Greenpeace Says IT Firms Need More Focus On Climate Change. – [COMMENTARY] “Greenpeace yesterday launched its newest campaign aiming at urging the IT industry to do more to help address climate change issues, and finds that the industry has plenty of room for improvement.” IT stocks are a big percentage of most ethical investing funds. Yet according to Greenpeace they are lacking in their response to sustainability and climate change. Ethical investors might want to question their fund holdings in some of these IT firms.
Greenpeace Finds IT Firms Lacking on Climate Leadership, May 29, 2009, GreenBiz, USA.
Japanese Companies Lead In Response To Climate Change. – [COMMENTARY] “Last year, EIRIS completed a study on the corporate response of the 300 largest cap global companies to climate change. This is a regional update focusing on Asian (Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore) companies listed on the FTSE All World Developed Index and Korean companies to be listed in September 2009. This paper analyses the current state of corporate response to climate change in comparison with global peers listed on the FTSE All World Developed Index and examines the implications for investors.”
The Japanese environmental consciousness has created a regulatory framework that has not only spurred their companies to be more environmentally sensitive, but one could also argue it allows them a competitive advantage in developing sustainable, green products and services. Japan is already the leading market for LOHAS products.
Climate Change Tracker: Asia, May 2009, EIRIS, UK.
World’s Largest Stock Exchange Group To Provide ESG Information On Its Listed Companies. – [COMMENTARY] “NYSE Euronext’s equities markets, consisting of the New York Stock Exchange, Euronext, NYSE Arco, and NYSE Amex, include more than 8,000 listed issues worldwide, representing almost 40% of the world’s cash equities trading volume. Under the agreement, NYSE Euronext becomes the first major stock exchange in the world to provide ASSET4’s assetmasterExecutive product to a number of its listed companies. The product is designed to allow corporate executives to manage their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies with increased accuracy.”
This is a tremendous step forward for the recognition of ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues in relation to securities analysis. Also, it encourages companies to realize the advantages of using corporate social responsibility to the fullest possible extent.
World’s Largest Stock Exchange Will Provide ESG Information to Its Listed Companies, by Robert Kropp, May 27, 2009, SocialFunds.com, USA.
S&P Launches New Canadian Shariah Compliant Index. – [COMMENTARY] “The S&P/TSX 60 Shariah Index recategorizes equities on the S&P/TSX 60 and excludes all those that do not comply with Islamic law, which is based on the Qur’an holy book. These include companies involved with alcohol, entertainment, pork-related products, tobacco and financial services. As well, companies with certain ratios of cash, leverage, and involvement in non-compliant business activities do not qualify. Banks are excluded because investors are not allowed to profit from interest, which is considered an unequal distribution of risk.” This index will prove to be another boost for ethical stocks and bonds!
New Shariah Index follows letter of law, by Eric Lam, May 27, 2009, Financial Post, Canada.
Employees Help Choose UK’s Greenest Companies. – [COMMENTARY] A fascinating ranking by The Sunday Times of London of what are considered to be the greenest UK companies. Ethical investors again might find some investment leads here.
The Sunday Times Green List 2009, May 24, 2009, The Sunday Times, UK. For company rankings, click here.
UNPRI Says Pension Funds Should Incorporate Climate Change As Part Of Their Fiduciary Duty. – [COMMENTARY] “Pension funds should be pursuing investment strategies to mitigate the potential systemic risk of climate change and profit from low carbon capital opportunities as part of their fiduciary duty, according to a report produced by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment Initiative (PRI) and launched as part of Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General′s ‘Caring for Climate′ research series. The report says institutional investors with long-term investment horizons and broad allocations across the economy will be exposed to serious investment risks from unmitigated climate change unless they counteract.” We increasingly observe that major funds with a long-term horizon are beginning to take climate change into account. This is good news for green and ethical investors in the years and decades ahead.
Pension funds should address climate change as part of fiduciary duty: UNPRI, by Hugh Wheelan, May 26, 2009, Responsible Investor, UK.
Coca-Cola, Toyota, France Telecom Among Top-Scoring CSR Reporters. – [COMMENTARY] “The center at Claremont McKenna College announced on Tuesday the release of five reports detailing the sustainability reporting efforts of five sectors: consumer food, food production and beverages; forest and paper products; industrial and farm equipment; motor vehicles and parts; and telecommunications. The center also issued two reports on the energy and utility sectors.” Consumer oriented companies especially, see the advantages of using corporate social responsibility.
Coca-Cola, Toyota, France Telecom Among Top-Scoring CSR Reporters, May 19, 2009, GreenBiz, USA.
Green Energy Financings Increasing Again. – [COMMENTARY] “The outlook turned sharply negative earlier this year. In the first quarter, worldwide investment in green energy projects of all kinds plunged 53% compared with the same period in 2008, to $13.3 billion… But that picture is already starting to brighten. After raising just $100 million from the debt and equity markets in the first quarter, green energy companies have scared up $2 billion in the second quarter so far.” As oil prices climb back up and the realization that carbon based energy will become ever more expensive due to climate change measures increasingly restricting their use, green energy investments are likely to continue to gain.
