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%).
From the Editor
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.
Here’s some good news in the energy department: the world’s economies did better at energy efficiency last year, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. Energy intensity—the amount of energy used per unit of GDP—improved by 1.8% in 2015, more than the 1.5% gain in 2014, and triple the average rate seen over the past decade. Global efficiency standards now cover 30% of energy use, up from 11% in 2000.
Every day, I scan the mainstream press for my daily dose of financial and business news that defines the state of the economy. I see a lot of bad news, and some good news. Striking examples of each landed in my inbox today (Thursday, 10/6). The WSJ’s story could not have piled on more doom and gloom: “Worries Deepen that Globalization is Hitting the Skids” (italics mine).The article lays out multiple problems but not one possible solution.
A startup called Grow has been launched to target investments in socially responsible companies. One of a rapidly expanding category of fintech apps called “robo-investors” that make it easier for new investors to build portfolios, Grow points to investments in companies that have sustainable strategies and good governance.
The latest data on spending on CSR by companies in India show a substantial increase, according to the “India CSR Outlook Report.” Figures for 2015-16 total 92 percent of actual CSR spend to the prescribed CSR, compared to 79 percent in 2014-15. The report, an analysis of 250 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, shows that most of the funding was directed to education, health-care, skill development and sanitation.
Palm oil is a very versatile material. In just a few years, it has become a key ingredient in many foods, cosmetics, soaps, and detergents, and is also developing into a stock for biofuel, reports Blue & Green Tomorrow. The stuff is so in demand that its production has, unfortunately, resulted in widespread deforestation and destruction of species habitat, especially in Southeast Asia where many palm plantations are located.
Do the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets seem vital to life in the future? Does the list of ideas and proposed actions also seem overwhelming? The answers are yes and yes. DNV GL, an international certification body and classification society, has assembled a detailed forecast that breaks down the SDG Big Picture into manageable pieces. Its key finding: good progress will be made in some (but not all) world regions, and progress will not be fast enough and will face unacceptable environmental costs.
What’s the deal with the US economy? Factually speaking, slow growth seems to be the new normal.