E-newsletter of Investing for the Soul December 30, 2014
Top ethical investing news for December 2014
Links may only be valid a limited time Commentaries by Ron Robins
Twitter allows me to cover more--and breaking news--to help you do better!
Climate report reveals which companies have been naughty or nice. "Thomson Reuters this week released its latest report (PDF) on the greenhouse gas emission patterns of the global 500, which reveals a mixed bag of environmental efforts and encompasses companies in diverse industries. The biggest emitters include household names concentrated in the energy and manufacturing fields."
[COMMENTARY] This article is a good
one to read. Ethical investors might want to review some of their
holdings in light of this report.
Study Finds Institutional Investors, Proxy Advisors Fail to Use Economic Value Creation as Major Factor in Say-on-Pay Voting. "Economic value creation is not a major factor in institutional investors' Say-on-Pay voting, nor in the recommendations of the two largest proxy advisors that counsel investors how to vote. The research reveals that there is no material difference between institutional investors' Say-on-Pay voting for those companies that create economic value as compared to those that destroy value."
[COMMENTARY] I'm not surprised by
this finding as those promoting say-on-pay mostly want to restrain
executive compensation, no matter the company's financial position.
However, the underlying premise of this report seems to be that
executive compensation should be related to the company's underlying
economic/financial position both now and in the future. I agree with
both points of view.
Bloomberg Markets Strategies: Finding Value in Good Governance. "Stoxx Europe 600 companies with higher-than-average female representation on their boards have outperformed the overall index by 13 percentage points since 2008. Global oil companies with leading safety records returned 63 percent in the five years through September 2014, double those with higher incident rates. Those examples highlight why investors and executives are embracing the importance of environmental, social and governance issues and how they can affect a company’s reputation and performance. "
[COMMENTARY] That last sentence says
it all. But I'll continue to harp about the majority of
financial/investment advisors who are blind to this information and not
representing their clients' interests!
New York fracking ban reverberates nationally. (Bans fracking due to health and environmental risks!) "New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens recommended the ban Wednesday after reviewing the results of Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker’s long-awaited report on the potential health effects of fracking. 'I asked myself, would I let my family live in a community with fracking? The answer is no,' Zucker said in a statement. 'I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.'"
[COMMENTARY] Finally, some reputable
public health authority has reviewed the respective environmental and
health risks related to fracking. And they've considered it too risky.
Many European countries also have come to the same conclusion. It'll be
informative and unfortunate to see the resultant health and
environmental problems from fracking in the states that have so
vigorously promoted it. Furthermore, as everyone realizes, should the
low prices of oil and gas continue, the growth of the fracking industry
is likely to stall or even decline in the years ahead.
State of Corporate Citizenship Finds Executive Support for Corporate Citizenship. "The Carroll School of Management Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College... finds that executives believe that corporate citizenship contributes to success, and plan to increase their investment in the future...
The 2014 State of Corporate Citizenship key findings include:
[COMMENTARY] Executives are
increasingly finding that CSR pays. Aside from ESG/CSR actions taken
internally frequently showing demonstrable financial benefits, such
actions also enhance a company’s overall reputation, benefiting all
aspects of its operations -- including its stock price. Thank you Boston
College for this insightful research.
Green Investors Flunk Fracking Industry on Impact Management. "ExxonMobil, Chevron, and WPX Energy are ranked among the worst fracking companies in a new report by a coalition of green investment firms that scores major oil and gas firms on their efforts to reduce the negative impacts of their operations."
[COMMENTARY] According to this
“Disclosing the Facts 2014: Risk and Transparency in Hydraulic
Fracturing,” the fracking industry is getting away with massive
un-reporting and misrepresentation concerning environmental degradation
and destruction. America's desire to be energy self-sufficient is
allowing it to overlook the full health and environmental consequences
of fracking. With low oil prices likely restraining fracking industry
growth, perhaps some breathing room will be found to consider the
potential health and environment effects of fracking. Meanwhile, most
ethical investors stay clear of this industry for good reason.
