Ethical Investing News/Commentaries:
Commentaries by Ron
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Products Tripling And Doubling Each Year In US.
"Research ranging from product launches to retail
sales shows that green products are staying strong,
with long-time green companies like Seventh
Generation seeing strong sales and mainstream
companies launching more green lines, AdAge reports.
Companies have launched 458 products that claim to
be 'sustainable,' 'environmentally friendly' or 'eco
friendly,' according to Datamonitor's Product Launch
Analytics. If that trend continues there'll be 1,570
new green products launched this year, triple the
amount launched in 2008, which saw double the amount
launched in 2007." Economically difficult times
may dent green product growth rates, but the green
trend in products and services is set to continue.
Green Product Trends: More Launches, More Sales,
April 24, 2009, GreenBiz.com, USA.
Big US Power
Users Such As PepsiCo & Whole Foods Market Get All
Their Power From Alternative Energy Sources.
If you are looking for the best socially responsible
stocks to invest in, you might get an idea of some
companies to look at by reviewing the data in this
National Top 50, April 2009, Green Power
Partnership--Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
Have Invested More Than $106 Billion In Ethical
Investments Since 2006.
"The Social Investment Organization, in a report
to be released today, said 'assets invested
according to socially responsible guidelines'
increased to $609-billion in the past two years, a
gain of 21 per cent from $503-billion in its 2006
survey... 'Obviously assets are likely lower along
with the whole market,' executive director Eugene Ellmen said. 'But I think the important thing is the
proportion of the market for socially responsible
investments has stayed firm at just under 20 per
cent. There's no reason to believe that has
changed.'" Congratulations to all those at the
Social Investment Organization for doing this
research and proving that Canadians are truly
interested in ethical investing.
Ethical investing makes strides, by Steve
Ladurantaye, April 30, 2009, The Globe & Mail,
Canada. To see full report,
Management Adopts ESG Policies.
"'Sometime ago we designed the TD Asset
Management Global Sustainability Strategy, a global
equity approach that invests in companies that
contribute to the world’s future sustainability,'
says Barbara Palk, president, TD Asset Management.
'Where environmental, social and corporate
governance factors are key drivers of financial
value for that Global Sustainability Strategy, they
should be part of our analysis for all our
investment mandates. Our Sustainable Investing
Policy lays out our approach, and builds on our long
history of promoting good governance at the
companies in which we invest.'” Environmental,
Social and governance (ESG) issues should be
incorporated in all investment analysis. It is good
to see another major player getting on-board.
TD Asset Management adopts Sustainable Investing
Policy, April 29, 2009, Investment Executive,
That Mexican Swine Flu May Have Originated In
Smithfield's Massive Mexican Hog Operations.
"Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork
packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak?
Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations
Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the
outbreak originated. The operations, grouped
under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas
Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to
the company Web site. On Friday, the U.S.
disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a
timeline of the outbreak containing this
nugget, dated April 6... "Such massive hog
operations have been a cause of worry for many
years. Ethical investors just might want to
re-evaluate any holdings in such meat operators.
Swine-flu outbreak could be linked to Smithfield
factory farms, by Tom Philpott, April 25, 2009,
Shariah Fund Attracts Mostly Non-Muslims.
"The Shariah fund called Taurus Ethical Fund
launched by Taurus Asset Management Company has
attracted bulk of the investment from the
non-Muslims. It is the country's first actively
managed equity oriented Shariah compliant
diversified fund. Waqar Naqvi, chief executive,
Taurus Asset Management Co said about 70
percent of the corpus has come from non-Muslims."
The hunger for quality religious and ethical funds
will only continue to grow worldwide as ethics,
environmental, social, and governance issues come to
Shariah fund a hit with non-Muslims, April
24, 2009, The Times of India, India.
Creating ESG Bank Profiles On World's Major Banks.
"The bank profiles aim to provide both bank
campaigners and professional observers of bank
activities a ‘one stop’ overview of the state of
sustainability commitments of banks. The profiles
feature key facts, all relevant voluntary ESG
commitments, internal ESG policies, possible Equator
Principles commitments, as well as a rating of the
quality of all ESG commitments in a number of key
sectors and on key issues." This will be one
site to regularly visit if you are interested in
socially conscious banks.