Climate Change Summit: Green Investing Returns, by Mark Scott, May 22, 2009, Business Week, USA.
UK’s Co-operative Investments Says 18% More British Investors To Make Ethical Investments In 2009. – [COMMENTARY] “New research from The Co-operative Investments reveals that 18 per cent more people intend to invest ethically this year,.. Zack Hocking, head of investments at The Co-operative Investments said: ’The financial crisis appears to have encouraged investors to think not only about how much money they make, but importantly, how it is made…’ According to latest IMA figures, retail inflows into ethical funds have now exceeded outflows for each of the fourteen months since February 2008…” This is further evidence that ethical stocks and bonds continue to be favoured in the UK.
Ethical investors to rise by 18% in 2009, May 20, 2009, Easier Finance, UK.
Healthy Consumers Drive Functional Foods Market Growth: Study. – [COMMENTARY] “’Consumers are re-evaluating their health, nutrition and lifestyle choices adopted years ago,’ said Tatjana Meerman, publisher of New York-based Packaged Facts. ’This reevaluation includes considering the role functional foods and beverages could or should play in diets in order to avoid or help treat all kinds of health conditions. This new, proactive approach is fundamentally different from the reactive tendencies of consumers in the past who only treated health problems after they arose.’”
What is happening with consumers is evidence of a higher consciousness taking hold that is transforming our society. Please see these related editorials and understand their implications for ethical investing. They are: Everyone becoming A Cultural Creative; LOHAS – Opportunities for Ethical Investors; and Voluntary Simplicity? An Ethical Investing Perspective.
Healthy Consumers Drive Functional Foods Market Growth: Study, May 18, 2009, Lohas.com, source, Progressive Grocer, USA.
New EIRIS Report Promotes ESG For Foundation Funds. – [COMMENTARY] “The consideration of ‘extra-financial′ factors, such as environment, social and governance (ESG) issues in investments is nothing new. A number of charities have been doing this for decades. Organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust have invested in line with their charitable objectives without losing out financially. Whether or not you agree with the mission case for incorporating ESG factors, there is growing evidence that this is an astute financial decision and can be used to safeguard and enhance returns.” For foundations to be true to their missions, it means in most cases they are duty bound to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into their investment evaluations.
The value of environmental, social and governance factors for foundation investments, May 2009, EIRIS, UK.
Survey: Indian, Brazilian, & Chinese Consumers Are The ’Greenest.’ – [COMMENTARY] “For a second year in a row, consumers in India, Brazil and China scored the highest — and those in the U.S., the lowest — for green behavior among the countries included the Greendex survey conducted by the National Geographic Society and international polling firm GlobeScan. The second annual Greendex survey canvassed 17,000 adults online in 17 countries this year to gauge consumer attitudes and their behavior.” The results of this survey seem to infer that the lower ones income the greener one is? Perhaps it is also that poorer people are more frugal and concerned about wasting resources. This is a fascinating survey that may have some nuggets of insight for green and ethical investors.
Consumers in India, Brazil and China are the ’Greenest’: Greendex Survey, May 13, 2009, GreenBiz, USA. For actual survey, click here.
A Review Of Ten New US Green & Socially Responsible Funds. – [COMMENTARY] “Here, are ten Green mutual funds, each offering new prospects to participate in social and environmental responsibility while profiting from our expanding need to conserve and sustain global resources. They include: Appleseed, Integrity Growth & Income, Wells Fargo Advantage Social Sustainability, Dreyfus Global Sustainability, Calvert Large Cap Value, Calvert Global Water, Pax World Global Green, Pax World International, Pax World Small Cap and Firsthand Alternative Energy. Each fund offers a unique blend of financial pathways to sustainable prosperity. All data is as of 12/31/08.” Article is one of several great reads from the new edition of GreenMoney Journal.
Ten New Green Mutual Funds (Expanded Version), by Ted Ketchum, May 2009, GreenMoney Journal, USA.
CSR Continues To Grow In Canada According To New Ivey/Jantzi Research Report. – [COMMENTARY] “The report, based on an ongoing collaboration between the Richard Ivey School of Business and Jantzi Research, reveals continuing improvement in performance during 2008, with 79 per cent of companies improving CSR ratings, up from 65 per cent the previous year. The study finds, across all categories, that companies are investing in, formalizing and communicating their CSR initiatives.” For companies, the advantages of using corporate social responsibility are obvious and growing world-wide. As a result we are moving into a new ethical investing era.
Ivey/Jantzi research report shows CSR trending upwards, press release, May 13, 2009, Richard Ivey School of Business and Jantzi Research,
During Slowdown, Companies With A Sustainability Focus Outperform In Financial Markets. – [COMMENTARY] “As companies cut costs to get through the current global economic slowdown, there is often a temptation to abandon recent forays into sustainability. Yet a new A.T. Kearney analysis finds that companies committed to corporate sustainability practices during this slowdown are achieving above-average performance in the financial markets during this slowdown. So before tossing out those sustainability practices and initiatives, it might be wise to first determine the real value of the efforts—especially the possible rewards for staying the course.” Thank you Michael Jantzi of Jantzi Research, Canada, for letting us know of this interesting study.
