Posts Tagged ‘divestment’

2019 SRI Impact

Natural Investments enjoyed significant growth since the last report, with sustainable, responsible, impact (SRI) managed assets increasing by 24% to $650M[1]. For the first time, we are using an impact data aggregation firm to delve deeper into our clients’ positive effects on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) areas of the  economy. The additional information allows us to see the bigger picture of our collective efforts, as well as understand trends in areas that are important to our clients. For example, one of the most frequent requests by clients is to avoid direct investments in extractive oil, coal, and natural gas companies, which are driving the climate crisis. In the last year, client demand for our fossil-fuel-free portfolios rose by 127%.

2019 Social Impact Report

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Progress on Private Prison Divestment

The private prison divestment movement has gathered great momentum since our June 2019 webinar, “Private Prison Divestment—Justice for Refugees and Migrants”. During that event, we provided an overview of the movement’s history and an update on current developments, mainly related to the family separation crisis at the US and Mexico border. In June, only two of the six major banks lending to the private prison industry had announced their intent to halt financing, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Over the subsequent six months, US Bank, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third, PNC, and Barclays followed suit. By the end of 2019, the two major private prison companies, CoreCivic and GEO Group, were estimated to face an 87% financing gap as a result of this withdrawal of funds from their primary lenders.

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Divest, Then Reinvest

In January, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2019 was the second hottest year on record, following closely behind 2016. The planet’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015, and nine of the ten warmest years have occurred since 2005.

There is now overwhelming scientific consensus that CO2 emissions from fossil-fuels are a primary cause for our rising average global temperatures. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 15 years.” The obvious remedy? A steep reduction of CO2 emissions.

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2003: How We Can Help Stop the Genocide in Darfur

This article is from our archives as part of the 100th issue special, celebrating twenty-five years of quarterly newsletters. 

Finding this article in our archives, shortly after the attempted coup in Sudan this spring, we are reminded that the human toll in resource-related conflict is real, and economic consequences can extend for decades.

The statistics are mind-boggling: 200,000 dead, 2.5 million refugees and the holocaust in Darfur continues. Investments in oil companies in Sudan are supplying the money that supports this genocide. 70-80% of Sudan’s oil revenue is being funneled into its military. Oil ventures in Sudan are an undeniable enabler of Khartoum’s genocidal policy in Darfur.

There is a growing economic force currently going on to stop the violence. The Sudanese Divestment Task Force (SDTF) instituted a targeted divestment program last year.

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1994: Viva South Africa!

This article is from our archives as a part of our 100th issue special, celebrating twenty-five years of quarterly newsletters. 

References to divestment as an advocacy tool appear throughout this anniversary issue, but the South Africa divestment movement of the 1980s is credited with being the first successful campaign by socially-conscious investors to help catalyze major political change—in this case, the end of apartheid.

For us, the biggest headline of last year was “Apartheid Dies!” The biggest success story for SRI unfolded, as the African National Congress called for lifting sanctions against South Africa. Apartheid is about to be buried, and the people of South Africa are on the difficult road toward democracy.

In 1982, the Calvert Social Investment Fund became the first mutual fund to avoid investing in companies doing  business in South Africa. The movement grew throughout the 1980s and added important financial clout to the struggle to end apartheid. SRI investors can take satisfaction from playing this critical role.

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Divestment as a Moral Imperative

This article is highlighted as part of the 100th issue special, celebrating twenty-five years of quarterly newsletters. 

Just one year after this story was published, the crisis at the Mexico border has intensified. The federal government is detaining thousands of people—including large numbers of unaccompanied children—in migrant detention camps under conditions that visiting doctors have described as torture. Natural Investments advisers continue to educate investors and encourage divestment from private prison corporations contracted by the federal government to detain people.

Few stories dominated headlines this summer like the unfolding of the family separation debacle happening at the U.S.-Mexico border. As civil and political unrest worsened in some Latin American countries, the border saw a dramatic increase of families seeking asylum. Over the spring and early summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) forcibly separated more than 3,000 children from their parents, per the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, and imprisoned them in detention centers across the country; in combination with the surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border, the number of children in U.S. detention centers has now ballooned to more than 13,000.