BankTrack re-launches bank profiles section on
website, April 23, 2009, Netherlands.
Says Financial Sector Fares Badly In Managing ESG
"The financial sector is the worst performer in
terms of managing environmental, social and
governance (ESG) risks, and has shown the least
improvement over the last three years, according to
a study from Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS).
The UK-based research company examined how 2,200
companies in the FTSE All-World Index managed ESG
risks, comparing the results with data from 2005."
Financial stocks often have the largest
weightings in many ethical funds. Ethical
investors just might want to review those
Financial sector lagging badly on ESG – EIRIS,
April 23, 2009, Environmental Finance, UK. To
see actual study,
Publishes Its 2009 Edition Of The World's Most
"This year, 99 companies made the
cut. Twenty companies dropped off the list from last
year, and 25 companies were newcomers. A remarkable
44 companies are “three-peats,” making the list for
the past three years." No-doubt that
Ethisphere has a robust selection criterion. But
when the top three companies cited are all in the US
aerospace and defence industries, their criteria
just do not sit right with me.
World’s Most Ethical Companies, April 2009,
More Data On
Growth Of Ethical UK Banks.
"Consumers have been flocking to
ethical alternatives in the banking sector in recent
months, including the old mutual building societies.
Triodos, (Ethiscore 14.5/20) saw its number of
customers grow by a quarter in 2008, and Ecology
Building Society (Ethiscore 16/20) has seen a vast
increase in savings deposited since the crunch,
building on a 10% increase in 2007. Britannia
Building Society, currently merging with the Co-op
Group to form a "super-mutual", noted that 140,000
new savings accounts had been opened in the quarter
to February." As the ethical lapses of many
mainstream banks become ever more apparent, people
are moving in increasing numbers to socially
Ethical banks cash in after trouble on the high
street, by Tim Hunt, April 20, 2009, The
Shows Genetically Modified Crops Fail To
Significantly Increase Yields.
"For years, the biotechnology industry has trumpeted
that it will feed the world, promising that its
genetically engineered crops will produce higher
yields. That promise has proven to be empty,
according to a new report by the Union of Concerned
Scientists (UCS). Despite 20 years of research and
13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering
has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop
yields." Personally, I believe that organic
farming methods and industries associated with them
are the future.
Genetic Engineering Has Failed to Significantly
Boost U.S. Crop Yields Despite Biotech Industry
Claims, April 14, 2009, Union of Concerned
Farming Avoided 40M Pounds Of Fertilizer In 2008:
"Organic food is often touted for the lack of toxic
pesticides and fertilizers used in its production.
Now a Colorado-based nonprofit has created a
calculator that estimates the amount of chemicals
avoided through organic dairy farming in the U.S.
According to the Organic Center, organic milk
production in the U.S. avoided some 40 million
pounds of fertilizer in 2008. The 761,000 acres of
organic feed cropland or organic pasture also dodged
the use of 758,000 pounds of pesticides. Cows also
given 1.7 million fewer drug treatments, including
antibiotics and hormones." Here is more proof
that organic farming methods are the way of the
Organic Dairy Farming Avoided 40M Pounds of
Fertilizer in 2008: Report, April 13, 2009,
Fund Sales Increase Even Though Overall Fund Sales
Were Met With Redemptions.
"Sales of European SRI funds remained positive
during February this year with net inflows for the
sector of €599m and continue to buck the trend of
mainstream equity funds which saw withdrawals of
€2.8bn over the month, according to the latest
available figures compiled for Responsible Investor
by Lipper Feri, the investment data group." I
believe investors are finally realizing that ethical
stocks and bonds are likely to outperform over the
SRI funds continue to sell strongly, bucking
mainstream equity fund withdrawals, by Hugh
Wheelan, April 16, 2009, Responsible Investor,
On EU To Force Companies To Report On ESG Issues.
