March 2011

Investors With $546 billion In Assets Lobby US Senate To Allow The Environmental Protection Agency To Regulate Greenhouse Gases. – [COMMENTARY] “We are 44 investors with $546 billion in assets under management writing to urge you and your colleagues to allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with its greenhouse gas regulations and to oppose any constraints on EPA′s authority to do so.”

It is astonishing to think that US elected officials would take-away such an important regulatory framework. Many in the US Congress and elsewhere believe the EPA will be anti-business, thus there opposition.
Investors With $546 billion In Assets Lobby US Senate To Allow The EPA To Regulate Greenhouse Gases, letter to US Senators, March 29, 2011, USA.

Societe Generale Launches New SRI Investment Whose Management Fees Go To Charity. – [COMMENTARY] “Societe Generale has launched its first Socially Responsible Investment Exchange Traded Note (SRIETN) on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) donating all the management fees to Teenage Cancer
This is a new welcome twist! I hope that some others follow this lead.
Societe General Launches New Socially Responsible Investment Exchange Traded Note Donating All Management Fees to Teenage Cancer Trust, press release, March 31, 2011, Societe Generale, UK.

Responsible Investment Can Outperform. – [COMMENTARY] “In a review of recent academic literature on sustainable investment, Kimberly Gladman, Director of Research and Risk Analytics at GovernanceMetrics International (GMI) has identified more than two dozen studies published during the past three years that focus ’on the empirical impact of responsible investment strategies on performance.’ From these studies, Gladman has written a review entitled Ten Things to Know About Responsible Investment & Performance… “

Continuing, “One report, she writes, ’Found that (funds) sponsored by management companies specializing in responsible investment significantly outperformed conventional funds. Those run by generalist companies, however, underperformed.’” Good overview of responsible-ethical investing.
Definitions May Vary, but Sustainable Investment Can Outperform, by Robert Kropp, March 25, 2011, SocialFunds, USA.

US Drops To Third In Clean Energy Investment. – [COMMENTARY] “The United States fell one spot to third place in clean-energy investment last year as the lack of a national energy policy hurt purchases in wind and solar power and other technologies, a report said on Tuesday. China came in first and Germany second, according to the report “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race” by the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent, nonprofit group.”

I just read that President Obama wants to reduce US oil imports by one-third over ten years and is getting behind a plan to use alternative/renewable energy. Let’s hope he is serious this time!
U.S. drops to 3rd in clean-energy investment: Pew, by Timothy Gardner, March 29, 2011, Reuters, USA.

Province Of Ontario, Canada, Requiring Pension Funds To Report On Sustainability Of Investments. – [COMMENTARY] “In a first for North America, the province will require pension plans to report to regulators on the sustainability of their investments, helping to protect pensioners and guard against systemic risk. The surprise measure unveiled in the province’s annual budget will compel pension plans to disclose whether they have given consideration to environmental, social and governance risks when investing on behalf of plan members.”

Well done Ontario! Hopefully, many other North American jurisdictions will follow.
Ontario leads on sustainable investment of pension funds, press release, March 29, 2011, Service Employees International Union Canada (SEIUC), Canada.

Americans Polled On Issues Related To Green Consumption. – [COMMENTARY] “As I have done for the past several years (see 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010), I’ve waded through the latest tranche of data — nearly a score of research reports from major agencies (Gallup, Harris, Ogilvy), boutique firms (BBMG, Cone, Shelton) and some lesser-knowns (Mambo Sprouts Marketing, anyone?) — that has come out over the past several months. It’s a tedious, mind-numbing exercise, to be sure.” This is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in green investing.
Earth Day and the Polling of America 2011, by Joel Makower, March 28, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

US Utilities: Dominion, Southern Company & PPL Corporation, To Provide More Information On Water Use Due To Shareholder Pressure. – [COMMENTARY] “The agreements come as prolonged droughts, growing water demand and climate change place increasing stress on water supplies and create challenges for electric power producers in many parts of the United States. Power plants, including nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas, account for 40 percent of the nation′s freshwater withdrawals…” All big water users should provide such information without shareholders having to pressure them.
As Water Scarcity Risks Grow, Investors Persuade Electric Utilities to Disclose Water Management Plans, press release, March 23, 2011, courtesy of Responsible Investor, Ceres, 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.

Calvert Recognized By Shared Interest For Investing In South African Low Income Communities.  – [COMMENTARY] “At its 17th Annual Awards Dinner, Shared Interest, a leading non-profit social investment fund, paid tribute to two pioneering financial institutions for investing in the well-being of South Africa’s low-income communities and advancing economic and social rights. The Awards Dinner recognized Calvert Investments and Calvert Foundation for their commitment to socially responsible investment to rebuild and serve South Africa’s poor communities. Prudential Financial, Inc. received the Corporate Award for serving as a leading example of corporate citizenship and social responsibility.” Well done Calvert. They have a long history in SRI.
Shared Interest Honors Leading U.S. Financial Institutions, March 17, 2011, CNBC, USA.

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.

SHARE Canada Reports On Proxy Voting Of Canadian Institutional Shareholders. – [COMMENTARY] “When they cast their votes at annual meetings, institutional shareholders are showing a growing intolerance for poor governance practices according the 10th annual Canadian Key Proxy Vote Survey. They are also more willing to tell the public how they are fulfilling their duty to vote in their clients′ interests. Over the last five years, the proportion of survey respondents publicly disclosing their voting record has grown from 11% (2005) to 42% this year.” Canadian institutional investors are gradually voting more openly and responsibly–which is continuing good news.
SHARES 10th annual Canadian Key Proxy Vote Survey March 15, 2011, SHARE, Canada.

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 and
more 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.

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.

Stoxx Launches 3 Islamic Indexes. – [COMMENTARY] “The Stoxx Europe Islamic index and two blue-chip sub-indices, Stoxx Europe Islamic 50 and Euro Stoxx Islamic 50, will measure the performance of sharia-compliant companies selected from the Stoxx Europe 600 index.” More such indexes are always welcome. It shows a growing interest and recognition of Islamic finance and investing.
Stoxx expands with sharia-compliant indices, by Aamina Zafar, March 3, 2011, FT Advisor, UK.

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.

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