The initial news from the World Economic Forum, now taking place in Davos, Switzerland is different, for a change.
From the Editor
Rising demand for sustainable investing advice has resulted in new, specialized digital platforms that match values with analytic data. Three firms—OpenInvest, Earthfolio, and Grow Invest—offer easy entry into socially responsible investing with minimum amounts ranging from $1 to $25,000, according to Investment News.
The current debate over the Affordable Care Act feels like déjà vu, all over again. The debates echo those back in 2010 in the run up to passage of the law—except now, there are some facts that should be considered. So argues Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee when the ACA was passed.
China has answered President-elect Trump’s claim that it is the creator of the “hoax” of climate change with a multi-billion dollar bet on renewable sources as its energy future. The country has just announced plans to invest $361 billion dollars in solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power projects by 2020, according to Reuters. By then, renewables will make up half of all its electricity generation.
From my editorial desk, I see a lot of news and many reports from companies about their programs. The articles and reports are variously headlined as corporate responsibility, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and/or corporate citizenship. However titled, the terms can cover a wide range of topics under whatever general categorization is chosen.
“Supply chain” is a relatively bland term to describe an incredibly important part of the sustainability puzzle. It sounds wonky, but its operations in producing goods, from extracting resources to manufacturing, from packaging to transporting to market, are a basic component of modern commerce. Tracking the various components of sustainability—transparency, workers rights, safe workplaces, sustainable sourcing, energy efficiency—throughout complex global supply chains has been a major obstacle to achieving sustainability goals.
Corruption in business around the world is a very big item on business expense sheets, according to recent data. Estimates are that the total is more than five percent of global GDP—$2.6 trillion—and that the cost of doing business globally is increased by up to 10 percent, according to the World Economic Forum and the World Bank. To fight corruption, The B Team and its partners have launched an online tool to reveal the true owners of companies.
NASDAQ has announced some of the best socially responsible investing stocks of 2016, according to the Motley Fool financial advisory. The criteria was simple: companies that outperformed the market while committing to CSR values. Among the top picks are Microsoft (YTD return: 10.6%), Johnson Controls (38.8%), Facebook (12.7%), and UnitedHealthGroup (35.5%).
There’s a twist on the conventional wisdom re. the incoming "conservative" administration, which is widely perceived as pro oil and gas and anti renewables. In a just released poll, 66% of “ very conservative” voters joined 95% of “total liberals” in expressing strong support of clean energy.
Planetsave has published a blog by Carolyn Fortune that distinguishes SRI (socially responsible investment) from ESG-driven (environment, social, governance) investment, a field of activity that overlaps but is quite distinct from SRI. Fortune describes ESG investment as a strategy that incorporates ESG criteria into investment analysis.
Still confused about SRI (socially responsible investment) and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investment? Planetsave has published a blog by Carolyn Fortune that explains all concisely. SRI is an exclusionary strategy that steers clear of products and services that are not consistent with a green/progressive agenda.
In the face of claims by president-elect Donald Trump that he will eliminate the EPA, roll back environmental regulations, bring back coal production, and withdraw from the COP21 Paris Agreement, the private sector is pushing back by highlighting corporate goals to reduce carbon emissions. 365 US companies —including Nike, Starbucks, and Levi Strauss—have signed a letter urging the incoming Trump administration to remain committed to the Paris Agreement.
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers amazing possibilities to the healthcare sector. Hospitals have a wide range of energy uses in their facilities, so there are great opportunities to drive energy efficiency and cut costs, reports Energy Manager Today. The real-time data provided by advanced technology also allows managers to track care more accurately, from monitoring equipment to checking on patients for maximum efficiency and a higher standard of care.
A select group of very large corporations make many of the headlines about sustainability. Partly, it’s a function of their leadership in publically announcing ambitious goals for innovative practices and strategies. It’s also a function of their scale, because big moves toward sustainability by large corporations have the possibility of making major changes. That makes for big news. Walmart can now be added to the list of the usual suspects in this category.
A Biblical seven years—that’s how long it took Canada and the EU to conclude a new trade pact.
While the big-ticket items—Tesla EVs, LED bulbs, solar power panels—may get the most mainstream press coverage, less sexy but even more transformative subjects such as recyclable packaging and healthier food ingredients are making progress in ways that touch many more people in everyday life. Cosmetics are another sector where, almost unnoticed, significant advances are being made. Major players such as L’Oreal, Croda, IFF, and Unilever have moved sustainability to the top of their agendas.
Climate change has been almost completely absent from discussion by major party candidates in the current political cycle . But almost unnoticed, renewable energy that will make a difference in controlling rising global temperatures has been growing quickly. Solar power in the US is expected to almost triple by 2017, according to the US Department of Energy.
I read two different kinds of articles about renewable energy these days. In one variety, technological advances are touted (battery storage, new equipment, more sophisticated control networks). In the other, anecdotal stories about this or that company installing and/or sourcing solar or wind power are described. The EPA brings these two strands of reporting together once a year when it announces its Green Power Leadership Awards.
Partnering seems like an obvious way to make more progress faster on the very big problems we’re facing. Combining resources and expertise makes a lot of sense when addressing such large issues as climate change, human rights, and water scarcity. But matching up the practices and strategies of corporate, NGO, and governmental entities is a daunting challenge. Fortunately, there are those taking on this mission, and making progress on making joint efforts.
There’s a headline that catches the eye: $2.3 trillion is a very large number.