Ethical Investing News/Commentaries:
Commentaries by Ron
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Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Research Team
Cut At Citi. -
"Industry sources said they had been told that
the SRI team, which earlier this month scooped the
award for the best European SRI broker firm in the
Thomson Reuters Extel/UKSIF
Responsible Investing & Sustainability Survey, is
being cut." Apparently, it's all part of
Axe to fall on top-rated Citi SRI research team,
by Hugh Wheelan, November 28, 2008, Responsible
Change Poll Shows Environment Tops Economy.
"The environment remains a top concern for people
around the world despite the financial crisis,
according to a global poll by the HSBC Climate
Partnership, which includes HSBC, The Climate Group,
Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research
Institute and WWF. The new poll... finds that 43 per
cent see climate change as a bigger problem than the
economy." This is good news for green stocks
which have taken a beating recently.
Surveys call for Unity to Combat Climate Change,
November 27, 2008, UNEP, Kenya.
Groups Propose Massive Green Spending In Major
Report Delivered To President-Elect Obama.
"It [the report] calls for the creation of jobs
in the renewable energy sector, building
weatherization, a retooled auto industry, investment
in infrastructure like public transportation, and
major improvements to the electrical grid. The
guidelines also detail what can be done in every
executive branch agency, department, and office on a
number of other environmental issues."
It will be fascinating to see exactly how the new US
president reacts to this report. Obviously, his
reaction and that of his new administration, could
have a dramatic effect on the fortunes of
green-ethical stocks and bonds.
Transition talk: A 391-page green gorilla in the
room, by Kate Sheppard, November 25, 2008,
Greenpeace Guide To Greener Electronics. -
The 'greenest' top four electronics companies
according to their report are: Nokia, Sony Ericson,
Toshiba and Samsung. If you are looking for
green-electronics stocks that are good to invest in,
this Greenpeace ranking is a good place to start.
Guide to greener electronics, November 2008,
Socially Responsible Investing Pioneer, Passes On.
Joan was one of the greats in socially responsible
investing. Among her accomplishments: she co-founded
the US Social Investment Forum in 1981; became
chairman of CERES--the corporate environmental
organization; started Trillium Asset Management; and
played a key role in developing the Global Reporting
Initiative (GRI)--a reporting methodology that
numerous companies use in their environmental,
social and governance (ESG) reporting.
Ceres Honors the
Life of its Visionary Founder Joan Bavaria,
November 25, 2008, CERES, USA.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards.
"This year's awards attracted 170 entries
representing 120 companies from 15 countries."
The winners include Microsoft Philippines, Johnson &
Johnson Philippines, and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd.
Announcing the Winners of the Asian CSR Awards -
Asia's foremost CSR Awards programme, November
24, 2008, China Newswire, China.
Intelligence Unit Report Says Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) Can Be A Winning Formula For
The advantage of using corporate social
responsibility to promote corporate activities and
to potentially improve financial results is cited in
this new report.
Corporate citizenship: Profiting from a sustainable
business, November 2008, Economist Intelligence
Environmental Reports Win Awards. -
"Companies that publish longer environmental
reports tend to earn more awards, companies in low
carbon-intense sectors put out longer reports and
almost all companies fail to define key
sustainability terms, according to a study of
corporate reports.... [The study by] Spada
hopes its white paper, Environmental Reporting:
Trends in FTSE 100 Sustainability Reports, spurs
further research and discussion on sustainability
reporting." For my thoughts on corporate social
responsibility reporting see my editorial:
We Need Mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility
Longer Sustainability Reports Win Awards,
Carbon-Intense Companies Report Less, November
18, 2008, UK.
Canada, Will Likely Join The UK, France, Germany,
Sweden & Belgium In Requiring Pension Funds To
Reveal Their Handling Of Environmental, Social &
Governance (ESG) Issues Concerning Their Investments.
This is continuing great news for all of us
advocating the integration of ESG issues into
mainstream investment analysis and portfolio
As a result, the prospects for ethical stocks and bonds
look great over the longer-term.
releases pension report, confirms importance of ESG
considerations, November 20, 2008, SHARE,
Lack Of Trust
In Traditional Banks Spurring Interest In Ethical
Traditional banks, particularly in the USA and
Europe, have lost the confidence of many of their
customers who are increasingly switching to ethical
RPT-FEATURE-Not promising the earth, ethical banks
win custom, by Ingrid Melander and Lorraine
Turner, November 20, 2008, Reuters,
Most Admired Corporate Cultures. -
See the following press release by Waterstone Human
Capital for the ten winners.
Announcing Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate
Cultures(TM), 2008, November 19, 2008, CSRWire,
Charles Working On 'Pension Plan For The Planet.'
"... as part of the Prince’s Rainforests
Project... an international agency to raise funds by
offering 15-year rainforest bonds with competitive
returns. The bonds would be guaranteed by developed
nations and the interest and principal could be
repaid from a share of income from future carbon
markets, potentially including rainforests, by prior
agreement with rainforest-nation governments."
