News from the ESG, CSR & SRI World

New EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive - CSRD (January 2023)

The new EU CSRD (valid since January 5th, 2023) massively expands the obligation for companies to prepare sustainability reports. From 2026 (reporting period 2025), all large EU corporations (more than 250 employees and more than EUR 20 million in total assets or EUR 40 million in sales) will have to publish sustainability reports. In the EU, around 50,000 companies will be affected by the new CSRD.

The CSRD sustainability reports must meet the requirements of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and will have to be verified by external auditors. Read More

Bloomberg on Greenwashing (Jan 2023)

In a recent newsletter to ESG experts the news agency Bloomberg stated that 'Greenwashing may be the biggest risk to the future of ESG investing'. According to Bloomberg, recent regulatory action by the EU triggered a dramatic downgrading of ESG assets by international fund managers (Amundi US$ 46bn, Black Rock US$ 26bn, AXA US$ 21 bn). In July 2022 The Economist had issued a special report titled ESG Investing: A broken idea' that also critized wide spread greenwashing as a fundamental problem of ESG Investing.

Read more (Bloomberg subscription required)

New SEC Climate Disclosure Rule Postponed (Oct 2022)

The SEC has postponed the final new regulation on 'Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures'. Following a US Supreme Court ruling in July, the SEC continues to review public comments and has not set a new deadline. Read more

SEC Proposes New Climate Disclosure Rule (March 2022)

The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing a new regulation ('Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures') that would oblige listed companies in the US to disclose their CO2 emissions, risks of climate change for their business model, and risk management measures. The final regulation is expected to be presented by October 2022. Read more

German Sustainable Finance Committee: 'Shifting the Trillions' (February 2021)

The German 'Sustainable Finance Committee' advises the German government on the development and implementation of its Sustainable Finance Strategy. In February the Committee published its final report to the German government under the title 'Shifting the Trillions'. Read more

ECB: Final Guide on Climate & Environmental Risks for Banks (November 2020)

The European Central Bank (ECB) today published its final and amended guide on climate-related and environmental risks following a public consultation. The guide explains how the ECB expects banks to prudently manage and transparently disclose such risks under current prudential rules. Read more

MSCI ESG Indices Outperform ACWI During Corona Crisis (May 2020)

MSCI, one of the leading stock index providers, has analyzed the performance of its ESG indices against its primary global index, the ACWI (All Countries World Index) with over 2,500 leading global shares, during the Corona virus crisis.

In a recent blog-post, MSCI disclosed that its ESG indices had outperformed the ACWI by several percentage points in Q1 of 2020. While a causality is hard to prove against a mere correlation, the outperformance of the ESG indices against the traditional index is an interesting data point by itself. Read more

Fidelity Finds Outperformance of ESG Equity & Fixed Income During Corona Crisis (April 2020)

Fidelity International, one of the leading asset management firms, studied the performance of over 2,600 stocks during the Corona crisis. Using its proprietaty ESG rating tools, Fidelity compared the performance of ESG leaders (A & B ESG ratings) and laggers (D & E ESG ratings) against the broad S&P 500 Index. In their findings Fidelity reports an outperformance of 3.8 & 1.2 percentage points for companies with A ratings & B ratings between Feb 19th & Mar 26th. In the same period of barely 5 weeks, companies with poor ESG ratings of D & E underperformed by 3.8 & a whopping 7.4 percentage points (!) against the S&P 500.

Results for the period from the start of the year to March 26th showed similar effects for the fixed income market (bonds). Read more

EU selects BlackRock as ESG Advisor on Banking (April 2020)

The European Commission (EC) has selected BlackRock (BR), the leading asset management company by AUM, to advise the EC on ESG and banking. Beating 8 competitors, BR was selected to study how the EU could best integrate ESG factors into its banking supervision.

Critics of the decision point out that BR is one the world's largest investors in fossil fuel companies and banks, creating a clear conflict of interest. Read more

Trucost Launches New Climate Change Risk Analytics Tool (December 2019)

Trucost, part of credit ratings giant S&P Global, has launched an analytical tool to help companies assess their exposure to physical climate risks and comply with increasing pressure to report their exposure to climate change risks & natural catastrophes. To build the tool, Trucost evaluated 15,000 companies (representing 99% of global stock markets) and evaluted 7 climate change hazards on over 500,000 physical assets.

