Weekly News Round-Up: September 28th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: September 28th, 2018

Please find this week's news round-up below.  

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Have a great weekend,
Nicole

 

Nicole Harman 
Program Manager, The Intentional Endowments Network
www.intentionalendowments.org

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New IEN Members
 
Sustainable Investing by Institutional Asset Owners

World's Biggest Wealth Fund Sticks to Oil Divestment Push l Bloomberg

  • The battle over plans by the world’s largest wealth fund to give up oil is far from over. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global wants to divest from oil and gas stocks, a proposal that was recently rebuffed by a government-appointed committee. The set-back leaves the man in charge of overseeing the fund at the central bank unfazed.

New Jersey Adopts ESG Policy, Reports 9.06% Gain in Fiscal Year l Pensions & Investments

  • The New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton, will operate under a new formal policy for evaluating ESG practices for its investments. The new ESG policy was approved Thursday by an 8-0 vote by the State Investment Council. Separately, the pension fund returned a net 9.06% for the fiscal year ended June 30, topping the benchmark of 8.65%.

Standard Chartered Bank Quits Coal l Eco Business

  • Standard Chartered Bank is to stop funding coal-fired power plants. The bank, which has loaned US$1.8 billion to coal power projects since 2010, published a new power policy revealing the news on Tuesday, and becomes the first Asia-focused bank to rule out new coal development in the world’s biggest region for extraction and burning of the fossil fuel for energy.

GPIF Chooses Two Indices for Its ESG Benchmark l Chief Investment Officer

  • Japan’s $1.4 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) has selected two of its carbon-friendly indices as the benchmark for its ESG strategy as it continues to cut pollutants from its portfolio. GPIF will utilize the S&P Global Ex-Japan LargeMidCap Carbon Efficient Index and the S&P/JPX Carbon Efficient Index for the passive investment tracking of its green stocks.
 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

ESG Strategy Varies by Region, Disclosure Still Needs Progress l Chief Investment Officer

  • Although more than 60% of investors and nearly 50% of issuers worldwide have an ESG plan in place, these rates vary widely based on region, according to a report from HSBC, which also found that disclosure of ESG strategy and policy still has a long way to go.

Climate Change, Paris Accords Driving ESG Strategies: Report l Think Advisor

  • A new report from Newsweek Media Group says ESG investing has gone mainstream, having gotten a boost from the Paris Climate Accord and adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. At the same time, it says, a significant gap exists between investors’ good intentions and action. The report was based on findings from a survey of 281 asset owners and managers from across the world, 37% of which were based in the Americas, as well as a dozen in-depth interviews with leading investors and practitioners in ESG investing.

ESG Investing May Not Protect Portfolios From Climate Change Losses, Warns Bloomberg-Led Report l Forbes

  • ESG strategies may not protect investors from climate change losses, warns a report released this week by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Much of the climate change impact in the future will come through weaker growth and lower returns on businesses across the board, says the study. “Investors may not be able to avoid climate-related risks by moving out of certain asset classes as a wide range of asset types could be affected,” cautions the study by the group created by the Financial Stability Board, a global regulatory coordinating council.

Giving the Green Light to Impact Investing in Environmental Projects l Financial Times

  • This article discusses a growing number of financial mechanisms, from green bonds to insurance products, that bring private sector capital into the business of environmental conservation. Investors’ goals vary; some look to make a direct impact, such as the avoidance of carbon emissions, the restoration of ecosystems or the conservation of water supplies.

Rich Americans Are Last In Sustainable Investing, UBS Says l Financial Advisor

  • American millionaires are lagging behind wealthy counterparts elsewhere when it comes to sustainable investing. U.S. investors ranked last among those surveyed in 10 countries with at least $1 million of investable assets, with only 12 percent claiming to have put money into environmental, social and corporate governance-related holdings, according to UBS Group AG. That compares with 60 percent of respondents in China and 53 percent in Brazil.

CFA Society of the UK to Launch ESG Investment Certificate l Insurance Asset Risk

  • CFA Society of the UK will launch an ESG investment certificate next year, Insurance Asset Risk has learned. As sustainability makes its way into mainstream finance, the UK Society of the CFA Institute is hoping the new certificate will further bridge the knowledge and skills gap between the financial and social sectors.

