Ethical Investing News/Commentaries:
Commentaries by Ron
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Ernst & Young Report Shows Increasing Number
Of CSR Related Shareholder Resolutions. -
[COMMENTARY] "The report tracks
a nearly 40 percent growth in the number of
environmental and social sustainability resolutions
filed since 2000, and projects that fully half of
all shareholder resolutions filed in 2011 will be
CSR-related." These resolutions are also gaining
increased shareholder support. And that is good news
Trends in Sustainability-Focused Shareholder
Resolutions, May 3, 2011, Ernst & Young, USA.
French SRI Assets Up 35% In One Year. -
[COMMENTARY] "Today Novethic is
releasing the results of its exclusive annual review
of the French market for Socially Responsible
Investment (SRI). SRI assets under management owned
by French clients reached EUR 68.3 billion,
representing a 35% increase between the end of 2009
and the end of 2010. This robust growth stems from
the conversion of large existing funds to SRI and
buoyant employee savings, despite the relatively
challenging context for asset management." More
evidence that SR-ethical investing continues to make
inroads on the European continent.
Novethic: SRI up 35% in France: Steady Growth Driven
by the Conversion of Existing Funds, press
release, April 29, 2011, Novethic, France.
Greenpeace Ranks Tech Giants On Their Data
Centre’s Coal Dependency. -
[COMMENTARY] "The report ranks
operators of major data centers -- Apple, Facebook,
Google, etc. -- according to a number of factors,
including their source of electricity, i.e. whether
the cloud is powered by coal, natural gas, wind,
hydro, or other energy sources." Yahoo!
comes out on top, with Apple being the worst.
However, there are caveats regarding the quality of the
Dirty clouds: Greenpeace ranks tech giants on their
data centers′ coal dependency, by Todd Woody,
April 25, 2011, grist, USA.
Dow Jones Indexes Named ’Best
Shariah-Compliant Index Provider.’ -
[COMMENTARY] "Dow Jones Indexes,
a leading global index provider, today announced
that, for the fourth consecutive time, it was named
"Best Shari’ah Compliant Index Provider of the Year"
by Global Finance magazine. Dow Jones Indexes has
now won this category in each of the four years
Global Finance has honoured the ’World’s Best
Islamic Financial Institutions’. The award pays
tribute to Dow Jones Indexes’ existing market share
and index launches across the Middle East region, as
well as its contribution to the growth of Islamic
finance. All selections were made by Global Finance
editors after extensive consultations with bankers,
corporate finance executives and analysts throughout
Shariah-compliant investing is one of the fastest
growing forms of ethical investing globally.
Congratulations to Dow Jones!
Dow Jones Indexes Named ’Best Shari’ah Compliant
Index Provider’ for Fourth Consecutive Year by
Global Finance Magazine, April 25, 2011, Dow
Jones press release, UK.
European Firms Failing In Carbon Emissions
[COMMENTARY] "Less than half of
Europe’s top 300 firms are publishing full and
verified carbon emission data, with French and Swiss
companies ranking worst at greenhouse gas reporting,
a study showed Tuesday. British financial services
company Aviva placed first in the rankings based on
emissions and levels of disclosure and verification,
while Polish mining company KGHM came in last,
according to the non-profit Environmental Investment
Organisation (EIO)." European companies
generally lead in carbon reporting, so the reporting
problem is probably worse elsewhere.
Majority of European firms fail on carbon reporting:
study, April 26, 2011, AFP, UK.
Much US Corporate Political Spending
[COMMENTARY] "Despite mounting
calls for greater transparency, only a few of the
country’s 75 leading energy, health care and
financial services corporations fully disclose
political spending, according to a review of company
records and state and federal campaign finance
reports." What a sham. No wonder the US voting
public feels so disenfranchised and that the US is
declining in stature by almost any measure. And
why ethical investors increasingly consider putting
funds in non-US investments!
Much corporate political spending stays hidden,
by Noam N. Levy and Kim Geiger, April 23, 2011,
Kansas City Star, USA.
Bolivia About To Enact A ’Mother Earth’ Law. -
[COMMENTARY] "...the law
requires the government to transition from
non-renewable to renewable energy; to develop new
economic indicators that will assess the ecological
impact of all economic activity; to carry out
ecological audits of all private and state
companies; to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas
emissions; to develop policies of food and renewable
energy sovereignty; to research and invest resources
in energy efficiency, ecological practices, and
organic agriculture; and to require all companies
and individuals to be accountable for environmental
contamination with a duty to restore damaged
Well done Bolivia! This small country might be
setting the standard for all other countries to
eventually follow as countries everywhere realize the full
implications of global climate change.
The Law of Mother Earth: Behind Bolivia′s Historic
Bill, by Nick Buxton, April 21, 2011,
UPDATED: Allianz Global Investors’ Study Says ESG
Reduces Portfolio Risk. -
[COMMENTARY] "The study found
the tail risk of an ESG risk neutral emerging market
equity strategy defined by the MSCI Emerging Markets
Index can be reduced from -64.5 p.a. to -38.8 per
cent. The same is true for corporate bonds defined
by the Merrill Lynch Global Broad Market Corporate
Index, it added, where the tail risk ‒ measured as
conditional value at risk (95 per cent) of the
default strategy ‒ can be reduced from -8.1 per cent
p.a. to -4.9 per cent. ESG risk factors are also
important for core asset classes such as developed
market equity." This is highly useful
information. Source document now available.