Trucost calculates that 59% of constituents in the S&P 500 index (combined market cap of USD 18.0 tn) and over 43% of the S&P Global 1200 index (USD 27.3 tn) are exposed to "high-risk climate change impacts". The greatest physical risks are wildfires, heatwaves & hurricanes. Read more

ISO Publishes New ISO 14007 'Determining Environmental Costs & Benefits' (November 2019)

After three years of intense work the International Standards Organization published the new ISO 14007 titled 'Environmental Management - Determining Environmental Costs & Benefits' on November 14th, 2019. The new standard gives organizations clear & concise guidelines to carry out cost-benefit analyses for different environmental options. It thereby enables organizations to determine & communicate the costs & benefits associated with their environmental aspects, impacts & dependencies on natural resources. Read more

Franz Knecht, founder & managing partner of CONNEXIS, played a key role in the successful development of ISO 14007, as official Convenor of Working Group 8.

Global Foreign Direct Investment Increased by 24% in H1 2019 (October 2019)

The UN Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) recently published its latest Global Investment Trend Monitor (No. 32). The report finds that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increased by 24% to USD 640bn in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018 (USD 517bn).

However, after correction for one-off transactions and inter-company flows the increase in FDI was only 4%. Prospects for the full year remain in line with earlier projections of a 5-10% increase. Read more

UNEP FI Member Banks officially launch Principles for Responsible Banking (September 2019)

At the UN General Assembly in New York City 130 banks from 49 countries officially launched the "Principles for Responsible Banking" (PRBs). The participating banks represent assets of USD 47trillion, equaling one third of the global banking sector. The Principles were developed under the umbrella of UNEP FI and are designed to provide the first-ever global framework for banks to align their core business strategy with the UN's SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

CONNEXIS has been applying the concept of alligning a bank's core strategy with society's goals, setting specific measurable targets and involving the relevant stakeholders in order to transform banks' governance cultures since its foundation in the 1990s. As a consequence, CONNEXIS actively supports the PRBs and welcomes the commitment of the subscribing banks. Read more

Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund Allowed to Reduce Exposure to Fossil Fuels (June 2019)

The Norwegian parliament has authorized the country’s USD 1trn sovereign wealth fund to reduce its investment in fossil fuel companies. The recent decision will affect mainly oil, gas and coal companies, with an estimated divestment of around USD 7.5bn from oil and gas stocks and an additional USD 5.8bn divestment from coal stocks. At the same time the fund was authorized to double its investment (now USD 14bn) in renewable infrastructure projects. Although the divestment specifically excludes oil giants such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil corp. it is seen as the beginning of a strategic shift at one of the largest investors worldwide. Read more

Transparency International publishes Corruption Perception Index 2018 (February 2019)

Transparency International, the global watchdog on corruption, released the latest version of their report on global corruption. The index ranks 180 countries & territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts & businesspeople, using a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt & 100 is very clean. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43. While Denmark (88) and New Zealand (87) top the list in 2018, Syria (13), South Sudan (13) and Somalia (10) find themselves at the bottom of the list. Read more

WWF analyzes environmental performance of Swiss watch industry (January 2019)

In a recent study the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) analyzed the environmental performance of the 15 largest Swiss watch brands.

Out of the nine actively participating companies only IWC received a qualification as 'ambitious', with the other 6 companies qualified as 'upper mid field'. The full report can be downloaded in English as a PDF document here.

EU TEG publishes draft climate mitigation taxonomy & calls for feedback (December 2018)

In order to inform about its work on the action plan on financing sustainable growth published in March 2018, the EU Commission established a technical expert group on sustainable finance (TEG) in July 2018.

The group is now inviting feedback on the first proposed activities that contribute substantially to climate change mitigation and on the usability of this first list of activities. Read more

EUROSIF: 8th Edition of SRI Market Study published (November 2018)

The 8th edition of Eurosif's biennial Market Study reports sustained growth for most sustainable & responsible investment (SRI) strategies. The past two years show clear signs of SRI becoming integral to European fund management with managers better articulating their investment strategies.