Observations on the Latest Shifts in Sustainable Investing l Triple Pundit

  • In this article, the author reflects on the state of the sustainable investing industry and the challenges it faces.
 
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

SEIA, HBCU Coalition Join in National Effort to Increase Diversity of Solar Industry’s Workforce l SEIA

  • With a goal of making the solar workforce and solar communities more diverse, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition (HBCU-CDAC) have begun a new effort to increase recruitment of African-American students into the industry. SEIA and the HBCU-CDAC have signed a MOU to begin a comprehensive effort to help the solar industry recruit and employ more students from the nation’s 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This will include hosting a national jobs fair, individual jobs fairs at the HBCU schools and bringing solar companies to campuses for recruitment.
 
Shareholder Engagement

Nuns Score a Win Against Smith & Wesson’s Parent l Boston Globe

  • Shareholders in American Outdoor Brands — a.k.a. Smith & Wesson — rebuked the Springfield manufacturer’s leadership on Tuesday, passing a nonbinding resolution dealing with gun safety that was filed by a coalition of nuns and affiliated religious groups. The activist investors, led by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, had filed a shareholder proposal calling on the company to issue a report by Feb. 8 that outlines the violence associated with the weapons it makes, and details of any corporate efforts to research and produce safer guns. The company’s management fought against the proposal by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
 
General Higher Education Endowment News

University of California Posts 8.9% Return for Endowment, 7.8% for Pension Fund l Pensions & Investments

  • University of California, Oakland, saw its $12.3 billion general endowment return a net 8.9% for the fiscal year ended June 30, topping its customs policy benchmark of 8.5%, according to investment results on the university system's website. In addition, the university's $66.8 billion defined benefit plan returned a net 7.8% for the same period, compared to its custom benchmark of 8.4.%.

The University of Virginia Endowment Grew by Nearly $1B Last Fiscal Year l The Daily Progress

  • The University of Virginia’s endowment has increased by nearly $1 billion in the past fiscal year, to $9.5 billion. Last year the endowment stood at $8.6 billion. According to the University of Virginia Investment Management Company, which manages the endowment fund and its investments, the portfolio’s long-term investments returned 11.4 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, outperforming its policy benchmark.

Notre Dame's Endowment Grows 12.2 Percent to $13.1 Billion l Southern Bend Tribune

  • The University of Notre Dame’s endowment pool grew by $1.3 billion over the last fiscal year, with a return of 12.2 percent. On June 30, the end of the fiscal year, the university’s endowment was at a value of $13.1 billion, a historic high and an improvement over last year’s total of $11.8 billion.

Family Fights Ohio State For Using Endowment For Fundraising l The News Herald

  • The family of an Ohio State University alumnus who endowed over $30 million to the school is fighting to keep the school from draining the money for fundraising purposes. Attorney and Ohio State alumnus Michael Moritz donated $30 million to the university in 2001 to endow four faculty chairs and give 30 annual scholarships to needy law students. The Moritz family now contends the university is illegally draining millions in “development fees” and threatening the endowment’s survival.

Private Equity Helps Drive College Endowment Returns l SF Gate

  • Private equity helped drive annual performance for the top-performing U.S. college endowments. Michigan State University posted an 11.1 percent investment gain in fiscal 2018, boosted by private equity, venture and real estate portfolios, "which handily beat their public market counterparts," Chief Investment Officer Philip Zecher said in an email.
 
General Higher Education Sustainability News

Universities Should Lead Efforts to Slow Climate Change, if the Federal Government Won’t l Washington Post

  • In this article the leaders of two of the nation’s largest public higher education systems, University of California president Janet Napolitano and Chancellor of the State University of New York Kristina Johnson, discuss the need to marshal their institutions’ unique resources, energy and expertise to help stave off irreparable climate catastrophe.
 
Investment Firm News

Germany, France, BlackRock Launch Fund to Save the Planet l Handelsblatt

  • The French and German governments have joined forces with fund managers to speed up the fight against global warming. French President Emmanuel Macron and the head of fund management giant BlackRock, Larry Fink, announced the plan this week. Governments and philanthropic foundations could provide initial funding of up to $100 million (€85 million) to kick-start the fund, said financial sources. Institutional investors such as pension funds, insurers, sovereign wealth funds and family offices could then contribute a multiple of that sum which would be invested in renewable energy and low-emission transport projects in emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America.