News reports revealed images of solitary children, huddled under thin aluminum blankets and wailing in the cages of detention centers run by two private companies: GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (referred to as “CoreCivic”); both manage private prisons as well as ICE detention centers. Immigrant children held in facilities run by these two companies have complained about

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Investing in Carbon Drawdown

A little over one year ago, President Trump reaffirmed his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. As if on cue, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica, where temperatures have risen nearly five degrees on average over the past few decades. And Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Florence wrought unprecedented destruction in rapid succession upon Texas, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina, respectively.

Scientists and researchers are still working to measure the astounding human and environmental toll from the hurricanes, which are considered to be climate disasters due to their intensity. Hurricane Maria resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths and left Puerto Rico without electricity, telecommunications, or water services for months. Hurricane Harvey caused at least 100 recorded releases of toxic chemicals in a region with 500 chemical plants and 10 oil refineries. NASA’s satellite images of North Carolina after Hurricane Florence show inky black currents of organic matter—mostly sewage from massive chicken and hog farms in the area—seeping into the blue waters of North Carolina’s coastline.

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Hey, get that oily mess out of my money!

This article is highlighted as part of the 100th issue special, celebrating twenty-five years of quarterly newsletters.

Natural Investments has offered fossil-fuel-free portfolios for over a decade. With renewable energy hitting a tipping point and climate change concerns gripping the world, we are proud to have been one of the earliest voices advocating for fossil-fuel divestment.

A rapidly increasing segment of the investment world is coming to the realization that not only is carbon pollution putting our planet’s future at risk, but that the big energy extraction companies are dragging down the returns in their portfolios. Oil is not well on the energy investing front!

The fossil fuel divestment movement is coordinated by Bill McKibben’s 350.org and members of US SIF (The Forum for Sustainable Responsible Investment) to encourage universities, endowments, and family of ces to implement divestment strategies. Divestment is often implemented by selling off (or just not buying) stock in the Carbon Underground 200. CU200 consists of the companies that own the largest untapped reserves of fossil fuels. The idea is that this coal, oil, and gas needs to stay where it is to avert climate catastrophe.

Divestment historically faced fairly stiff headwinds from money managers and trustees. They claimed that univer- sities, foundations, and individual investors would suffer if they forgo investment in coal and oil companies that were once solidly performing stocks. Recent analyses cause us to question those claims. In fact, the new information is being taken to heart by investors. According to GoFossilFree.org, 629 institutions with a total of $3.4 trillion have committed to full or partial divestment, including seventy colleges and universities, 128 foundations, and 111 cities and towns, and they’ve been joined by over 50,000 individual investors.

Divestment probably doesn’t make much of a dent in the wallets of fossil fuel companies, some have asked, so why bother? Yes, but the movement is not naïve to the deep pockets of these companies.

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The beginning of the end for fossil fuels?

Climate change hysteria.  Tar sands and fracking.  Prices for oil and gasoline on a roller coaster.  What in the world is going on with fossil fuels?

I’m no expert on energy, but as a fascinated observer, it’s been increasingly dawning on me that perhaps we are seeing the beginning of the end of an era.  Of course, the end of fossil fuels will probably take decades to unfold—though change can also happen with surprising speed. (Think: the ubiquitous smartphone is not even ten years old yet!)

A permanent shift towards a low-carbon economy certainly appears to be underway.  A number of key forces are working in concert to fundamentally change how energy is produced and consumed in our modern economies.  These include new production technologies, evolving political realities around climate change, increasing energy efficiency, and the rise of renewable energy and electric vehicles.  All of these are trends that look to be with us for a long time, inexorably pushing us towards a green energy future and away from polluting fossil fuels.

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Why 350.org’s divestment campaign is on the money

This month’s GreenBiz.com column by NI partner Michael Kramer backs Bill McKibben’s campaign urging institutional divestment from companies whose primary businesses profit from the continuing reckless exploration, extraction, and burning of fossil fuels.  Just after publication, it’s the lead story on the GreenBiz home page.

Read the whole piece here.  A teaser:

Yes, one can profit in the short term off these industries, or get in on the latest environmental insanity caused by hydraulic fracturing, but this process of extracting financial gain from environmentally stupid business practices must end, especially if one claims to invest in a sustainable or responsible manner. To invest in fossil fuels as if there were no real consequences ignores their direct contribution to ecosystem collapse. Do we truly want to wait until the effects of climate change are irreversible and life threatening before we realize we should change our behavior? The warning signs are already upon us.

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