May 2008

Companies In US Coming Clean On Their Political Contributions. – [COMMENTARY] Finally, more US public companies are seeing fit to provide details on their political contributions. I believe that this sort of reporting should be mandatory for public companies everywhere. You can see a list of the companies providing this information at the following link.
Political disclosure tops 50 companies, May 29, 2008,, USA.

College Students In US Rate Brands On How Green They Are Perceived. – [COMMENTARY] There is no single best corporation to invest in, however, this survey of American college students provides some insight as to what they feel are the best, and worst, green companies today. The list is worth a look at if you are a green investor.
Going Green for Generation Y: New Bentley College Study Reveals Perception is Key to Attracting Young Consumers, press release, May 22, 2008, Bentley College, USA.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Trends Examined In FTSE 100 Companies. – [COMMENTARY] The UK’s Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRS) has produced a report examining the ESG trends in the FTSE 100 companies. Overall, they cite progress on these issues. The activities of individual companies are not mentioned.
FTSE100 snapshot: Trends in ESG performance, May 27, 2008, Ethical Investment Research Service, UK.

US Companies Biggest Givers To Charities. – [COMMENTARY] The advantage of using corporate social responsibility to pursue corporate aims is not lost on US companies. “Ninety-four percent of U.S. respondents said they had donated money to community groups or charitable causes, compared with only 65 percent of companies in other countries. And 82 percent of U.S. businesses took part in activities related to community service, compared with 55 percent of companies elsewhere.” Further, the study states that the “main motivation [in giving] was to promote recruitment and retention… Given a list of reasons for engaging in corporate social responsibility, Americans were by far the least likely to cite ’saving the earth’ as a motivator. In fact, only 21 percent said their efforts were motivated by this sort of idealism, compared with 40 percent worldwide.”
The Best Cause of All, by Mark Hofman, June 2008,, USA.

Mercer, Among The World’s Largest Investment Consultants, Adds Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Factors Into its Mainstream Investment Analysis. – [COMMENTARY] Ethical investing continues to make great headway among large traditional investment consultants. This move by Mercer, in particular, may spur many other consultants and money managers to adopt ESG criteria in their analysis and holdings as well. Ethical stocks and bonds receive yet another boost!
Demand forces managers to disclose SRI stance, by Mark Noble, May 26, 2008,, Canada.

Ernst & Young Says Islamic Funds & Investments Reach $267 billion In GCC Countries And The Far East. – [COMMENTARY] This is their estimated total of Sharia compliant investments. The GCC countries are: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, and the Republic of Yemen. Some experts believe that Sharia compliant investments are growing around 15+% a year. Therefore, they are likely to be an increasingly large player in world financial markets. These investments in many ways resemble ethical investing, however, the receipt of interest is forbidden.
Lack of diversification and human resource hiccups ’haunting.’ May 27, 2008, Gulf Daily News, Bahrain.

Carbon Tax By British Columbia (BC), A Canadian Province, Set To Cost CDN$500 Million To Its Resource Industries. – [COMMENTARY] This is going to be interesting to watch. BC is in the forefront of introducing a carbon tax, which comes into effect July 1. Though revenue neutral to the government, it is not revenue neutral to affected industries. Green investors everywhere may want to pay attention to what happens in BC as it is in some respects a test case, particularly for North America jurisdictions.
Carbon tax to cost exporters $500-million a year, by Nathan VanderKlippe, May 26, 2008, Financial Post, Canada.

F&C: 88% In Survey Say It’s Important That Companies Act Responsibly In Regard To Environmental, Social & Governance Issues (ESG). – [COMMENTARY] Commenting on this survey, F&C says that London’s financial firms are missing out on a great opportunity by not promoting ethical investing. The survey clearly demonstrates the potential for ethical stocks and bonds in the UK.
City’s only ’scratching the surface’ of ethical investment, May 26, 2008, Fair Investment Company, UK.

Study: Companies Investing In States Deemed ’Terrorist’ Have Poor Returns. – [COMMENTARY] “Companies with links to regimes with questionable human rights practices make poor investments, financially as well as ethically… Conducted with Bloomberg by the Genocide Intervention Network, a private group based in the United States, and its Sudan Divestment Task Force project, the study will most likely bolster the growing clamor among investors for socially responsible policies and investment vehicles.” Hopefully, the study stands-up to statistical scrutiny. It will be good to have some real data supporting that investing in terrorist, dominated jurisdictions, is not so good financially. When the study is released on May 27 it will draw a lot of new attention and possibly more funds into ethical investing.
Sudan divestment campaigns gain momentum, by Holly Hubbard Preston, May 23, 2008, International Herald Tribune, France.

Queen Elizabeth Building The World’s Tallest Wind Turbine. – [COMMENTARY] It appears the UK’s royal family’s conversion to alternative energy is complete. The turbine will have a capacity of 7.5 megawatts and cost $65 million. This is a good indication that the elites of this world are taking climate change more seriously.
Queen goes for world′s biggest wind turbine, by Alan Harten, May 23, 2008, Fair Home, UK.

