March 2011 Newsletter

March 2011 Newsletter

News & Commentaries by Ron Robins


Corporate Responsibility Magazine Announces Its 12th Annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. – [COMMENTARY] Their top three are Johnson Controls Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and International Business Machines Corp. You can review their methodology in great detail should you wish too.
Corporate Responsibility Magazine announces its 12th annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, March 3, 2011, CR Magazine, USA.

US Oil Giants Ask SEC To Eliminate Proxy Votes Related To Environment. – [COMMENTARY] “US oil majors including Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Occidental are seeking SEC approval to write off shareholder resolutions lodged by institutional investors on environmental issues from votes at their forthcoming annual general meetings (AGMs). Their lawyers have written to the US regulator seeking assurance that it will not act against them if the proposals are omitted from the shareholder proxy voting form ahead of the AGMs, according to SEC filings. The process is entirely legitimate.”

I believe though this might be legal, it is a terrible backward step. All ethical investors should be concerned about this. US socially responsible investors and groups should let the SEC know how they feel on this topic.
US oil majors petition SEC to write off environmental shareholder resolutions from AGM votes, by Daniel Brooksbank, March 2, 2011, Responsible Investor, UK.

US Green Chamber Of Commerce Launched. – [COMMENTARY] “The U.S. Green Chamber, launched last weekend, is the evolution of the Green Chamber of San Diego, a spinoff of a Chamber of Commerce chapter in San Diego County. Now, with a national focus and an ever-expanding membership roster, the group hopes to take its successes, and its membership of about 250 companies — mostly in Southern California, but with some members across the country — and scale them up to the national level.” I think the idea of such an organization on the national and even international level is long overdue. Ethical investors might want to pay attention to the membership of this organization. It might just offer clues as to whom they favour for their investments.
US Green Chamber Launches as a Complement to Chamber of Commerce, by Matthew Wheeland, February 24, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

UK Government To Establish A Green Bank. – [COMMENTARY] “Chancellor George Osborne announced in yesterday’s Budget that the new bank will be launched next year, and will have …3 billion to promote green investment – treble the original sum proposed… The Chancellor said the bank would support low-carbon development where the returns were too long-term or too risky for the market to invest. He said it would lever in …15bn of private sector investment during the life of the parliament.”

If successful, many other governments may follow. However, I just hope that it’s not government bureaucrats that really run it!
Budget ’boosts city’s claim as home of UK green bank,’ by Ian Swanson, March 24, 2011,, UK.

Can Companies Stay With US Chamber of Commerce If Chambers Actions Contradict Their Policies? – [COMMENTARY] “Resolutions will be filed at IBM and PepsiCo asking them to explain their position.” This is a valid concern and reflects directly on their ethical, or unethical, behaviour.
Can big US companies stay with the Chamber of Commerce when it contradicts their own policies? By Steve Viederman, March 23, 2011, Responsible Investor, UK.

Shale Gas Fracking Debate Heats Up. – [COMMENTARY]
“Environmental campaigners that are raising fears over shale gas extraction might just be cutting off their nose to spite their face, argues Jon Entine.”
I do not normally post such things, but I came upon this and thought that this is such a hot topic among ethical investors that it would add to the discussion.
Natural gas: Getting fractious over fracking, by Jon Entine, February 25, 2011, Ethical Corporation, UK.

Two-Thirds Of The World’s Top 100 Brands Failing On Climate Change, Says EIRIS. – [COMMENTARY] “Looking back over the last three years, our analysis finds encouraging signs that companies have made improvement in their response to climate change in the shape of improved governance, better strategies andmore disclosure. However, no company achieved an ‘advanced′ assessment in their response to climate change, suggesting significant scope for improvement remains.”

This is a very good study that ethical investors might want to review, courtesy of Responsible Investor.
Cool Brands versus Hot Brands? March 7, 2011, EIRIS, UK.

UNEP Finance Initiative Issues Study On Passive Responsible Investing. – [COMMENTARY] “The following report presents eight case studies that demonstrate how asset owners and investment manager signatories are meeting the challenge of responsible investment within passive management strategies for equities.” This is more useful reading for ethical investors, courtesy of Responsible Investor.
Responsible Investment in Passive Management Strategies: Case studies & Guidance, (PDF) January 2011, UNEP Finance Initiative, UK.

Deutsche Bank Releases Climate Change Investing Report. – [COMMENTARY] “A DB Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA) report released today, ’Investing in Climate Change 2011’, examines the risks associated with climate change investing across different asset classes and provides a framework to understand how asset managers can manage these risks. In the report, DBCCA argues that a major shift in investor attitudes is taking place: leading institutional investorsaround the world to undertake this analysis because of a growing realization of the potentially profound impact climate change mayhave on their existing portfolios.”

More good reading for ethical investors on the subject of climate change investing.
Investing in Climate Change 2011: The Mega-Trend Continues – Exploring Risk & Return, February 2011, Deutsche Bank, UK.

Ceres Critical Of Weak Corporate Climate Reporting Suggests How Such Reporting Should Be Done. – [COMMENTARY] “The Ceres report, developed with input from its 90-plus member Investor Network on Climate Risk, outlines generally weak climate disclosure to date by businesses and steps for improving such disclosure, especially in annual 10-K financial filings that are next due from companies by March 31, 2011. It comes just a week after the consulting firm Mercer issued a new study warning that climate change could increase investment portfolio risk by 10 percent over the next 20 years.”

This type of positive commentary and encouragement for better climate change reporting is greatly needed. Unless climate change reporting is of a high standard, how can ethical investors and other stakeholders understand what companies are really doing? Well done Ceres.
New report outlines what companies should be disclosing on climate change risks and opportunities, press release, February 25, 2011, Ceres, USA.

Latest Commentaries by Ron Robins on

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America′s Economic Rebirth, March 24, 2011.

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