News & Commentaries by Ron Robins
Latest Podcast: Most Sustainable Stocks & Funds for 2022. includes coverage of the following stocks: Life Time, Hurtigruten, Panera Bread, Yeti, Toro, Ecolab, Colgate-Palmolive, Tesla, Beyond Meat, Microsoft, Aflac, Enphase Energy, Intuit, Adobe, Waste Management, Chipotle, PepsiCo. Plus: First Trust Water ETF, iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, Fidelity US Sustainability Index Fund, and Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund.
We Need to Create a Shared Language Around ESG. “Billionaires likeElon Muskcall it a ‘scam,’ consumers and business leaders see it as astrategic priorityto develop more sustainable business models, while governments are implementing ESG standards as a way toact in the public’s interest.”
[COMMENTARY]This article provides a useful perspective on defining ESG and how it might be understood from differing perspectives.
We Need to Create a Shared Language Around ESG, by Mark Horoszowski, September 26, 2022, Triple Pundit, USA.
Nuclear Power Still Doesn’t Make Much Sense. “In a common energy industry measure known as ‘levelized cost,’ nuclear’s minimum price is about$131 per megawatt-hour, which is at least twice the price of natural gas and coal, and four times the cost of utility-scale solar and onshore wind power installations.
And the high price of nuclear power doesn’t include its extraneous costs, such as the staggering price of disasters. Cleanup and other costs for the 2011 Fukushima disaster, caused by an earthquake and a tsunami off the Japanese coast, mayapproach a trillion dollars.”
[COMMENTARY]I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of analysts say that nuclear (fission) is going to be the answer to reaching net-zero by 2050. However, this analyst’s analysis makes a cogent and coherent case for avoiding relying on nuclear.
My principal concerns regarding renewables are that the surface areas required as well as the metals and materials needed will not be sufficiently available. What do you think?
Nuclear Power Still Doesn’t Make Much Sense, by Farhad Manjoo, September 16, 2022, The New York Times, USA.
Experts question economic, environmental value of wind power. “Martis explained to The Center Square that the manufacturing and transportation of turbines to their destination typically requires overseas shipping to U.S. ports, followed by over-the-road transport requiring several diesel-fueled 18-wheel semi-trucks per turbine.”
[COMMENTARY]Though this article makes some interesting points, they might be invalidated due to the author’s reliance on studies many years old.
Experts question economic, environmental value of wind power, by Bruce Walker, September 14, 2022, The Center Square, USA.
Female directors improve corporate social responsibility. “Companies are more likely to take corporate social responsibility seriously if they have more women on their board of directors, new University of Sydney Business School research reveals.”
[COMMENTARY]Here’s another good quote from the article, “Our research indicates that improving gender parity on corporate boards reaps benefits by improving governance structure in the form of effective CSR committees, which has immediate and long-term benefits for companies, says Dr Anish Purkayastha.”
Female directors improve corporate social responsibility, University of Sydney, September 8, 2022, Australia.
The Politics of Values-Based Investing. “We do not expect the controversy about ESG investing to disappear anytime soon. Much of it is healthy, such as correcting for excessive claims that an ESG fund ‘will make the world a better place’ when there is no demonstrable way to show that it will.
Conservatives who complain that ESG investing is a way of forcing a social and environmental agenda on companies that has nothing to do with company profitability, perhaps even hurting it, need to look in the mirror if they are creating anti-ESG funds of their own. This is simply swapping out one set of values for another. Both are forms of Socially Responsible Investing.”
[COMMENTARY]This is an excellent article by someone at the pinnacle of academia who studies corporate ESG and sustainability performance.
The Politics of Values-Based Investing, by Robert G. Eccles and Jill E. Fisch, September 7, 2022, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, USA.
100 Percent Renewable Energy Systems Could Power the Globe By 2050. “A new review from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) analyses over 600 peer-reviewed articles on 100 percent renewable energy systems. ‘The main conclusion of most of these studies is that 100 percent renewables is feasible worldwide at low cost,'” the report determines.”
[COMMENTARY]My concerns about material shortages are apparently dealt with in some studies.
100 Percent Renewable Energy Systems Could Power the Globe By 2050, by Andrew Kaminsky, September 5, 2022, Triplepundit, USA.
Texas’ Answer to ‘Woke’ Investing Looks Kind of Woke. “The same day Texas released its version of the index prohibitorum, it emerged that California would ban gasoline-powered cars by 2035. Now one can, of course, say that policy is misguided or too costly; that is a valid debate. But to say that firms lending to or investing in the oil industry shouldn’t factor in the biggest car market in the US — which also sets the regulatory agenda in many other states — banning the biggest source of demand for oil is simply delusional.”
[COMMENTARY]The above quote from the article is telling. It implies that by implementing the state’s new financial guidelines, it’s ‘telling’ the state’s pensions, etc., to not divest assets/stocks that in the future might become stranded assets, thereby harming financial returns. Texas is doing the very thing it says it is trying to guard against!
Texas’ Answer to ‘Woke’ Investing Looks Kind of Woke, by Liam Denning, August 30, 2022, Bloomberg, USA.
Why sustainable investors may rue being too passive. “Passive sustainable funds are growing strongly. But investors in these funds are at risk of a mismatch between what they expect and the reality of what they receive.”
[COMMENTARY]This article’s author makes a strong case for active investing. That is where funds are actively managed compared to passive management of, say, an index or most ETFs.
Why sustainable investors may rue being too passive, by Rory Bateman, August 30, 2022, Schroders, UK.
Making Money Moral: How a New Wave of Visionaries Is Linking Purpose and Profit, by Judith Rodin and Saadia Madsbjerg, Wharton School Press 2021.
“Anyone who wants to understand the link between capital markets and progress towards a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous world should put this book at the top of their reading list. Through real-life examples and in-depth conversations with experts, Making Money Moral demonstrates the power of bringing together the world of finance and the world of impact.”–Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman, Skoll Foundation, Co-Founder, The Rise Fund.