ESG integration remains by far the preferred strategy, growing by 60%. Impact Investing continues to grow registering a 6-year CAGR of 52% and reaching €108 billion in assets, from only €20 billion in 2013. Exclusions remains a dominant strategy in terms of assets with €9.4 trillion, registering a slight decrease of 7%. Read more

MOODY's Global Heat Map: 11 sectors face high environmental credit risk (November 2018)

In the latest edition of its 'Global Heat Map' report the rating agency MOODY'S INVESTOR SERVICE finds that Eleven sectors with $2.2 trillion in rated debt have elevated credit exposure to environmental risks.

In particular, carbon transition risk is seen as a significant credit risk for 10 of these sectors, due to their - in some cases possibly disruptive - exposure to carbon regulation.

The two sectors facing the most immediate risk are unregulated utilities and power companies, and coal mining and coal terminals, accounting for a collective $517 billion of rated debt. Read more

UNEP publishes new Emissions Gap Report (November 2018)

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) issued its latest Emssions Gap Report. In the report UNEP calculates the gap between current efforts to reduce GHG emissions and the 2°C target from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

According to UNEP's calculations nations must triple their efforts in order to achieve the 2°C climate target. The researchers conclude that while it is still possible to keep global warming to below 2°C the technical feasibility of bridging the 1.5°C gap is dwindling. Read more

PIMCO launches ESG version of $18bn IG credit fund (October 2018)

Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) - a leading US investment management firm, focusing on fixed income with US$1.77 trillion in assets under management – announced the launch of its ‘Global Investment Grade Credit ESG Fund’, the latest strategy available on PIMCO’s ESG platform. The new fund, capitalized at US$ 18bn, will invest in the corporate bonds of major issuers applying a three-layer ESG approach. Read more

Pension fund CEO: Strong movement towards green financing (October 2018)

In a recent interview with EURACTIV, France Phillippe Desfossé – CEO of pension fund ERAFP that manages the French public service additional pension scheme – stated that he sees a strong movement towards green financing. He also mentioned that for his organization the pursuit of maximizing short term profits is contrary to the contributors’ long term interests. Read more

China's Green Credit Policy has reduced credit risk (September 2018)

In a recent study researchers Yujun Chui, Sean Geobey and others from the University of Waterloo (CAN) and Northern Illinois University (USA) have found that China’s Green Credit Policy has lowered the credit risk in Chinese banks. The Green Credit Policy in China was introduced in 2007 and obliges banks to favor environmentally friendly loans over loans that lead to heavy pollution. Analyzing data from 2009 to 2014, the researchers found that in major banks the NPL ratio (non-performing loan) has decreased significantly in the country’s largest banks. The NPL ratio puts loans that have not been paid for more than 90 days in relation to the entire loan portfolio of the bank. Read more

UK pension trustees must reveal ESG policy under new rules (September 2018)

The UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that it will update regulation around fiduciary duty to clarify that trustees must consider financially material ESG risks and opportunities, especially climate change. The new regulation will apply to trust-based pension funds, currently the majority of schemes in the UK. The trustees will have until October 2019 to update their Statements of Investment Principles (SIP). Pension funds will have another year (until October 2020) before they have to explain how they implemented what they state in their SIPs. Read more

EU appoints members of new Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (June 2018)

Following the dissolution of the EU’s HLEG (High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance) at the beginning of 2018, the EU Commission has chosen the 35 members for the new Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (TEG). The TEG is supposed to build on the work of the HLEG and develop new EU standards on sustainable finance, green bonds, low-carbon benchmarks and climate disclosure metrics. The TEG commences its work in July 2018 and will operate for one year, until June 2019. Read more

EU Council adopts stricter recycling rules (May 2018)

On May 22nd the EU Council adopted a new rule that obliges member countries to recycle 55% of their municipal solid waste (MSW) by 2025. The obligation to recycle will increase to 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035. In addition, member countries will have to set up separate collection systems for bio-waste, textiles and hazardous waste. Read more