Meeting Sustainable Investing Goals With Green Bonds l ETF Trends

  • With more investors looking to apply socially responsible and sustainable principles throughout portfolios, fixed income offerings are becoming a bigger part of that equation. The VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF, the first fixed income exchange traded fund offering exposure to green bonds, is one fund that can help with that objective.

BlackRock and Thomson Reuters Partner to Launch ESG Fund l Financial Technologies Forum

  • BlackRock and Thomson Reuters have combined forces on an ETF that helps investors support ESG targets via companies in developed and emerging markets.

Vanguard Charitable Launches Three New ESG Options, Expands Investment Lineup l Business Wire

  • Vanguard Charitable, one of the top grant making organizations in the country, announced today the upcoming launch of three new ESG investment options, using index exchange-traded funds.

Bitcoin: One of the Most Influential Endowments Has Invested in BTC Hedge Fund, says Novogratz l AMB Crypto

  • Mike Novogratz, the CEO of Galaxy Digital said that an influential institutional investor has invested in Bitcoin Hedge Fund, during an interview with CNBC Fast Money. The Founder, however, has not revealed who the institutional investor is but has stated that they are one of the most influential ‘endowments’. 
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

Exxon, Chevron Climate U-Turn Includes $300 Million for Research l Bloomberg

  • Three of the biggest U.S. oil companies pledged $300 million toward research into lowering climate-change pollution as they joined an industry group led by European rivals. Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. will join the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative and expand an existing $1 billion fund for carbon-reduction ventures, the group said in a statement Thursday. The move brings Big Oil’s biggest names into a united front as climate activists and investors ratchet up the pressure on fossil-fuel providers.

We're Moving to Higher Ground': America's Era of Climate Mass Migration is Here l The Guardian

  • This article discusses how, by the end of this century, sea level rises alone could displace 13 million people, and many states will have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground. 

New Climate Debate: How to Adapt to the End of the World l Bloomberg

  • This article highlights how researchers are thinking about social collapse and how to prepare for it in response to recent climate related events. 

Malaysia to Ban Single-Use Plastic l Eco Business

  • This article highlights how the Malaysian government has charted a zero-waste plan that aims to abolish single-use plastic by 2030. Malaysia is the first country in Southeast Asia to take bold action to tackle plastic pollution.

Indonesian President Signs 3-Year Freeze on New Oil Palm Licences l Eco Business

  • Indonesian President Joko Widodo has signed a moratorium on new licenses for oil palm plantations. The presidential instruction, signed on Sept. 19, will remain in place for no more than three years, according to the policy document, seen by Mongabay.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

After Three Years With Little Success, Fossil Free Penn Tweaks 2015 Proposal Calling for Divestment l The Daily Pennsylvanian

  • After the University’s rejection of Fossil Free Penn’s proposal for comprehensive divestment from fossil fuels in 2015, Fossil Free Penn has decided to attack the divestment issue from a different angle. This month, FFP submitted a refined proposal to the Penn administration that targets divestment from the two most harmful fossil fuels: coal and tar sands. The proposal calls for divestment from the top 100 coal companies and top 20 tar sands companies, ranked by the amount of carbon dioxide that would be emitted into the atmosphere if all their reserves were to be burned.
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Croatan Forum l Croatan Institute, October 2-4 2018, Durham, NC

Total Impact Boston l Good Capital Project, October 4-5, 2018, Boston, MA

2018 Investing for Impact Symposium | High Water Women, October 17, 2018, New York, NY

Ethical Finance 2018 | Responsible Investor, UKIFC, Scottish Government, UNDP, and RBS, October 22-23, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland

The 29th Annual SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2018, Colorado Springs, CO

Endowment & Foundation Forum 2018 l Opal Group, November 13, 2018

RI Americas l Responsible Investor, December 5-6, 2018

2019 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 27-29, 2019, Fort Lauderdale, FL

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ

2019 Endowment and Debt Management Forum l NACUBO, February 13-15, 2019, New York, NY