April 2009

New Green Products Tripling And Doubling Each Year In US. – [COMMENTARY] “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. – [COMMENTARY] 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 table.
National Top 50, April 2009, Green Power Partnership–Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USA.

Canadians Have Invested More Than $106 Billion In Ethical Investments Since 2006. – [COMMENTARY] “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, click here.

TD Asset Management Adopts ESG Policies. – [COMMENTARY] “’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, Canada.

Speculation That Mexican Swine Flu May Have Originated In Smithfield’s Massive Mexican Hog Operations. – [COMMENTARY] “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, grist.org, USA.

India’s First Shariah Fund Attracts Mostly Non-Muslims. – [COMMENTARY] “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 the fore.
Shariah fund a hit with non-Muslims, April 24, 2009, The Times of India, India.

BankTrack Creating ESG Bank Profiles On World’s Major Banks. – [COMMENTARY] “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.

EIRIS Study Says Financial Sector Fares Badly In Managing ESG Risks. – [COMMENTARY] “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 fundsEthical investors just might want to review those holdings.
Financial sector lagging badly on ESG – EIRIS, April 23, 2009, Environmental Finance, UK. To see actual study, click here.

Ethisphere Publishes Its 2009 Edition Of The World’s Most Ethical Companies. – [COMMENTARY] 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.
2009 World′s Most Ethical Companies, April 2009, Ethisphere, USA.

More Data On Growth Of Ethical UK Banks. – [COMMENTARY] “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 conscious banks.
Ethical banks cash in after trouble on the high street, by Tim Hunt, April 20, 2009, The Guardian, UK.

Research Shows Genetically Modified Crops Fail To Significantly Increase Yields. – [COMMENTARY] “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 Scientists, USA.

Organic Dairy Farming Avoided 40M Pounds Of Fertilizer In 2008: Report. – [COMMENTARY] “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 future.
Organic Dairy Farming Avoided 40M Pounds of Fertilizer in 2008: Report, April 13, 2009, GreenBiz.com, USA.

European SRI Fund Sales Increase Even Though Overall Fund Sales Were Met With Redemptions. – [COMMENTARY] “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 longer term.
SRI funds continue to sell strongly, bucking mainstream equity fund withdrawals, by Hugh Wheelan, April 16, 2009, Responsible Investor, UK.

Eurosif Calls On EU To Force Companies To Report On ESG Issues. – [COMMENTARY] “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.

SRI Fund Launched For Africa. – [COMMENTARY] “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 option.
Sustainable Investing Fund Is Launched in Africa, by Robert Kropp, April 15, 2009, SocialFunds, USA.

GE Wins Top Sustainability Award From Ceres. – [COMMENTARY] “GE 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.

Trucost Discloses Carbon Footprints For US Mutual Funds. – [COMMENTARY]  “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 ethical investors.
“Carbon footprints” of top U.S. mutual funds revealed in groundbreaking Trucost report, press release, April 8, 2009, Trucost, USA.

India’s Karmayog Announces CSR Ratings On 1,000 Indian Companies. – [COMMENTARY] Karmayog is probably India’s foremost corporate social responsibility rating organization.
Report on the Karmayog CSR Ratings of the 1000 largest Indian companies – 2008, Karmayog, April 8, 2009, India.

1,473 More Companies Sign-On To UN’s Global Compact Between 2007-9. – [COMMENTARY] “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. – [COMMENTARY] “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, UK.

Sweden About To Mandate ESG Analysis For Its AP €80 Billion Pension Fund. – [COMMENTARY] “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 2009. – [COMMENTARY] “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.

Insurers Emerge To Tackle Climate Change. – [COMMENTARY] “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.

Clean Energy & Tech Investment Falls. – [COMMENTARY] “… 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.

Banking On Ethics Pays Off. – [COMMENTARY] “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.

International Energy Agency (IEA) Says Grain Ethanol Better Than Gasoline For Environment. – [COMMENTARY] “… 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.

Cleantech Venture Investment Globally Drops 41% In Q1/09 From Q4/08. – [COMMENTARY] “… 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 go higher.
Cleantech investment drops but stimulus funds soar in 1Q09, by Lizette Wilson Chapman, Cleantech.com, USA.

World’s Leading Socially Responsible Investing Organizations Call On G20 To Incorporate Sustainability & Social Responsibility In Stimulus Packages. – [COMMENTARY] “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 business environment!
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.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting In Canada. – [COMMENTARY] “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 this report.
CFERF executive research report, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Canada.

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