The Prince has always shown a keen interest in the
environment and it is most welcome to see him lead
on this front!
Prince Charles to propose ‘pension plan for the
planet,’ by Hugh Wheelan, November 19, 2008,
Responsible Investor, UK.
FORTUNE & AccountAbility List Their Top Ten
"Fortune partnered with AccountAbility,
Csrnetwork and Asset4 to rank the world's 100
largest corporations by the quality of their
commitment to social and environmental goals."
The ten companies that most understand and utilize
the advantages of using corporate social
responsibility, according to this analysis, are:
Vodafone, General Electric, HSBC, France Telecom,
HBOS, Nokia, EDF, Suez, BP, and Royal Dutch/Shell.
10 most 'accountable' big companies, November
14, 2008, FORTUNE, USA.
FTSE & IMPAX
Expand Their Offerings Of Environmental Indices.
"[They] include benchmarks tracking the
performance of investments in water technology
firms, waste and pollution management companies,
firms specialising in energy efficiency, and
renewable energy developers." One idea behind
the new indices is for investors to more easily
determine which subsectors of cleantech perform best
over time. They also might help ethical investors
find the best individual environmental stocks that
are good to invest in too.
FTSE debuts nine new environmental indices, by
James Murray, November 17, 2008, BusinessGreen,
Ruth Sunderland Lists Her Best & Worst Companies In
Guardian Newspaper. -
Always insightful, this annual review is worth
looking at for anyone interested in ethical
investing. It comprises a series of articles.
The Observer Good Companies Guide, by Ruth
Sunderland, November 16, 2008, The Observer,
UK. (On list, go to her November 16, 2008,
Begins To Issue Environmental Bonds. -
"The bond is the first product of a wider Bank
effort, in collaboration with large institutional
investors, to direct large-scale institutional money
to tackling climate change. The Bank has raised
around $300 million in Swedish krona-denominated
six-year bonds, sold by Swedish bank SEB to
Scandinavian institutional investors." Many
groups around the world are advocating for such
bonds and socially conscious banks everywhere are
likely to begin issuing them.
World Bank issues first ‘green’ bond, November
12, 2008, Environmental Finance, UK.
About Shariah Finance Continues In US. -
Advocates speak of Shariah finance as a form of
ethical investing. Opponents are concerned that it
could be controlled by, as well as provide financing
to, terrorist organizations. Shariah finance now
involves about $1 trillion in assets and growing by
as much as 15% a year. It is now a force to be
reckoned with and both the UK and USA authorities
want their respective financial markets to be open
U.S. Interest in Shariah Finance Opens Dangerous
Doors, Critics Say, November 13, 2008, Fox
Bank Sarasin Confirms Positive Impact Of
Sustainability On Share Performance. -
"Based on data provided by Bank Sarasin,
statistical analyses performed by the Centre for
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at the
University of Zurich (CCRS) in cooperation with the
Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and the
Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)
Mannheim, Germany, confirm that sustainable
investment is a winning strategy."
Sustainability has definitely become a key component
in the ethical stocks and bonds paradigm.
Green investing proves a winning strategy - study,
by Martin de Sa'Pinto,
November 13, 2008, Reuters, Switzerland.
Finds Most Large Companies Fail To Understand &
Account For Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG)
"The report categorizes companies according to
risk in the areas of human rights, labor standards
in the supply chain, environment, climate change,
and bribery and corruption. With the exception of
management of environmental risks, in which over 50%
of high-impact companies demonstrated a good
management response, high-risk companies have
largely failed to mitigate risks in any area."
It seems that the boards of many companies still
have their heads in the sand. I believe that as our
financial system evolves with ESG factors and the
evolution of corporate social responsibility
reporting become increasingly important to analysts
and investors, corporate boards will need to get
more engaged to understand their full risk profile.
Otherwise, investors will price-in those
indeterminate risks and the company's stock price
Report Finds That Most Corporations Fail to Address
Risks That Threaten Long-Term Profitability,
November 12, 2008, by Robert Kropp, SocialFunds,
USA. For actual report:
The State of Responsible Business in 2008:
Implications for PRI signatories, October 2008,
Social Responsibility (CSR) To Thrive Under
"... nearly nine out of 10 survey respondents
believe U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama will have
a positive impact on advancing the corporate
responsibility agenda." A few weeks ago I
carried a link to a study that found CSR flourishes
more under Democratic administrations than
Republican ones. This obviously seems to be believed
by US business leaders today.
Nearly 9 Out of 10 Business Leaders Believe U.S.
President-Elect Obama will Help Advance the
Corporate Responsibility Agenda, press release,
November 10, 2008, Business for Social
78% Of US
Voters Support Clean Energy Investments To
Revitalize The Economy. -
"Fifty-seven percent of all age groups surveyed
said it was important to them in this election to
back candidates who supported reducing
greenhouse-gas emissions, compared to 49 percent in
2006. And 60 percent said they wanted their elected
officials to make global warming a high priority,
compared to 58 percent in 2006." The poll by
Zogby International was commissioned by the National
Wildlife Federation. From this poll -- and others --
it is clear that President-elect Obama has
significant public support for a green energy
infrastructure stimulus package.
