocks | Chief Investment Officer

  • CoreCivic and GEO Group are two of the largest private prisons. Both are publicly traded, and some of their largest shareholders are those that tout ESG principles, including public pension plans. Broad indexes, which house large portions of the stock market, have always gotten flak for this quandary: Their automatic ownership mandate means they have positions in controversial companies, whether in tobacco, firearms, military hardware, or alcohol. And with index investing increasingly popular, their owning such “sin stocks” will only expand.

CalPERS Comes Under Fire for Prison Investments | Institutional Investor

  • Pension funds have fallen under scrutiny for investments in two prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic, amid growing concern over how detention facilities are being used in the immigration crisis at the U.S border with Mexico. Educators for Migrant Justice, a nonprofit group that says on its website that it seeks to end family separation and “migrant abuse profiteering,” is stepping up pressure on California Public Employees’ Retirement Systems and State of Oregon Public Employees Retirement System to sell the two prison companies.


Fossil Fuel Divestment

Opinion: Dare a Deed for the Old Mother | The Dartmouth

  • The founder of Dartmouth Alumni for Climate Action and a former student leader of Divest Dartmouth argues that Dartmouth needs to divest from fossil fuels.


Calendar of Upcoming Events

IEN Events:

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

2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | Intentional Endowments Network and Second Nature, February 23-25, 2020, Atlanta, GA

Other Events:

Sustainable Investing Solutions | Appleseed Capital, Brown Advisory, Calvert Research, Community Capital Mgmt, Saturna Capital, First Affirmative/Folio Institutional, Parnassus Investments, Impax Asset Mgmt, Trillium Asset Mgmt, Green Century , Allianz, Calvert Impact, and US SIF, July 9, 2019, Boston, MA This is a Financial Advisor Only Event.

2019 Opportunity Zone Expo New York and Chicago | Opportunity Zone Expo, August 9, 2019, New York, NY and August 12, 2019, Chicago, IL. Interested members should contact kaede@intentionalendowments.org to receive a $50 discount link for IEN Member registration.

Getting Gender Smart: Impact Investing with a Gender Lens | Duke Fuqua School of Business, September 9-11, 2019, Durham, North Carolina

Financing the Future: The Global Climate Divest-Invest Summit | Divest Invest, Fossil Free SA, Global Catholic Climate Movement, GreenFaith, PACJA, Shine, Wallace Global Fund, and 350, September 10-11, 2019, Cape Town, South Africa

Impact Investing: Driving Social Purpose Through Measurable Investment Returns | Skytop Strategies, September 17, 2019, Boston, MA, Interested members should contact nicole@intentionalendowments.org to access a 15% off registration IEN Member discount code.

Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019 | UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, September 25, 2019, New York, NY (Climate Week)

GIIN Investor Forum | GIIN, October 2-3, 2019, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Interested members should contact hannah@intentionalendowments.org to access a 15% off registration IEN Member discount code.

2019 AASHE Conference & Expo: Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy | AASHE, October 27-30, 2019, Spokane, WA

21st Annual Endowment and Foundation Forum | Opal, November 7-8, 2019, Boston, MA

2nd Impact Summit America | Phenix Capital, November 14, 2019, New York, NY

Get up to date IEN News

Sign up for our Newsletters