"The EU should force companies and institutional
investors to disclose more information on how they
are dealing with environmental, social and
governance (ESG) issues, the European Sustainable
Investment Forum (Eurosif) has said. In a position
paper sent to a list of institutions within the EU,
the network of investors, asset managers, NGOs,
trade unions and researchers calls for the European
Commission to mandate that companies report ESG data
and that institutional investors disclose how they
are taking ESG issues into account in their
investments." The best stocks that are good to
invest in are often from companies who have the most transparent ESG policies.
Eurosif calls for EU intervention on ESG disclosure,
April 16, 2009, Environmental Finance, UK.
Launched For Africa.
"The Africa Sustainability Passive Equity Fund,
offered to institutional investors by
Mauritius-based Sustainable Capital, will apply ESG
criteria to both countries as well as companies in
Africa." This is great news for Africa. It seems
that there are only a few areas of the world left
where investors do not have an ethical investing
Sustainable Investing Fund Is Launched in Africa,
by Robert Kropp, April 15, 2009, SocialFunds, USA.
GE Wins Top
Sustainability Award From Ceres.
Corporation has earned the top sustainability
reporting award at the 2009 Ceres Conference in San
Francisco, California. The winners of the
Ceres-Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
(ACCA) reporting awards also included Seventh
Generation, Ball Corporation, Symantec, the
Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter
Games and Dell Inc." This award encourages
something dear to my heart--reliable and
comprehensive environmental, social and governance
reporting. Well done GE and the other award winners.
GE Wins Award for Best Sustainability Reporting,
April 10, 2009, Environmental Leader, USA.
Discloses Carbon Footprints For US Mutual Funds.
"For the first time ever,
investors and fund managers are now able to compare
the carbon footprints of leading U.S. mutual funds,
thanks to a report released today by Trucost, the
world's foremost environmental data & research
company. The report shows that the carbon intensity
of mutual funds varies widely, with the
highest-carbon fund found to be 38 times more carbon
intensive than the fund with the smallest carbon
footprint." Useful to look at for American
"Carbon footprints" of top U.S. mutual funds
revealed in groundbreaking Trucost report, press
release, April 8, 2009, Trucost, USA.
Karmayog Announces CSR Ratings On 1,000 Indian
Karmayog is probably India's foremost
corporate social responsibility rating organization.
the Karmayog CSR Ratings of the 1000 largest Indian
companies - 2008, Karmayog, April 8, 2009,
Companies Sign-On To UN's Global Compact Between
"Significantly, China and India are now both among
the top ten countries per signatory. The Compact
said it received 1700 ‘communications on progress’ (COPs)
in 2009, up by 25% over 2007, but that 400 companies
were de-listed in 2008 for lack of progress in
implementing the Compact principles... The Compact,
launched in 2000 by Kofi Annan, former UN general
secretary, signs companies up to ten corporate
standards ranging from upholding union rights to the
abolition of child labour. Investors use corporate
adherence to the Compact as a basic standard of good
environmental, social and governance practice."
The number of companies joining the United Nations
Global Compact, by Hugh Wheelan, April 8, 2009,
Responsible Investor, UK.
New Blog Of
Interest To Ethical Investors.
"This is UKSIF’s blog on creating a robust
operating framework for sustainable and responsible
financial services. It covers laws, regulation,
fiscal measures, voluntary standards, skill
requirements and cultural norms." This could be
an important place to go for all the latest ideas on
creating a more responsible financial environment
from an ethical investment perspective.
Finance for a Sustainable Recovery, UKSIF blog,
To Mandate ESG Analysis For Its AP €80 Billion
"A report initiated by the government has also
recommended that the AP funds take what it said was
the ‘next step’ in ESG integration by developing
investment strategies that specifically incorporate
ESG aspects across all asset classes, not just
listed shares." Here we have more good news for
ethical stocks and bonds.
Sweden weighs up ESG law for euro 80bn AP funds and
‘next step’ ESG investments, by Hugh Wheelan,
April 8, 2009, Responsible Investor, UK.
As You Sow
Publishes Annual Preview of Shareowner Proposals for
"The Foundation counts more than
100 proposals on executive compensation, and reports
that health care reform has the largest increase in
proposals for the second year in a row." This is
the report to read for anyone interested in the
state of U.S. shareholder resolutions.