KPMG: Climate Change Risks Underestimated In Many Sectors. – [COMMENTARY] Areas such as transportation, tourism, aviation, healthcare, the financial sector, and the oil and gas industries scored high on risks but low on preparedness. Thus they are prone to significant financial shocks. Ethical investors may want to re-evaluate their holdings in these sectors.
Climate change risks tend to be underestimated – survey, by Christy van der Merwe, May 22, 2008, Engineering News, South Africa.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Shows Companies How To Profit By Going Green. – [COMMENTARY] California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger helped launch EDF’s latest report on how businesses can make money by going green. The report cites green activities of many environmentally conscious major corporations. Green investors might get some ideas from this report.
Innovations Review: Making green the new business as usual, May 20, 2008, Environmental Defense Fund, USA.

52 Institutional Investors Urge US Senate On Climate Change Legislation. – [COMMENTARY] “Organised by Ceres and the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), around 52 institutional investors are supporting the call including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and California State Teachers’ Retirement System, along with state controllers and asset managers such as F&C Investments and Boston Common Asset Management.” With the Bush administration on its way out, we actually might see some real action by the US government on climate change as the Lieberman-Warner climate bill is set for debate nest month.
US Senate urged to tackle climate change, by Keren Holland, May 20, 2008, Global Pensions, UK.

European Green Investments To Exceed €500 billion By 2014. – [COMMENTARY] Frost and Sullivan, investment analysts, “… reveal that the [green investment] sector has increased by about 20 per cent between 2006 (€150bn) and 2007 (€180.40bn), and is expected to grow at a rate of around 18 per cent between 2007 and 2014, to reach €572.9 billion by 2014, with huge investments being made in green product and technology development.”
European Green Investment market tipped to exceed €500 billion, by Gemma Taylor, May 20, 2008, NewConsumer, UK.

Canadian Investment Advisors May Soon Be Required To Ask Clients About Their Personal Values. – [COMMENTARY] The Investment Dealers Association of Canada may soon make the ’know-thy-client’ rule mandatory, effectively requiring investment advisors to know more about their client’s personal values. Should this go into effect, it could provide a significant boost to ethical investing in Canada.
Social responsibility could be a KYC issue, by Romana King, May 16, 2008,, Canada.

UK Teens: 85% Want Firms They Invest In To Not Harm The Environment. – [COMMENTARY] The future for green investing in the UK is decidedly promising as its teen population espouses enormous support for the environment. This article also says that teens are heavily influencing their parents in their investment choices in favouring ethical stocks and bonds.
Teens boost demand for ethical investors, May 19, 2008,, UK.

Wind Power Could Provide 20% Of US Energy Needs By 2030. – [COMMENTARY] Finally, even the US government — at least its Department of Energy — is getting on the alternative energy bandwagon.
Wind could provide 20% of nation’s energy, May 12, 2008, Associated Press on MSNBC, USA.

US Energy Usage Cut By Half Since 1970. – [COMMENTARY] This is good news, but the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy warns that much of the untapped energy efficiency could be wasted. Green investors might find this report interesting from a macro perspective.
The “Invisible” U.S. Energy Efficiency Boom: ACEEE Report Finds U.S. Energy Consumption Cut in Half by One Major Measure since 1970 … But Much of the Untapped Energy Efficiency Potential Could Be Wasted, May 15, 2008, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), USA.

UK Financial Advisors See Significant Increase In Clients Requesting Ethical Investing Products. – [COMMENTARY] Continuing great news from the UK concerning the growth of ethical investing in the country. This survey by the Association of Independent Financial Advisers’ (Aifa) finds that there has been a 23% increase in the number of enquiries for green investments. Also, however, 82% of advisors find it difficult to obtain information on ethical investing. It is helpful that the UK Social Investment Forum has organized the National Ethical Investment Week which begins on May 18!
Advisers report growing demand for ethical investments, by Gemma Westacott, May 16, 2008, FT Advisor, UK.

Socially Responsible, Ethical Investing, Growing Substantially Among European Churches. – [COMMENTARY] According to organizers of this Conference of European Churches, such a conference focusing on socially responsible investing would have been unthinkable even five years ago. It is high time that religious and philanthropic organizations everywhere get behind socially responsible investing, ethical investing, etc., if their words and deeds are to ring true.
European churches increase commitment to social investment, May 15, 2008, Ekklesia, UK.

84% Of Companies Show Improvement On ClimateCounts Scoreboard. – [COMMENTARY] This is their second year in ranking companies on climate change policies and activities. If you are interested in green stocks that are good to invest in — you might get some useful ideas by searching this scoreboard and understanding the company rankings.
Climate Counting More with Consumer Companies, press release, May 7, 2008, USA. To view actual company scores, see Climate Counts Company Scorecard,, USA.