Poll dancing, by Kate Sheppard, November 9,
2008, grist, USA.
FairPensions Says F&C, Insight, Hermes, and Aviva Investors
Lead In UK Responsible Investment Practices.
"The bottom five, starting with the poorest ESG
performer, were Credit Suisse, Artemis, Scottish
Widows, State Street and Goldman Sachs. FairPensions
said bottom of the table managers often gave no
indication of any coherent approach to ESG and some
failed to meet industry best practices such as the
UK combined code on corporate governance." This
is an extremely insightful look into responsible
investment policies and environmental, social and
governance (ESG) issues as they are dealt with among
UK investment firms.
ESG improvements, but ‘striking’ disparity between
best and worst UK managers: FairPensions, by
Hugh Wheelan, November 10, 2008, Responsible
Click here for asset managers rankings.
And for the
FairPensions Investor Responsibility report, UK.
Bank Bailouts Significantly Increasing 'Moral
"The global response to the credit crisis has
actively encouraged moral hazard – the belief that
financial services companies will take more risk if
they think that governments will step in and bail
them out – according to 64% of respondents from the
institutional investment industry to a survey by the
Network for Sustainable Financial Markets (NSFM)...
As a result, just 7% of the investment specialists
who answered the open survey during October said
they believed the response to the crisis should come
fascinating results representing the views of
investment professionals in the green/ethical
investing industry. They certainly contrast markedly
with those of the mainstream financial elites who
begged for government bail-outs!
Bank chiefs more responsible for credit crisis than
governments: investor survey, by Hugh Wheelan,
November 10, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.
Industry Growth. -
This review of the organic food industry in the USA
and Europe shows impressive growth numbers. However,
growth in the USA has stalled recently due to the
recession. Still, ethical investors interested in
this subject will want to see this press release
from BioFach, the world's largest organic foods fair
exhibitor. The next fair is to be held in Germany,
February 19-22, 2009 with 2,900 exhibitors!
Constant growth of worldwide organic markets,
press release, BioFach, Germany.
Investment Research, Société Générale, and Cheuvreux,
Rated Tops In Europe For Socially Responsible
Investment (SRI) Research. -
"The [Thomson Reuters Extel/UKSIF 2008 Socially
Responsible Investing & Sustainability Survey]... is considered an industry benchmark in
European buy-side and sell-side developments,
represents the views of over 300 investment
professionals from 19 countries."
Thomson Reuters Extel names Europe’s best SRI
research and fund management houses, November 6,
2008, by Hugh Wheelan, Responsible Investor,
Investing Can Prevent Severe Recession Says Deutsche
I believe President-elect Obama really understands
this message and that with his influence the US will
spend massively on green energy and infrastructure.
In my opinion, his promised $15 billion a year for
this is just a start. Governments all-over the world
will see such investment as giving them a potential
lead in what is likely to be one of the world's
biggest future industries.
Deutsche Bank: "Green Investment Can Prevent Severe
Recession," November 4, lohas.com, USA.
Nations Principles of Responsible Investment Sees
Big Funds Signing-Up To It's Six Principles.
"In the past month alone, owners representing
more than $1,500bn (£914bn, €1,160bn) of assets have
signed up to the six principles of better long-term
equity ownership, bringing the total above
$18,000bn." Increasingly, huge institutional
investors are backing ethical investing principles.
This will make ethical stocks and bonds even more
attractive over the long term.
Investors sign up to a better world, by Sophia
Grene, November 2, 2008, FT.com, UK. (Site may
require you to sign-up for free subscription.)
KPMG Says US Companies Issuing Sustainability
Reports Have Doubled Since 2005. -
"Of the top 100 U.S. companies by revenue, 74
percent published corporate responsibility (CR)
information in 2008 either as part of their annual
financial report or as a separate document, up from
37 percent in KPMG International’s 2005 research.
Globally, 80 percent of the Global Fortune 250
companies now release CR data, up from 64 percent in
the last KPMG International analysis in 2005."
Apparently, the primary driver behind companies
issuing sustainability reports is ethics! In 2005,
economics was the driver. If you have not done so, I
recommend you read my editorial,
We Need Mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility
KPMG Analysis Shows Number of U.S. Companies
Reporting Sustainability Data Has Doubled Since
2005, October 27, 2008, KPMG, USA.
Investments Taking A Hit. -
"The ethanol producers' lush, green fields are
turning into Death Valley. An industry that should
never have thrived is getting its comeuppance."
The journalist covering this story reports on a
number of big stock busts among companies in the
industry. Bill Gates has experienced big losses in
one of these producers as well.
Ethanol producers' unworthy heyday finally over,
by Eric Reguly, November 3, 2008, The Globe &
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