Toronto to follow Ottawa with first Green Bond issuance (April 2018)

The city of Ottawa led the way last November with a breakthrough $102 million issue of 30-year green bonds, the proceeds of which were used to finance light rail transit in the nation’s capital. Now comes word that the City of Toronto plans to follow suit with an issue of green bonds slated for later this year. In a posting on its website, the city said that its green debenture program “will leverage on the city’s low borrowing interest rates to help finance the city’s transit and other capital projects that contribute to environmental sustainability.”. Read more

Morgan Stanley Raises US$ 125MM for 1st Global Impact Fund (Feb 2018)

Morgan Stanley Investment Management has raised more than $125 million in final commitments for its first global impact fund, PMF Integro. Launched in partnership with the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, Integro invests in private equity funds that offer a combination of attractive financial returns with positive environmental impact, social impact or both. The fund is managed by AIP Private Markets, the private markets solutions team within Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Read more

CONNEXIS is actively involved in the development of the new ISO ESG standards, especially ISO 14030 & ISO 14097 around climate finance and ISO 14008 & 14007 around environmental impact assessment. Read more

OECD: Guidelines for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector (Dec 17)

Companies can contribute to positive social and economic development when they involve stakeholders, such as local communities, in their planning and decision making. This is particularly true in the extractive sector, which is associated with extensive social, economic and environmental impacts. The OECD has therefore prepared new due diligence guidelines for meaningful stakeholder engagement in the extractive sector intended to provide practical guidance to mining, oil and gas enterprises in addressing the challenges related to stakeholder engagement. Read more

72% of Companies do not Account for Financial Risks of Climate Change (Oct 2017)

In its 25th issue KPMG's Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting reveals that 72% of large and mid-cap companies worldwide don’t acknowledge the financial risks of climate change in their annual financial reports. The study is based on 4,900 companies worldwide, comprising the top 100 companies by revenue in each of the 49 countries researched in this study. Read more

New Study on Europe's Global Environmental & Social Impacts (Sep 2017)

In a new 5-year study (ERC FINEPRINT), the Sustainable Resource Use team at the University of Economics in Vienna (Austria) analyzes the environmental and social footprint of Europe’s resource consumption. While the consumption of raw materials within Europe has decreased over recent years, the import of raw materials and raw-material intense products into Europe continues to increase. FINEPRINT will develop a spatially explicit foot­print model, which will allow tracing products consumed in European countries back to the precise geographical location where specific environmental and social impacts related to raw material extraction take place. The assessment will be carried out for at least 60 raw materials on a global scale, covering biomass from agriculture, fossil fuels, metal ores and industrial minerals. From October 2017, more information will be available at the project website.

Swiss Chocolate Industry Launches Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (June 2017)

The Swiss chocolate industry, in particular represented by the industry association Chocosuisse and the Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), have set up a platform with NGOs Swisscontact and Helvetas to promote sustainability in the cocoa sector. Together with several Swiss companies and research institutes, they signed a declaration of intent and formulated ten strategic goals. The core element of the platform is the target to procure 80% of the imported cocoa-based products from sustainable production sources by 2025. Read more (German source)

Shareholders Override Board at Occidental Petroleum on Climate Proposal (May 2017)

On May 12th Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s shareholders approved a proposal to require the oil and gas exploration company to report on the business impacts of climate change, marking the first time such a proposal has passed over the board’s objections.

The resolution, initiated by a group of investors including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), received more than 50 % of the votes at Occidental’s shareholder meeting in Houston, according to spokesmen for the company and Calpers.

The proposal received the backing of Occidental’s largest shareholder, $5.4 trillion asset manager BlackRock Inc. BlackRock, which owns a 7.8 percent stake in the oil explorer, said it took action due to the "lack of response" on the issue by the company and a lack of improvement in its climate-change related reporting following a similar proposal last year which received more than 40 percent support. Read more

Gobal Sustainable Investment Grows 25% - Europe Continues to Lead (Mar 2017)

In its most recent report the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) reports that global sustainable investment assets reached US$ 22.89 trillion in 2016, a 25% increase over 2014.