ESG Strategies Improve Efficiency, April 19,
2011, Benefits & Pensions Monitor, Canada.
55% Of US Corporate Executives Say Their
Company Has A Formal Sustainability Strategy In
[COMMENTARY] "Nearly 55 percent
of U.S. executives say their organization has a
formal sustainability strategy in place, according
to the recent KPMG International study, Corporate
Sustainability: A progress report. Another 12
percent say they are working on a strategy and an
additional 19 percent expect to eventually develop a
formal plan. The findings also confirm that U.S.
companies are closing the gap with their
counterparts elsewhere. More than 62 percent of
executives globally say they have implemented a
formal sustainability program..." US companies
seem to be catching up to European counterparts.
That’s good and about time.
Majority of U.S. Companies Report Progress in
Adopting Sustainability Strategy; More Programs
Expected, Says KPMG Survey, press release, April
18, 2011, KPMG, USA.
Many BP Shareholders Vote Disapprovingly Of
Management, Directors. -
[COMMENTARY] "25 percent of
investors who voted ahead of the AGM -- representing
60 percent of shares -- voted against the
re-election of the head of BP’s safety committee,
Bill Castell." Considering the horrendous damage
BP wrought in the Gulf, it would seem that there
should have been a change of guard at the company!
BP faces angry oil spill protesters at AGM, by
Tom Bergin, April 15, 2011, Reuters, UK.
SolarWorld Earns Highest Green Score Among Top
10 PV Makers. -
[COMMENTARY] "German PV maker
SolarWorld earned the best environmental grade of
the 10 largest manufacturers in the industry with a
score of 91 out of possible 100 points for practices
in four categories: recycling, green jobs, toxics
and disclosure. Trina Solar, based in China,
followed in second place with a score of 89. Tying
for third place with scores of 87 were two firms
among the top 10 largest, REC of Norway and First
Solar of the U.S., and another U.S. firm, Abound
Solar." Most investors are unaware that the
making of PVs can be quite environmentally
unfriendly. So if you’re an ethical investor
interested in this sector, you might want to read
SolarWorld Earns Highest Green Score Among Top 10 PV
Makers, by Leslie Guevarra, April 12, 2011,
Nuns Challenge Goldman Sachs Over Executive
[COMMENTARY] "Sisters of St
Francis and members of Interfaith Center on
Corporate Responsibility [ICCR] will attend Goldman’s
annual meeting." Will the GS board be humbled?
It would be nice to think so! Wishing all success to the
nuns and to the ICCR.
Nuns challenge Goldman Sachs over executive pay,
by Dominic Rushe, April 12, 2011, The Guardian,
World′s First Halal Food Index. -
[COMMENTARY] "The halal food
industry has now become an asset class within the
investment community with the launch of the world′s
first halal food indices, called SAMI (Socially
Acceptably Market Investments) Halal Food Index and
SAMI Halal Participation Index... The SAMI Halal
Food Index comprises 200 companies listed in
Muslim-majority countries with a total market
capitalisation of over $100b.
Of the 200 companies in the index, almost half (95)
are Malaysian with market capitalisation of $53b,
while others are from Saudi Arabia, Turkey,
Indonesia and Nigeria."
With the huge economic growth of the Mid East and
Asia, western ethical investors will want to keep an
eye open to possible new and unusual ethical
World′s first halal food index, April 13, 2011,
Deutsche Börse Launches Information Portal
With STOXX Global ESG Leaders Index Family. -
[COMMENTARY] "The information
portal for sustainable securities is aimed at
private and institutional investors. The portal
helps investors to make their individual investment
decisions according to standard sustainability
criteria. The information portal enables investors
to develop their own strategies for sustainable
investments in a transparent way and to assess the
sustainability of existing investments. The portal
also enables companies to filter their activities in
line with the ESG criteria: environmental, social
and governance considerations." For a number of
reasons, German investment in ethical stocks has
lagged. This might help improve the situation there.
Deutsche Börse launches information portal for
sustainable securities, press release, April 11,
2011, Deutsche Börse, Germany.
Unilever, General Electric, Interface,
Wal-Mart And Marks & Spencer, Top SustainAbility’s
2011 Sustainable Leaders List. -
[COMMENTARY] "Some 559
sustainability experts from corporations,
government, non-government organizations, academia
and entities that provide services, such as
consultancies, participated in the online survey
last month that focused on perceptions of
sustainability leadership... conducted by research
firm GlobeScan Incorporated and SustainAbility Ltd."
One useful study would be to see if there is any
correlation between SustainAbility’s rankings and
their relative stock market performances.
Nonetheless, it is an interesting survey to review.
Unilever Tops List of Sustainability Leaders, by
Leslie Guevarra, April 11, 2011, GreenBiz, USA.