As You Sow Publishes Annual Preview of Shareowner
Proposals for 2009, by Robert Kropp, April 6,
2009, SocialFunds.com, USA.
Emerge To Tackle Climate Change.
"Hundreds of new insurance initiatives, including
coverage for green buildings, renewable energy,
carbon risk management, and officers’ liability are
being offered to tackle climate change and rising
weather-related losses in the U.S. and globally,
according to a major new report released today by
the Ceres investor coalition." Ethical investors
interested in insurance industry stocks that are
good to invest in might want to review report.
Hundreds of New Insurance Initiatives Emerging to
Tackle Climate Change and Rising Weather Losses,
press release, April 2, 2009, Ceres, USA.
& Tech Investment Falls.
"... research group New Energy Finance said
first-quarter investment in so-called clean energy
fell 44 percent from the fourth quarter of last
year, which in the immediate aftermath of the credit
crisis wasn’t exactly stellar itself... The $13.3
billion of investment in the most recent quarter was
53 percent below the same quarter of last year, the
group said." The fall in this sector parallels
that of venture capital investment in this area as
well. (See below.)
Dark days for renewable energy, by Nichola
Groom, April 3, 2009, Reuters, USA.
Ethics Pays Off.
"While its listed competitors struggled, profits
at the [Co-op Bank]... rose from £50.4m to £85.6m in
the year to January 10. Retail customer deposit
balances were up 17 per cent, corporate deposits
rose 27 per cent to £14.6bn and mortgage and
corporate lending rose a quarter to £12.2bn."
Ethically oriented, socially conscious banks mostly
did very well in 2008. Big mainstream banks have
still a lot to learn!
Co-op Bank outshines rivals, by Andrew Bounds,
April 2, 2009, Financial Times, UK.
Energy Agency (IEA) Says Grain Ethanol Better Than
Gasoline For Environment.
"... greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from corn
ethanol are now some 39 percent less than
gasoline... 'A lot of the stories circulating (about
corn ethanol) in the past year were relying on
sources that were very old and were inaccurate,”
said Robin Speer, vice president public affairs,
Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA)... the
data people were using was from the late 80s and
90s. Farming practices today are extremely different
than how it was back then,' he told the Cleantech
Group today... The IEA, a 36-year old
intergovernmental organization... advises its 28
member countries on energy policy, commissioned the
study." It looks like the 'corn wars' are going
to a new level.
Grain ethanol strikes back, by Lizette Wilson
Chapman, April 1, 2009, USA.
Venture Investment Globally Drops 41% In Q1/09 From
"... the $1 billion raised across 82 companies
during the quarter ending March 31, 2009 is 48
percent less than the amount raised in the same
period last year... [research by the] Cleantech
Group in cooperation with Deloitte."
Unsurprisingly, the market downturn has decreased
funds going into cleantech. However, with Obama's
green stimulus package, cleantech investment could
Cleantech investment drops but stimulus funds soar
in 1Q09, by Lizette Wilson Chapman,
Leading Socially Responsible Investing Organizations
Call On G20 To Incorporate Sustainability & Social
Responsibility In Stimulus Packages.
"As the umbrella organizations for the
sustainable and responsible finance industry
worldwide, we call on world leaders to respond to
this challenge by incorporating sustainability and
social responsibility measures into both the
economic stimulus packages for short-term recovery
and the longer-term reform of the credit and
investment markets." Now is the time for the
world to focus on sustainability and an ethical
Transforming global capital markets, joint press
release by the Social Investment Organization
(Canada), Social Investment Forum (USA), UK Social
Investment Forum, European Sustainable Investment
Forum, Association for Sustainable & Responsible
Investment Asia, and the Responsible Investment
Association Australasia, April 1, 2009.
Sustainability Reporting In Canada.
"Corporate Sustainability Reporting in Canada is
a survey conducted by the Canadian Financial
Executives Research Foundation ("CFERF") of 343
senior financial executives in conjunction with the
conclusions reached through an Executive Research
Forum held on May 28, 2008." Thank you to the
Social Investment Organization for alerting us to
CFERF executive research report,
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