Europe continues to be the dominant market for sustainable investment, with a share of 53%, followed by the US with 38%. The fastest growing countries are Japan and Australia/New Zealand.

Negative/exclusionary screening remains the largest sustainable investment strategy, affecting $15.02 trillion in assets, followed by the integration of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG ) issues, applied to $10.37 trillion in assets and corporate engagement/shareholder action ($8.37 trillion) Read more

Member States must implement new EU Guideline by December 6th, 2016 (November 2016)

The new EU Directive on non-financial reporting (NFRD) has to be implemented by all EU Member States by December 6th, 2016. As a consequence all Public Interest Entities (PIEs) with more than 500 employees will have to report certain environmental and social data in their annual statements beginning with the reporting year 2017. For more details on the new directive and our services to comply with the new regulation please see here.

Germany implements new EU Guideline on sustainability reporting (September 2016)

The German government has adopted new regulation that obliges so called Public Interest Entities (PIEs) to report on their Corporate Social Responsibility. PIEs include all stock exchange listed companies as well as banks and insurance companies with more than 500 employees. These PIEs will have to report on their material risks concerning employees, social and environmental issues, as well as human rights and corruption. The new regulation will be applied starting with the reporting year 2017. By implementing this new regulation Germany follows a new EU Guideline that is expected to affect 1000s of companies throughout the EU. Read more

US Coal Industry Under Pressure, Risk of Bankruptcies Increases (March 2016)

Banks' withdrawal from coal is having an immediate impact. After sector pressures forced Alpha Natural Resources into bankruptcy in August 2015, the lack of financing from banks to let the company exit Chapter 11 led the company to sell more assets as it continues its restructuring. On March 16th, coal producer Peabody Energy skipped an interest payment due March 15, warning investors it faces potential bankruptcy. "We also believe that in current markets the likelihood of a major asset sale at a multiple sufficient to allow deleveraging also looks more and more remote," analysts wrote in their report. Read more

Wall Street Exits US Coal Financing (February 2016)

Under pressure from US government officials and environmental advocacy groups, a growing number of top financial services firms are scaling back their financing of coal mining operations. Banks such as Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America announced commitments to back away from financing the coal industry. The White House this year issued a moratorium of new leases for coal mined on federal lands. California pensions, under Gov. Jerry Brown's 2015 law, will divest from investments in coal companies by mid-2017.

OECD New Sector Understanding (December 2015)

In line with commitments by members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to drive down their own domestic emissions of greenhouse gases, OECD participants in the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits agreed a new sector understanding on 17 November 2015 to limit their financial support for the development of coal-fired electricity generation projects abroad (the New Sector Understanding). As export credit agencies from OECD countries provided nearly half of the financing for coal projects between 2007 and 2014, the New Sector Understanding represents a significant diplomatic feat achieved ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris in December 2015.

France bans planned obsolescence (October 2015)

On October 14th 2104 the French parliament passed a law that will make planned obsolescence a crime in France, threatening up two years in prison and up to EUR 300,000 in fines. Under the new law, which will come into effect in 2016, companies and their employees can be held accountable for the planned failure of consumer products, if a deliberate limitation of the lifetime of the product can be proven. The law is part of France's new policy to reduce its energy consumption by 50% until 2050. A study from 2013 estimates the annual damages resulting from planned obsolescence in Germany alone at EUR 100bn. Read more

BoE Governor Carney says firms must be more open about carbon footprint (October 2015)

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Tuesday that companies must be more open about their "climate change footprint" to avoid abrupt changes in asset prices that could destabilise markets. The speed at which assets such as coal, oil and gas reserves are re-priced to reflect the impact of climate change is vital to reduce potentially "huge" financial risks to British insurers and other investors, he said. "Risks to financial stability will be minimised if the transition begins early and follows a predictable path" Carney told a Lloyd's of London insurance market event.

The goal of limiting global temperature rises to two degrees above pre-industrial levels would render the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves "stranded" or unburnable without expensive carbon capture technology, he said. Carney, who made no comment on UK monetary policy, also heads the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which coordinates financial regulation for the Group of 20 economies (G20).

