Finance and SRI News

The Problem with Measuring the Future in Minutes: The NRG Story

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - A recent story in the New York Times drew attention to some of the challenges to be faced in making big societal changes, such as overhauling a nation’s entire energy system that had run, relatively undisturbed for close to a hundred years.

It told the tale of the less-than-seamless transformation by NRG Energy, framing it as a cautionary tale with echoes of Icarus, who got a little too close to the sun, only to plunge to his demise with the melting of his waxen wings. The company was a traditional electric utility, a big one, producing massive amounts of power, from traditional sources including, coal, natural gas and nuclear. In 2014, they were the fourth largest emitters of carbon dioxide among the nation’s power companies.

This was a difficult time, with shifting tectonics undermining any sense of stability. The ugly head of climate change had been reared long enough and high enough that it had become impossible for all but fools to deny. Investment money for cleaner sources of power began to flow, sending solar and wind costs plummeting. Fossil fuel giants, seeking to fend off the perceived renewable threat, conducted a successful counter-attack in the form of fracking. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The US become the world largest oil and gas producer, literally overnight.

What followed was the equivalent of several ocean-going supertankers finding themselves on a collision course, with not enough time to turn around. David Crane was CEO of NRG from 2003 until suddenly he wasn’t at the end of last year. Crane had seen what climate change was going to mean to his industry.  Then he proceeded to do all the right things, or at least what would be considered the right things in a rational world. He made substantial long term investments in renewable power sources such as wind and solar. In doing so, he became recognized as a leader in the growing CSR movement, and a hero to many on the green side of things. But as Crane says in a blog at Greenbiz entitled, “If I was right, why was I fired?” He was trying to transform the company from brown-to-green, but investors didn’t like it.

JPMorgan Chase Leads The Way in Positive Banking

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Powerful forces are reshaping the banking industry, where the time is ripe for banks to reimagine their role in society and recognise their potential to create change to generate business value by creating social value.

New Data Highlights Investor Preference for Sustainable Companies

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Sustainable investing is emerging as an important trend around the world. A growing number of investors now believe that a company’s sustainability performance is materially important to their investment decision-making. For investors, a company’s effective management of its ESG risks and opportunities can be an indicator that the company is a serious long-term player with a potential competitive advantage over others. 

Public and Private Financing Key to a Low-Carbon Future

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – At the 2015 Paris climate change summit, over 190 countries made a commitment to invest in renewable energy, reduce GHG emissions and increase resilience to climate impacts. Several donors pledged financial support to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and multilateral development banks (MDBs) committed to significantly increasing their share of climate financing.

Starbucks Issues $500M Sustainability Bonds

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Sustainability bonds are used to finance projects with a social impact, but they differ from the more prevalent green bonds, which fund environmental projects. According to Bloomberg, 21 sustainability bonds have been issued globally since 2012, which have raised $4.6 billion. The majority of issuers until now have been development banks and financial firms, rather than corporations.

Campaign Launches to Achieve Goal of 100 Women as CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – One in four Americans believe "humans will colonise Mars" before half of Fortune 500 CEOs will be women. This humorous conclusion riffs on the sober truth of today's corporate reality: only 21 women are at the helm of Fortune 500 companies; only one-woman CEO was added to that small group in 2015.

Ben Bernanke and Milton Friedman Were Right: Helicopter Money or Qualitative Easing?

Guest blog by Hazel Henderson, Ethical Markets Media

President Reagan’s famed economic adviser Milton Friedman often thought outside the economics box.  In 1969, Friedman proposed that the best way to stimulate economies was to take bundles of cash up in helicopters and throw them out for everyone.  His student, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, referring to Friedman’s idea, earned the nickname “Helicopter Ben.” 

Investment Fund Aims to Reduce Income Inequality in the U.S.

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Nearly 15 percent of Americans fall below the poverty line, which is set at about $24,000 a year for a family of four. Historically, foundations have helped the disadvantaged by granting money to nonprofits to provide social services. But now, some are supporting for-profit enterprises that aim to bridge the glaring income gap between those at the top and the bottom of the pyramid.

Investors Link Sustainability with Financial Performance: BCG Report

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – For any company, it is critically important to understand the priorities of its investors. Companies readapt their corporate strategy and behavior based on their understanding of investor interests. Corporate sustainability is increasingly important for investors, as evidence grows that companies' ESG performance has an impact on long-term financial success.

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