The latest in a series of proposed E.P.A. controls on air pollution, to curb ozone emissions, raises ROI issues. By 2025, when the regulation would be fully in force, the cost to industry could range from $3.9 billion to $15 billion, according to E.P.A. projections. Against this projected expense, the agency estimates that the economic benefits of the rule – in avoided asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school and work days, and premature deaths – far outweigh the costs. It calculates the benefits in 2025 at $6.4 billion to $38 billion annually.
From the Editor
The market for green bonds is blowing up: from $11 billion in 2013 to about $34 billion so far this year. Some analysts project a $100 billion market in 2015. But there’s a basic question to be answered if this market is going to be sustainable: what makes a bond “green?” The Climate Bonds Initiative offers standards in the renewable energy and building sectors, and is developing definitions for other areas.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced its annual Green Power Leadership Awards. The 2014 winners were selected for their use of green power from more than 1,300 organizations that make up EPA’s Green Power Partnership. This year’s winning 19 Green Power Partners and four suppliers use a combined total of more than 7.6 billion kilowatt hours of green power annually. Through the Partnership, EPA works with Fortune 500 companies; small and medium size businesses; local, state, and federal governments; and colleges and universities.
Twenty percent of $45 trillion is a big number: $9 trillion, to be exact. That’s the amount forecast to be invested by the top 125 leading impact investors this year, according to a study by the Global Impact Investment Network and JPMorgan Chase. The $45 trillion? That’s the amount of dollars parked in mainstream investment funds that includes ESG factors in investment decisions.
More than 700 corporate sustainability practitioners were polled for the sixth annual BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Survey, published in conjunction with the Business for Social Responsibility Conference, held last week in New York. This year’s research focused on transparency in business and sustainability, echoing the conference’s theme. The survey revealed seven key findings.
At U.S. business conferences, conversations about transparency tend to focus on data on executive compensation, governance, and making more information available to stakeholders. Globally, the discussion focuses on the large amount of money estimated to be skimmed off business and philanthropy activities annually: an estimated $1 trillion. These are investment and donated dollars that are lost to making positive change.
Some SRI investment firms have spelled out the values they look for in sustainability reporting. Their comments were made in letters to support a nominee for the best CSR disclosure award at this year’s Corporate Governance Awards, to be given at Corporate Secretary’s Best Practices Symposium on Nov. 5.
“Investors are now well aware that sustainable energy technologies can provide great investments.” So says The Motley Fool, the multi-services financial company, in its latest investment advisory. It notes that the sector has its skeptics, but also reports that between 2004 to 2012, electricity generation from renewable sources increased by 39%. “By 2015, the consumption of solar energy is expected to more than double from 2012 levels, while wind and biodiesel will enjoy gains of 39% and 67%, respectively.” Those growth figures should interest any investor.
“Sustainability Goes Mainstream: Insights into Investor Views,” a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Investor Resource Institute, outlines just how significant sustainability has become in the mainstream investment field. The survey polled a mix of institutional investors—asset managers, pension funds, mutual funds, and hedge funds—with $7.6 trillion in assets under management. The Big Ask: evaluate the influence of sustainability issues on investment decisions. The conclusion?
The lack of gender diversity in the technology sector has been well noted. Yahoo and Google have reported 15 and 17 percent women in tech roles, respectively. Until recently, the same minority status was true for the ranks of angel investors, those who commit private money, much of which has historically come from the tech field. However, a new report shows that their number has risen dramatically, from 20,000 in 2005 to 58,000 by the end of last year, according to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research. What’s more, in 2013 23 percent of U.S.
A major perk of corporate work used to be the pension plan, a rare species of benefit today. Now, there’s a more forward-looking offer: some 100,000 employees of 3M, Kimberly-Clark, Cisco Systems, and National Geographic will be able to buy or lease solar power systems for their homes at a lower rate. The Solar Community Initiative is built on the bulk buying volume of thousands of workers to finance the discounts.
A new scorecard from the Solar Energy Industries Association delivers a high grade to the corporate adoption of solar power in the U.S. The top 25 corporate users of solar have more than doubled their capacity over the past two years. Eight of the top 13 companies on the list are big box retailers, led by Walmart, and including Costco, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target, IKEA, Staples, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
It looks like the end for “the double Irish with a Dutch sandwich.” A popular scheme to drastically reduce taxes, DIDS sends profits through an Irish company, then to a Dutch company, and finally to a second Irish company headquartered in a tax haven, such as Bermuda. It’s been a favorite method of tech companies because their global footprint gives plausible cover to an international money shuffle. With growing criticism of the maneuver, Ireland’s finance minister has announced the end of the “double Irish” tax loophole.
As part of its COMMIT!Forum conference held in NYC this week, CR Magazine is publishing the results of its annual survey of corporate reputation. The 2014 report turned up strong support for CSR and a mandate for C-suite leadership. A majority of the 1,000 employed and unemployed workers who were polled, 72 percent, said they want to work for a company whose CEO is actively involved in corporate responsibility and/or environmental issues.
For some time now, the energy news from Canada has been depressingly focused on oil sands production and the major environmental issues caused in the extraction process, from air, soil, and water pollution to toxic emissions. So I’m happy to hear about a positive development by our neighbor to the North. SaskPower International, Saskatchewan’s province-owned utility, has just started operation, according to Bloomberg.
Some good news: 74 countries and over 1,000 businesses and investors have signed on to a major new declaration published by the World Bank calling for a global price on carbon. The declaration asks countries to enact laws that would compel industries to pay for carbon emissions. The likes of Shell, Dow Chemical, and Coca-Cola have signed. So has China. It’s nonbinding, a kind of temperature-taking before the 2015 climate summit in Paris, but the U.S. is still a non-signer, due to strong political opposition to any national legislation on carbon issues.