May 2011

New Corporate ESG Asia Rankings. – [COMMENTARY] “Research and advisory firm RepuTex has launched the first service that rates the environment, social and government (ESG) performance of listed companies in Asia outside of Japan. Primarily aimed at the investment community, the RepuTex ESG Data Service currently covers 1,100 companies representing 95 percent of the region’s market capitalization.” Their top five rankings are: MTR Corporation Limited (AA Rating, Hong Kong), Plus Expressways Bhd (AA Rating, Malaysia), Swire Pacific Ltd (AA Rating, Hong Kong), Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd (AA- Rating, Korea), and Woongjin Coway Co. Ltd (AA- Rating, Korea).
First Asian ESG ratings highlight changing investor attitudes, May 30, 2011, CleanBiz, USA.

CEOs See Sustainability As Growth Opportunity. – [COMMENTARY] “A new research study published today by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture shows major differences in perceptions of sustainability between CEOs in different industry sectors, and significant gaps in the level of integration of sustainability already achieved in their companies, despite an overall trend towards seeing sustainability as an opportunity for value creation and business success.” This study provides useful insight into the CEO mindset within some key industries.
Sustainability Splits Industry Sectors, Finds Major UN Global Compact and Accenture Study as CEOs Increasingly see Sustainability as an Engine for Growth, May 25, 2011, UN Global Compact-Accenture, UK/USA.

FTSE4Good Says Assets Under Management Incorporating ESG Now $10.1 Trillion. – [COMMENTARY] “The growth in assets under management that incorporate ESG is hard to ignore, currently over $10.1 trillion, a four-fold increase since 2006. This growth has been driven by institutional investors, government regulation, transnational investor-led initiatives, increased retail investor interest, and heightened external scrutiny, such as NGOs and the media.” Well done FTSE4Good on your 10th anniversary! Their report is a useful read for all ethical investors.
FTSE4Good 1O years of impact & investment, May 24, 2011, FTSE4Good, UK.

41% Of Canadians Prefer An Ethical Portfolio, Even If It Delivers Lower Returns. – [COMMENTARY] “We asked respondents to review three types of portfolios: one that was more ethical with a lower return (Portfolio 1), one with lower ethics and a higher return (Portfolio 3), and another balanced between the two (Portfolio 2). Overall, Canadians were fairly split between Portfolio 1 (41%) and Portfolio 2 (46%), with slightly more Canadians choosing the balanced investment option. Only 13% chose more money over less ethical behavior.”

It is clear the majority of Canadians continue to desire ethical investments. In practice though, not many ’follow what they preach.’ So there is still a big job to actualize their desire with what they actually invest in.
Ethical investment in Canada–a real market exists, May 18, 2011, Abacus Data, Canada.

UK Charities Ethical Investing Assets Lower. – [COMMENTARY] “A survey into the financial management of 64 charities with an annual income over £1m has found that those charities have reduced their ethical and socially responsible investments from one-third to one-fifth.”

The reason for this, apparently, is that the fund managers believe they will get lower returns from ethical investments. Quite likely the UK charities are under enormous financial pressure and forcing their fund managers into looking at short term, frequently ’non-ethical’ assets, for relatively quick gains. Such short sightedness is very sad. There are recycles to all investment classes and styles, and ethical investments over the long term have been shown to be as profitable as their conventional counterparts.

This also indicates to me a weak moral attitude in UK charity governance.
Ethical investment by top charities falls, finds survey, by Niki May Young, May 23, 2011, Civil Society, UK.

UK Finally Provides New Green bank Details. – [COMMENTARY] “Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the bank will open for business next April and will likely focus initially on investing in areas such as offshore wind, waste and non-domestic energy efficiency. The bank will be capitalized with an initial 3 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) from the Treasury coffers but will be given independence from the Treasury and will be able to borrow in the capital markets and from the private sector from April 2015.”

This will really be fascinating to watch! I wish them good luck–but am concerned about funds being advanced for political reasons rather than based on economics and sustainability.
United Kingdom Plans World’s First State-Backed Green Investment Bank, by Jane Wardell, May 23, 2011, Huffington Post, UK.