European investors stepping up responsible investment strategies. "European asset owners are increasingly moving towards responsible investment strategies, according to a new survey that shows 72% of investors have drawn up formal responsible investment policies, an increase of 7% on 2013.
Novethic published the survey at its annual event in Paris. It questioned 185 long-term investors, with over €6 trillion (£4.7tn) in assets in 13 European countries about their commitment to integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into asset management."
[COMMENTARY] The survey's findings
are impressive and continue to point to mainstream asset managers
accepting that ESG analysis adds to returns. If only investment advisors
and brokers were so knowledgeable!
Green Bonds to reach $100 billion in 2015. "Delegates from Spain, France, UK, Portugal and the Netherlands have gathered at the Green Bonds International Conference on yesterday in Madrid, organized by the sustainability experts SUST4IN. The number and variety of attendees at the conference can be explained by the fact that the market for green bonds has tripled this year to 35bn USD, including in Spain, and should reach 100bn USD in 2015, according to the forecasts of most of the speakers."
[COMMENTARY] The issuance of green
bonds is exploding. The above projection is made by an authoritative
figure, Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative. This is
tremendous news for ethical investors who'll now have many new fixed
income investment options.
Oil Investors at Brink of Losing Trillions of Dollars in Assets. Gore: It's That Road Runner Moment. "A major threat to fossil fuel companies has suddenly moved from the fringe to center stage with a dramatic announcement by Germany’s biggest power company and an intriguing letter from the Bank of England... Bank of England Governor Mark Carney... instructed his staff to review whether sizable losses from stranded coal, oil and gas reserves could hurt banks, investors, insurance companies and the rest of the financial system."
[COMMENTARY] When the Governor of
the Bank of England is concerned about the potential for stranded
(fossil fuel) assets to adversely impact the financial system, you know
that the economic and political elites are worried. Actually, the
stranded assets scenario--the writing-down of fossil fuel
reserves--might also happen because of the current oil glut and very low
Ontario requiring pension funds to report their ESG policies and practices. "The statement of investment policies and procedures shall include information as to whether environmental, social and governance factors are incorporated into the plan’s investment policies and procedures and, if so, how those factors are incorporated."
[COMMENTARY] This is an important
new step for ethical investing in Canada. It's likely that all the other
Canadian provinces and territories will follow Ontario's lead.
Concordia becomes first Canadian university to begin divesting from fossil fuels. "However small or tentative this first step may be, Concordia University now has the distinction of saying it is the first university in the country to have initiated the process of divesting from fossil fuels... But while some student groups welcomed this as a step in the right direction, Divest Concordia has called it a 'flat-out rejection of student calls for full divestment from fossil fuels.'"
[COMMENTARY] Though small, it is a
beginning. It could serve as 'wake-up' call for other Canadian
universities. The 'ice is broken' so it'll encourage other university
divestment groups and campaigns.
Featured New Book
Low Fee Vegan Investing, Taking veganism to the next level, by Tom
Nowak, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
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Disclaimer: Neither The Soul Investor nor Ron Robins make investment recommendations. Nothing in this newsletter should be interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation to buy/sell any securities or investments. The Soul Investor is a source of general information and resources for spiritual investing, ethical investing, and socially responsible investing (SRI). Investors should consider their actions thoroughly and consult their professional advisers prior to taking any investment action. The Soul Investor does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in articles in its newsletter or offered on the web pages to which it might be linked. Such opinions are the responsibility of the writers themselves. Furthermore, The Soul Investor does not offer or provide any warranties, representations, guarantees, implied or otherwise, as to the accuracy, legality, copyright compliance, timeliness or usefulness of the information, materials or services in this e-newsletter, or other sites, to which it might be linked. Also, Mr. Ron Robins is not an investment advisor, nor is he licensed with any professional investment related body, and thus is not able to, nor does he make, any investment recommendations.
The Soul Investor is a publication of Investing for the Soul, a registered business name in Ontario, Canada. Copyright © 2014 Ron Robins. All rights reserved.