STOXX Launches Global ESG Leaders Index Family
In Collaboration With Sustainalytics. -
[COMMENTARY] "STOXX Limited...
today introduced the STOXX Global ESG Leaders Index
family, an innovative series of ESG (environmental,
social, governance) indices which is based on
sustainability data provided by Sustainalytics, a
leading global provider of ESG research and
analysis... Based on data provided by
Sustainalytics, this index model will, for the first
time, allow investors to fully understand which
factors determine a company′s ESG rating and their
These new indexes appear very interesting for
ethical investors and the ability to tease out what
ESG factor(s) go into its rating/performance will be
STOXX partners with Sustainalytics and launches
Global ESG Leaders Indices, press release, April
11, STOXX/Sustainalytics, Switzerland.
Bloomberg Markets Magazine Ranks World’s
Greenest Banks. -
[COMMENTARY] "Banco Santander,
Spain′s biggest bank, got the first place... Goldman
Sachs took the second place and Italy-based holding
company UniCredit ranked third." Unfortunately,
for the entire list and commentary a subscription to
the magazine is required.
World′s top 10 greenest banks ranked, by Jen
Balboa, April 7, 2011, EcoSeed, USA.
Cleantech Venture Capital Investments Way Up.
[COMMENTARY] "This week we
released preliminary 1Q 2011 results for clean
technology venture investments in North America,
Europe, China and India, totaling $2.57 billion
across 159 companies. Measured by dollars invested,
cleantech venture investment was up 52% compared to
the previous quarter ($1.69 billion) and was also
31% percent higher than Q1 of 2010." Good news
for the environment and investors. However, though
no breakdown is given, it might well be that China
leads the rankings.
A Record Q1 for Cleantech Investment, press
release, April 8, 2011, Cleantech, USA.
One-Third Of UK Wealthy Interested In Social
Investment, Says Nesta. -
[COMMENTARY] "The research...
quizzed 505 people with investment assets ranging
from £50,000 to £1m on their interest in social
investment... Those under 40 years of age were more
likely than those over 55 to be receptive to social
or ethical investments. The research also found that
when considering making social investments,
two-thirds (67 per cent) of wealthy individuals are
likely to invest in a financial product that
benefits society as well as giving a comparable
return on their money."
This research adds to the already significant
body of evidence that investors want to invest
socially responsible and ethically.
New research shows wealthy individuals are engaged
with social investment, by Vibeka Mair, April 7,
2011, Civilsociety.co.uk, UK.
New Proxy Monitor Site. -
light on shareholder proposals submitted to publicly
traded corporations via the annual proxy process.
This site is sponsored by the Center for Legal
Policy, part of the non-partisan and non-profit
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research."
This is another useful site whereby ethical investors can
research to see the results of environmental, social
and governance initiatives among the world’s largest
FTSE4Good Launches Corporate ESG Ratings. -
[COMMENTARY] "A decade after the
launch of the FTSE4Good Index Series, FTSE Group has
launched a new FTSE4Good ratings system that is
designed to measure environmental, social and
governance (ESG) factors. FTSE Group claimed this
new data service provides a comprehensive,
transparent and objective system to measure ESG
practices of over 2,300 public companies worldwide."
FTSE4Good is likely to be a formidable competitor in
this space. However, it’s good for ethical
FTSE4Good launches corporate ESG ratings, by
Donia O’Loughlin, April 6, 2011, FT Advisor,
Canadian Shareholder Proposals On Women’s
Board Representation Voted Down. -
[COMMENTARY] "Shareholders of
Canada′s major banks are overwhelmingly voting down
a proposal to increase the number of women on the
boards of the country′s biggest companies, amid
sparse support from the financial institutions
themselves." Support for these proposals has
been abysmal averaging only about 7% even though the
banks in particular have significant numbers of
women in various management positions.
Shareholders vote no to more women on bank boards,
by Grant Robertson and Janet McFarland, April 5,
2011, The Globe & Mail, Canada.
Alberta Unveils New Oil Sands Environmental
Plan That Limits Some Companies’ Growth. -
[COMMENTARY] "The Alberta
government has unveiled a new conservation plan for
the oil sands region on Tuesday that would require
the cancellation of about 10 oil-sands leases, set
aside nearly 20,000 square kilometers for
conservation and set new environmental standards for
the region." Alberta has been subject to huge
criticism concerning the environmental impacts of
oil sands development. It seems it is just now
beginning to take some kind of action to mitigate
those problems. However, it may well be a case of
too little too late.
Alberta unveils conservation proposal, by Tim
Shufelpril 5, 2011, Financial Post, Canada.
Huge Investor Group Asks World’s Largest
Companies To Implement Greenhouse Gas Reduction
[COMMENTARY] "A vanguard group of
34 institutional investors with $7.6trn (€5.3trn) in
assets is calling on the world’s largest companies
to implement cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions
reduction initiatives. The request is being made
through the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) new
Carbon Action initiative, which has been launched in
response to investor requirements to protect their
investments and accelerate company action on carbon
This is indeed a powerful investor lobby group
and perhaps the world’s largest companies might
listen to them.
Investor group tells companies to come clean on
carbon, by Nina Röhrbein, April 4, 2011, IPE,
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