US Catholics Put Faith In Religious Funds. – [COMMENTARY] Interesting article on the growth of morally conscious investing in the US.
Advisers, investors put faith in Catholic funds, by Andrew Coen, May 12, 2008, Investment News, USA.

Mercer’s 2007 (Fund) Manager’s Search Trends Report Cites Continuing Interest In Alternative Investments. – [COMMENTARY] The press reports on this are interesting reading as they give you some insight as to what global fund managers are doing with their investments. Though not highlighted, the report cites increased interest in socially responsible investing.
Investors searching for a safe alternative, by Lorna Thornber, May 12, 2008,, Australia, and Alternative asset classes becoming more popular, by Gerry O’Kane, May 12, 2008,, UK.

71% Of Emerging Market Project Debt In 2007 Subjected To Equator Principles. – [COMMENTARY] Very good news. In actual numbers for 2007, $52.9 billion of $74.6 billion of such financing was subjected to the Equator Principles. The Equator Principles came into being five years ago and are used by financial institutions to manage social and environmental risk in project financing.
Equator Principles vieren lustrum van milieu-besparingen en verbeterde bedrijfspraktijken, May 8, 2008, Netherlands Corporate News, Netherlands. Publishes List Of Ten Eco-Innovators To Watch. – [COMMENTARY] The list includes some well-known names — GE, Google and BASF — and some not so well known names. Green investors might spot some new areas to look at by reviewing this list.
Ten eco-innovators to watch, by Zara Maung, May 7, 2008,, UK.

Useful Thoughts On ’Sustainability Lists.’ – [COMMENTARY] Many such lists of top companies, concerning their ’greenness,’ sustainability credentials, etc., have an obvious subjective bias and it is good to be aware of these biases. Personally, when reviewing such lists I always try to ascertain what the biases are and the methodology behind the construction of them. Then I determine if they relate to my personal beliefs and values. Best to not accept them at face value.
Letter from America: Sustainability lists – Rankings without reason, by Peter T. Knight, May 6, 2008, Ethical Corporation, UK.

JPMorgan Investor Services Launches Unique ESG Client Alert Service. – [COMMENTARY] “… clients will now be alerted when their portfolios are nearing or have breached limits that they have set themselves according to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.” This seems to be a first — as far as I know. I hope that it spreads to more firms and covers individual  investor portfolios as well.
SRI alerts launched, by Heather Dale, May 7, 2008, Global Pensions, UK.

Calvert Rates US Homebuilders Green Credentials. – [COMMENTARY] None are really green builders, but KB Home, Pulte, and D.R. Horton are rated best among the leaders in endeavouring to be more green. It is tricky finding green building stocks that are good to invest in.
None of America’s Largest Homebuilders is Fully Green in Environmental and Sustainable Practices, But KB Home Ranks Highest, May 6, 2008, Calvert Funds press release, USA.

UK Retail Ethical Funds Under Management Fall £500m to £5.4bn As Of March 31, 2008. – [COMMENTARY] This is not too surprising considering the enormous run-up they had last year. Many of the sectors that ethical funds invest in saw lower returns in the first quarter as well. New retail inflows were reduced in the quarter to £27.6m, compared to £99.7m in the last quarter of 2007.
IMA stats reveal tracker revival, by Chris Salih, May 7, 2008, MoneyMarketing, UK.

PEW Commission Seeks Big Changes In US Farm Animal Production.  Current System Poses Unacceptable Risks. – [COMMENTARY] It is well known that it takes much more land and resources to feed a meat eater than a vegetarian. The consumption of meat, in particular, is helping to create a crises not only in the availability of food, but also for the quality and sustainability of our environment, and concerning human health generally. For the sake of all of us, I hope that westerners reduce their meat consumption to help offset the growing demand for meat in the developing world. Otherwise the cost of food is destined to go much higher for many, many years to come while the potential threats to our environment and human health grow. Those who invest in, or who are interesting in investing in the agricultural sector, would be advised to read this report. It will help them to select agricultural stocks that are good to invest in.
For a general read, see: Pew Commission says industrial scale farm animal production poses “Unacceptable” risks to public health, environment, by Annie Richardson, May 2, 2008, Food Democracy, USA. To read the report, go to: Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, May 2008, by The Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA.

Unilever, Diageo & SAB Miller Best In Water Usage According To The Ecumenical Council For Corporate Responsibility. – [COMMENTARY] The Council reviewed the water usage of fifteen UK and Irish food and beverage industries. The executive summary is brief, but useful for anyone assessing the environmental behaviour of companies in the food industry. It could be seen as an indicator of how seriously these companies take environmental sustainability, and in that sense assist investors as to the best socially responsible stocks to invest in — in these industries.
Water Sustainability: Meeting the Challenge, May 2008, The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, UK.

TIME Magazine Has Interesting Article On Terror-Free Investing. – [COMMENTARY] Millions of Americans are getting the opportunity to invest in ’terror-free’ funds.
Rules of Disengagement, by Adam Zagorin, May 1, 2008, TIME, USA.

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