Our engagements with lawmakers this quarter focused on deforestation, climate change risk, and workers’ rights. We signed a collaborative investor letter facilitated by Domini Investments in support of the Fostering Overseas Rule of Law and Environmentally Sound Trade (FOREST) Act, which prohibits access to U.S. markets for commodities that originate from illegally deforested land. The bill criminalizes illegal deforestation, increases transparency in reporting companies’ international supply chains, and provides a federal government purchasing preference for deforestation-free products.
1. SBA FINALLY MEETS DEI The U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2021 report showed that only 18% of early-stage business loans went to women-owned firms, 8% to Hispanic-owned businesses, and 5% to Black-owned businesses. Pre-pandemic numbers were just as bad. Last month the SBA announced additional enhancements to Section 7(a) funding that should help improve its ability to meet “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) goals.
Main Street Journal
An Interview with
CEO Terri Mickelsen
For those who don’t know Clean Energy Credit Union, can you tell us what kind of loans you make and what makes them unique?
Clean Energy Credit Union is not your traditional credit union in that we are focused solely on providing loans and deposit services that promote clean energy. The loans we offer help people afford clean energy products such as electric vehicles, electric bicycles, solar energy systems, geothermal systems and other green home improvements. Our goal is to make it easier for people to join the clean energy movement, whether it’s getting access to the best possible loan for your clean energy project or hosting your checking and savings account where your deposits will only be used to finance clean energy.
According to Project Drawdown, a nonprofit that researches solutions to climate change, renewable energy ranks as one of the most important solutions in the race to ensure a safe and healthy climate for ourselves and future generations. Solar panels and wind turbines are highly visible and enduring symbols of our potential and progress in the increasingly urgent mission to shift to clean energy. Quite simply, we need to build a lot more of them, and the sooner the better. Fortunately, as investors, we can help make this happen—and earn a fair return in the process.
1: DESPITE SPILLS AND AIR POLLUTION, FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES AWARD CEOS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RECORDS
Executive bonus programs at fossil fuel companies, meant to encourage better environmental practices,
evolved to allow firms to award executives full bonuses even in years with major environmental damage or total emission increases.
2:NAVIGATING THE THICKET OF ESG METRICS
With socially responsible investment becoming mainstream, unpacking how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics are analyzed at different firms becomes an important distinction for investors to understand.
3: COMMUNITY INVESTING: TOOLS FOR THESE TIMES
An important pillar of responsible finance, community investing has evolved over the past several decades. The resurgence of anti-racist discussions in the public narrative has invigorated new efforts to support BIPOC low-income communities.
4: EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP ON THE RISE
Amidst the pandemic and Great Resignation, employee-owned businesses are increasing in the form of cooperatives and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP).
5: MICROSOFT AGREES TO RIGHT TO REPAIR
The movement to reduce electronic waste is picking up steam and corporate giant Microsoft is one of several tech firms bowing to federal pressure, consumer demands, and investor concerns to expand repair options.
As You Sow
The stock market finished mixed for the third quarter with the stocks of large US companies rising 1.2% while smaller US company stocks declined -3.5%. Foreign stocks were also lower by 1.4%, and US bonds were higher by 0.4%. Covid cases linked to the Delta variant increased over the summer, causing more consumers to stay closer to home. With less consumer spending, the pace of economic recovery in the US slowed over the quarter.
Unemployment in the US is still high by historical standards, measuring at 5.9% in June, well above the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%. Economists have noted an anomaly in matching laid-off workers with available job opportunities as the economy continues its uneven reopening process.
by Deborah Nason, CNBC
Another option is YieldCos, according to Michael Kramer, managing partner and director of research with Natural Investments in Kona, Hawaii.
″[These] are essentially renewable energy utilities, often tied to the grid,” Kramer said. “They are lower risk than, say, companies that manufacture equipment.
Americans will soon vote in an election with unprecedented stakes. The outcome of the presidential and Congressional races will determine whether this country continues its rapid descent into xenophobia, isolationism, and climate nihilism—or whether we open a doorway of possibility to a better future.
Natural Investments is involved in a range of efforts with our industry colleagues that facilitate positive economic, social and environmental change, including shareholder engagement with companies and public policy advocacy. Natural Investments regularly engages in corporate and political advocacy to protect ecosystems, defend human rights, and advance racial and economic justice. In 2019, we participated in more than 30 environmental, social, and governance activities on behalf of investors on issues ranging from gun violence and shareholder rights to climate change and reproductive rights.
2019 Social Impact Report
In the last year, the climate crisis seems to have finally gotten its due in mainstream culture. The deniers are still dishing distractions, but the voices for change are now front and center. Perhaps Greta Thunberg’s sailboat journey to the United Nations was the turning point? Was it the asset manager BlackRock finally making a public declaration on the urgency of sustainability? Or maybe Amazon’s Climate Pledge to achieve “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2040? Certainly, the wildfires, floods, and sixty-degree weather in Antarctica make it harder to pretend the climate crisis hasn’t begun. Whatever future historians peg as the tipping point, it’s clear that we must mobilize a massive change in our entire global economy.
Natural Investments continues to purchase offsets for the carbon impact of our business activities. Our primary carbon impact comes from air travel for conferences and meetings.