Potential Opportunities In Water Industry. – [COMMENTARY] “At this year’s H2O Global Water Summit in Toronto, Canada, two hundred of the world’s leading water companies and authorities gathered to assess the latest market developments. The event provided a telling barometer of opportunities and challenges in the water industry.” Issues and even investment opportunities in everything ’water’ might surpass that of energy by 2025. One can reduce energy usage. But you cannot live without water!
The Water Industry: A Massive Market Bubbles to the Surface, by Heather King, May 23, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

Corporate Sustainability Spending Could Rise 50-100% By 2013, Says Verdantix. – [COMMENTARY] “Firms in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada with $1 billion-plus revenue will dole out roughly $60 billion in 2013 on workers, equipment or implementation of strategies directly related to sustainability, climate change, carbon management or energy efficiency.” Firms are finally grasping the fact that sustainability can mean big savings, thus increase profits.
Could 2013 Be a Tipping Point for Sustainability Spending? By Tilde Herrera, May 20, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.

Spectrum Group Reports 48% Of US Investors With $100,000 In Investments Favour SRIs. – [COMMENTARY] “Forty-three percent of investors with a net worth of $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) consider a company′s corporate responsibility and societal concerns as an investment factor. This is up slightly from 2010. Socially responsible investing is a greater priority for younger investors ages 54 and under with nearly half (48 percent) considering it as an investment factor versus 36 percent of investors ages 65 and up. While this age group is the least likely to consider the social responsibility of their investments, this number, too, is up from last year.”

SRI-ethical investing continues to gain ground in the US. With the unresolved unethical practices in business and finance, SRI-ethical investing is likely to continue to gain momentum.
Socially responsible investing continues as an investment factor, May 18, 2011, Spectrum Group, USA.

Genocide-Free Investing Gains Momentum at JPMorgan Chase. – [COMMENTARY] “The shareholder proposal on “Genocide-free investing” earned 7.69 percent of the vote at today’s JPMorgan Chase shareholder meeting. The favorable vote is more than double the 3% required for the proposal to be presented at next year′s meeting and is a solid result given that 74 percent of outstanding shares are held by institutional investors.” It is important that companies be held to account for their participation with regimes that promote genocide and other inhuman acts.
Genocide-Free Investing Gains Momentum at JPMorgan Chase, May 18, 2011, press release, Investors Against Genocide, USA.

SRI Poised For Evolution, Bank Says. – [COMMENTARY] “Socially responsible investing has undergone a ’spectacular’ transformation in recent years and is ready to move to the next level, according to a report from German commercial bank WestLB. The 120-page report states that the SRI market continues to grow strongly in both absolute and relative terms.” This is a great report for all investors.
SRI poised for evolution, bank says, May 17, 2011, SRI Monitor, Canada.

Nike’s Sustainability Report Wins Top Ceres-ACCA Award. – [COMMENTARY] “Nike′s report addresses the new context within which business must operate—one with a rising global population, decreasing natural resources, and an unstable climate—and reveals how Nike, in an effort to take a competitive advantage, is shifting to a more sustainable business model.” Congratulations to Nike! There are other winners too that ethical investors might want to look at.
Ceres-ACCA Reporting Awards, May 11, 2011, press release, Ceres, USA.

Installed Global Renewable Energy Output Now Greater Than Nuclear. – [COMMENTARY] “For the first time in 2010 total renewable energy from three specific sources – wind turbines, biomass and waste-to-energy plants, and solar power – exceeded the total global nuclear power generation capacity.” This is great news, especially when you consider how enormously subsidized is nuclear. I’ve read that for every dollar of government subsidy for renewables, governments give $40 to nuclear! Eliminate all subsidies to nuclear, oil and gas, etc., and renewables will reign supreme.
Power from renewable sources surpasses N-power for the first time news, May 10, 2011,, India.

Canadian SRI Assets Hold Steady. – [COMMENTARY] “Socially responsible assets in Canada dropped marginally to $531 billion as of June 30, 2010, compared with $579 billion in 2008, according to the biennial SRI review, released today by the Social Investment Organization. However, SRI still represents about one-fifth of total Canadian assets under management, about the same level as 2008.” Most SRI assets in Canada are held by pension funds. A substantial breakthrough in the retail market would be really great though.
SRI assets hold steady, May 5, 2011, SRI Monitor, Canada.

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