Weekly News Round-Up, September 9th, 2016

General ESG / Sustainable / Impact Investing

UN Body: 'Drop the Jargon on Green Investment' l Financial News, By: Andrew Pearce, September 5th, 2016 
  • The Principles for Responsible Investment, a UN-backed body that represents about $60 trillion in assets, has told pension funds to steer clear of jargon such as "ESG" when talking to fund managers. Justin Sloggett, author of the report and a senior manager at the PRI, said: “It is important to refer to a [specific] ESG issue as much as possible, such as cyber risk or water scarcity. By doing so, fund managers and analysts may [start to] actually integrate ESG issues without realizing.”

What Big Data Says About ESG l Chief Investment Officer, By: Amy Whyte, September 6th, 2016 

  • This article discusses the findings of a paper commissioned by the Environment Agency Pension Fund (EAPF). Henley Business School professor and data scientist Andreas Hoepner explored the effects of ESG investing—and divestment from “sin stocks” in particular—on the risk and returns of a portfolio. “[Data science] is not only crucial for potential divestment of sin stocks, but also for investing purely in environmentally responsible firms,” he concluded. “While financial economists would expect that this should increase portfolio risk, it is actually significantly reducing the worse case risk of investable pension fund portfolios.” 


Could The New Morningstar Sustainability Ratings Actually Change Corporate Responsibility? l Kitces.com, By: Michael Kitces, September 7th, 2016

  • Morningstar Sustainability Ratings is making it feasible to tilt any portfolio towards sustainable investing. With Morningstar’s Sustainability Rating applied to upwards of 20,000 different funds (both mutual funds and ETFs), investors and advisors can screen out the lowest-rated funds or focus exclusively on highly rated funds. This rating system makes sustainable investing more accessible to a wide range of potential investors.
  • S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI), one of the world's leading index providers, and RobecoSAM, the investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing (SI), today announced the results of the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) review. The three largest additions by free-float market capitalization are Cisco Systems Inc, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and Adobe Systems Inc. Largest deletions (by free-float market capitalization) to the DJSI World this year include Intel Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, and British American Tobacco PLC.
Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance, September 8th, 2016
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief discusses how asset managers BlackRock Inc., The Vanguard Group Inc. and Bank of New York Mellon, despite their commitments to sustainable investing, did not back an ExxonMobil Corp. shareholder proposal this year that would have asked the oil giant to disclose long-term risks to its business from climate change policies. An in depth article focusing on whether or not ExxonMobil can be found liable for misleading the public on climate change is also featured.  
A Guide to Impact Investing l Financial Times Adviser, September 8th, 2016
  • This guide covers the origins of impact investment and its growth in the US and the UK; whether it is able to make the leap from high-net worth investors to mass affluent retail investors; how retail investors might be able to use impact investments or seek suitable alternatives; and ways advisers and clients can measure the actual impact and performance of such funds.

Climate Risk, Science & Regulation
Climate Looms Large on Investment Risk Radar l In The Black, By: Mark Phillips, September 8th, 2016
  • According to a study by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, only 34% of investors understand the international targets set to avert dangerous levels of global warming, and just 20% believe sufficient information exists to properly analyse corporate exposure to climate change. In March this year the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures identified the core principles for effective disclosure in climate risk reporting that will underpin its recommendations, to be released publicly in February 2017.
Obama on Climate Change: The Trends are 'Terrifying' l The New York Times, By: Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Mark Landler, and Coral Davenport, September 8th, 2016
  • In an exclusive interview on his legacy, President Obama speaks to The New York Times on climate change and related policies while visiting a Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
A Roadmap for Climate Savvy Investing l NASDAQ, By: Isabelle Mateos y Lago, September 8th, 2016
  • This article introduces a new paper titled "Adapting Portfolios to Climate Change," published by The BlackRock Investment Institute and described as a roadmap for climate-savvy investing. The paper details how climate change presents market risks and opportunities, how these factors are likely to play out for long- and short-term investors, and well as how all investors can take advantage of a growing array of climate-related investment tools and strategies to manage risk, seek excess returns or improve market exposure. 
Fossil Fuel Divestment
Student Activists Want the University of Virginia to Divest From Fossil Fuel Companies l The Daily Progress, By: Derek Quizon, September 3rd, 2016
  • For the past two years the University of Viginia's divestment group (Divest UVa) has lobbied members of the administration and the Board of Visitors to consider fossil fuel divestment. Last month the Board of Visitors agreed to begin discussions about the issue in committee. 
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Commits to Divesting its Fossil Fuel Shares l ABC News Australia, By: Nick Kilvert, September 5, 2016
  • After an ongoing campaign by Fossil Free QUT calling for the University to divest from fossil fuels, Vice-chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake sent a statement via email last week informing staff of the decision to steer investments away from coal, oil, and gas companies. QUT joins Australian National University, La Trobe University and the University of Sydney as major Australian universities to commit to fossil fuel divestment.
Barnard's Fossil Fuel Divestment Decision Likely to be More Symbolic Than Financial l Columbia Spectator, By: J. Clara Chan, September 8th, 2016
  • Barnard’s board of trustees will vote this spring whether or not to divest the college’s endowment from fossil fuels—but no matter the outcome, the decision will largely be a symbolic, rather than financial, move for Barnard. The Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment, which was created in January following calls from student activist group Divest Barnard for the college to divest, is set to compile a report by the end of this month detailing what the economic impacts of divestment would be on the college. “The task force is a result of the divestment campaign, but it's also all of these different elements of the college coming together and talking about sustainability, and that in and of itself is something we didn't use to have,” a Divest Barnard member said.
Clean Energy
  • As part of the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and Second Nature announce the release of three case studies highlighting higher education investment in solar energy projects. The purpose of the case studies is to showcase working financial models for universities and other higher education institutions to invest in solar energy on campus. Not only can onsite solar projects offer cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions to these institutions, they can also provide research and training opportunities, investment diversification, and a way to show their commitment to the next generation. 
Private Prison Divestment
New York City Pension Fund to Explore Divesting From Private Prison Companies l  Pensions & Investments, By: Robert Steyer, September 8th, 2016
  • Trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, one of five pension funds within the $163.1 billion New York City Retirement Systems, voted unanimously Thursday to study divesting its stock holdings in companies that run private prisons. “We believe the time has come to study whether our holdings in private prisons meet both our fiduciary standard as well as our standard to invest responsibly,” city Comptroller Scott Stringer, a trustee of NYCERS, said in a news release. "My fellow trustees and I will carefully review these findings and take action accordingly.

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