“The battle for hearts and wallets, like the planet, is heating up,” concludes The Economist, in an article about the growing divestment campaign against energy companies that depend on fossil fuels. So far, 220 cities and institutions—including Stanford University’s $21 billion endowment—have divested holdings.
From the Editor
ESG-driven tools and products for investment continue to be developed by financial institutions to help investors, asset managers, and analysts more accurately define a company’s valuation. The most recent offering comes from Calvert Investments, which has launched a new initiative that it describes as “the next step” in the evolution of responsible investing.
The reasons for companies to be more sustainable are many: risk avoidance, consumer/society demand, cost savings from reductions in use of resources, lower costs of renewable energy, and a more motivated workforce. The final rationale is an enhanced bottom line with increased profits earned from sustainable strategies and practices. But the overarching principle could be summed up simply as good governance. Certainly, investors who are flocking to sustainable investments think so.
USA Today, the most widely circulated newspaper in the U.S., has discovered socially responsible investing. An “AdviceIQ” column gives an overview of the field for its large audience (average daily paid circulation: 1.8 million copies) in “Investing To Do Good.” Author Kimberly J.
In the U.S., we tend to think of Canadian companies as more like American firms than not, especially since so many are multinationals, and since so much Canadian business is closely integrated with U.S. markets.
The just-concluded G-7 meeting had many Big Issues on its agenda—Ukraine, sanctions against Russia, the overall stagnant European economy. Also on the list was an item about an unprecedented topic: supply chain standards. Globalization has brought heightened scrutiny to workers’ rights and environmental conditions in developing countries where goods for the world’s richer economies are produced. So far, business has taken the lead in addressing these issues.
Energy from wind is now the cheapest form of new electricity generation, thanks to a drop in costs of more than 50% over the past five years. Investment advisory The Motley Fool picks four companies as investment winners as wind energy continues to grow. GE sold 2,879 wind turbines in 2014, making it one of the largest manufacturers. Siemens continues to pioneer the manufacture of equipment for offshore wind farms. Vestas Wind Systems projects €7.5 billion in revenue this year.
Companies that view their employees as “human capital,” creators of bottom line value rather than as an expense to be managed as cheaply as possible, outperform the competition. That’s the finding of a study by Alex Edmans, a professor of finance at London Business School and Wharton. His paper, Does the Stock Market Fully Value Intangibles?
The EPA has issued a new rule that clarifies its authority under the Clean Water Act. This follows its proposed “Clean Power Plan regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal powered utility plants.
What are the most energy efficient cities in the country? If you guessed eco-pioneering San Francisco, Austin, or Portland, OR, you’re wrong. The list issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, as reported by Energy Manager Today, features three of the oldest US cities as the leaders: Boston, New York City, and Washington DC. The reason?
Here’s a meaningful statistical snapshot from a recent Forbes blog that indicates some measurable progress: today, 72 percent of companies in the S&P 500 Index publish sustainability reports; in 2011, that figure was 20 percent. This rapid rise in reporting is causing change where it really counts, in the measurement of supply chain practices.
John Elkington has a new gig. The man called “the dean of the corporate responsibility movement” for the last 30 years, and who coined the term “the triple bottom line” in 1994, has moved on to Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship, and innovation movements.
The World Travel and Tourism Council is urging its member companies to adopt the reporting of ESG issues so that the sector can measure its impacts and its economic contributions.
A majority of the country’s leading healthcare executives supports the shift to a value-based reimbursement system, according to Modern Healthcare’s first CEO Power Panel survey. Of 55 CEO’s polled, 78% said the new business model of pay-for-results should take the place of the traditional fee-for-service method.
The latest example of the mainstream investment world discovering impact investing can be found in a recent Forbes blog. Kevin Mahn writes, “a growing number of investors are considering sustainable, impact, environmental and social responsible factors in the asset allocation decision making process.” Mahn reports those “growing numbers” in dollars as $6.57 trillion in the U.S.
Energy growth in the U.S. through 2040 will rise slightly in the business and industry sectors, flatline in residential, and decline in transportation. That’s according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2015. The leveling off in home energy use is attributed to the widespread adoption of energy efficient technologies in home appliances and a population shift to warmer climates—energy used for space cooling is much less than that for heating.
The big quake in Nepal happened last Saturday. By Monday morning, efforts by businesses large and small were underway to send help to the stricken country. The social media giants were on point quickly: Googe deployed its Person Finder tool while Facebook promoted its Safety Check app. Telecommunications companies pitched in: Verizon waived texting and calling charges and matched employee donations, while free calling was offered by Microsoft’s Skype, Vonage, and Time Warner Cable. United Airlines offered its transportation services.
The term “shared economy” has surged to the level of “innovation” and “disruption” as a buzzword of the moment in progressive business jargon. A more accurate description, if less catchy, would be the “rental” economy. After all, Uber, Airbnb, Snapgoods, TaskRabbit, Lending Club, and other such startups offer goods and services rented out for a fee. The practice does imply a considerable amount of trust among those willing to offer their personal homes, cars, and other goods for use by strangers, however vetted.
The universe of values-driven investing continues to expand at an accelerating rate.
Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to bring attention to environmental issues. Since then, the annual day’s events have brought worldwide attention to those issues—it has done its job well. So well, in fact, that it has become a “singing with the choir” moment within the other 364 days of the year during which hundreds of thousands of people get up every day and go to work on those issues. So let’s take a “day” to celebrate the progress made since 1970, and to acknowledge the challenges still ahead.