“Green” Winners, A. T. Kearney, USA.
Bioelectricity Offers More Miles and Fewer Emissions Than Ethanol: Study. – [COMMENTARY] “Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, Merced, studied the lifecycle of plant-based electricity, or “bioelectricity,” and ethanol technologies to determine which delivered more miles of transportation with fewer environmental impacts. They concluded battery-powered vehicles that used electricity derived from biomass provided an average of 80 percent more miles of transportation per crop acre than internal combustion engine vehicles running on ethanol made from corn or switchgrass.” Green and ethical investors might want to look into this and determine what investments might benefit from it.
Bioelectricity Offers More Miles and Fewer Emissions Than Ethanol: Study, May 11, 2009, GreenBiz, USA.
UK Ethical Investment Funds Growing For 14 Consecutive Months. – [COMMENTARY] “Figures released by UKSIF, the sustainable investment and finance association, show that its members′ ethical investment funds have been growing for 14 consecutive months since February 2008. Penny Shepherd, the association′s chief executive, believes that their investors are less inclined to take panic measures. ’Green and ethical investors stick for the long term,’ she said.” Here we have continuing encouragement concerning ethical stocks and bonds.
Ethical banking and investment booming in Britain, by Parminder Bahra, May 9, 2009, The Times, UK.
Consumers Say Companies Are Becoming More responsible. – [COMMENTARY] “… the number of consumers who say that companies are more responsible now than they were in years prior is up 10 percent annually since 2006. This shift in attitudes may be a sign that the multitude of company sustainability initiatives is registering positively with consumers, according to the 2008 LOHAS Consumer Trends Database.” With consumers seeing the launch of more green products and services and genuine corporate interest in sustainability, it is clear that companies are increasingly realizing the advantage of using corporate social responsibility.
LOHAS Consumers Want Proof and Third-party Verification, May 5, 2009, Environmental Leader, USA.
Fair Pensions Reviews 30 UK Pension Schemes For Responsible Investment Practices. – [COMMENTARY] “Importance of ESG issues: ’a truth universally acknowledged’ but not universally acted upon: All of the schemes surveyed (with the exception of five schemes for which no data was available), acknowledge in their Statement of Investment Principles the potential importance of ESG factors in the investment process. However, this is often not fully reflected in detailed policy, implementation and performance monitoring.” I consider it heartening that these pension schemes (funds) are saying that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are important.
Fair Pensions reviews top 30 UK schemes responsible investment policies, by Peter Shield, May 7, 2009, Natural Choices, UK.
SHARE Canada Releases Its Q1/09 Report On Canadian Shareholder Engagement Activity. – [COMMENTARY] Issues concerning governance and the environment lead the list of engagement activities.
Shareholder Engagement Report 1Q/09, May 7, 2009, SHARE, Canada.
Harrington Investments, Inc., Is Successful In Getting Shareholders Of Goldman Sachs To Vote On Its Economic Security Proposal. – [COMMENTARY] “Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII), a Napa, California-based socially responsible investment advisory firm, has been successful in placing a major bylaw amendment on U.S. economic security before Goldman Sachs shareholders. The vote on the amendment will take place at Goldman Sachs annual meeting on Friday, May 8, 2009 in New York City. ’This resolution will be the first in the country to call upon the owners of a major financial institution that has received taxpayer bailout funds to create a board committee to pledge support for U.S. economic security,’ said John Harrington, President and CEO of HII, ’Goldman Sachs has received a $10 billion bailout, $22 billion in bond guarantees, FDIC insurance, and is eligible for cheap money from the Federal Reserve, and all the while denying any responsibility to safeguard our country’s economic future.’ This will be fascinating to watch!
Shareholders to Vote on Resolution Calling on Goldman Sachs to Adhere to U.S. Economic Security, May 6, 2009, press release, Harrington Investments, Inc., USA.
Fee-Only Advisors Gaining Ground In US. – [COMMENTARY] “In a new report published on Tuesday, researchers at Strategic Insight say they’ve found the growing trend of investors shifting away from commission-based advisers gaining momentum during the ongoing market downturn. While the report deals strictly with traditional mutual funds, both no-load as well as load, it does add another notch to the belt of fee-based advisers. (It has been fee-based advisers who’ve been leading the charge into exchange-traded funds, especially among individual investors.)” This is a most interesting trend. I’ve always been concerned about the potential conflict of interest for advisors who both advise and receive commissions for the products they sell to clients. I know the majority of advisors in this position do not believe it an issue. But the possibility of not doing what is best for the client and trying to maximise commissions can conflict.
Investors Moving To Fee-Only Advisers During Crisis, by Murray Coleman, May 5, 2009, IndexUniverse.com, USA.