At a meeting in London last week, the FSB agreed to consider recommending to G20 leaders in November that more should be done to develop consistent, comparable, reliable and clear disclosures by companies on the "carbon intensity" of their assets, he said.

Such disclosures would show investors how companies will manage risks from climate change.

New 'Cooperative Bank for the Common Good' founded in Austria (September 2015)

At the end of 2014 a new cooperative bank was founded in Austria. The bank aims to follow the initial ideas of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen who formulated his motivation to establish a new bank cooperative in 1872: "A cooperative should serve the needs of its members as much as the needs of society."

As a consequence the new bank wants to primarily promote and support socially responsible projects and has no plans to pay dividends to its members and owner, says Robert Moser, founder and President of the new bank.

So far the cooperative has raised EUR 1.5MM of the necessary EUR 6MM equity it needs to apply for a banking license in Austria. Mr. Moser is confident that the cooperative will be able to apply for its banking license in early 2016. Read more

SEC Adopts CEO Pay Ratio Rule, Five Years After It Became Law (August 2015)

A new federal rule will require public companies to list their chief executives' total annual compensation as a ratio to their workers' median pay, after the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the rule in early August. The new vote comes five years after Congress approved the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which included the pay ratio rule. The new rule will come into effect in 2017 and is widely expected to increase transparency around workers' and CEO compensation.

Small Breakthrough on the Road to Paris (July 2015)

In a recent interview the Chief Negotiator of France – Laurence Tubiana – summarized the latest preparatory meeting for the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris (November 2015) as a significant breakthrough. According to Ms. Tubiana the negotiations had taken a major turn for the better. The 46 participating countries agreed that the new climate accord needs to provide a permanent solution for carbon emissions and a mechanism to continuously increase future reduction targets. In combination with a principal agreement between the world’s leading emitters USA and China from late 2014 to commit to binding reduction targets, this latest accord increases the hopes for the Paris conference in November.

OECD Issues New PFI (June 2015)

In June the 34 OECD members agreed on a new Policy Framework for Investment (PFI) with an increased focus on SMEs as well as global supply chains. The new PFI also addresses gender equality issues as well as political measures to direct investment towards environmental growth. The OECD offers the PFI as a global reference for investment policy and development co-operation, supplementing its existing Guidelines for Multinationals as well as the G20/OECD Principles for Long Term Finance by institutional investors.

Private Equity Concerns: Bribery, Transparency & Working Conditions (May 2015)

For their latest publication (Reputational Risk in Private Equity Index, RRIPE, May 2015) UK Private Equity (PE) consulting firm Pivot Partners asked over 100 Limited Partners (LPs) about their primary reputational risk and ESG concerns in their investment decisions.Out of 24 ESG issues the LPs ranked bribery as their primary concern, “concealing bad news from investors” as the second most important issue and “Providing unsafe work conditions” as third most important risk. By contrast deforestation, fracking and “Polluting the Environment” are the highest ranked environmental risks at position 11, 12 and 16. Portfolio performance leads the additional factors that influence investment decisions, followed by labor standards and integrity. The authors also note that family offices seem to be less concerned about the tested risks: 10 of the 24 risks scored lowest among family offices.

SRI Volume Jumps 47% in German Speaking Countries

According to the Forum on Sustainable Investment (FNG) the volume of sustainable investment in Germany, Austria and Switzerland grew by 47% to EUR 197.5bn in 2014.“Exclusion criteria, the best-in-class approach and the integration of sustainability criteria into traditional financial analysis remain the most important approaches” says Claudia Tober, FNG’s Executive Director. “While impact investment ranked lowest in terms of volume, it has made particularly strong gains, achieving growth of 74%.” FNG has been recording this particular strategy since 2011.In 2005 FNG had issued its first market report on sustainable investment and the latest report (2015) now marks a full decade of reporting on sustainable investment in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Over this period the market has grown 15-fold.

Norway Decides to Divest from Coal Industry - Follows Axxa Insurance Group (May 2015)

All parties in Norway’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs agreed on May 28th that Norway's sovereign investment fund - the world's largest - will divest from companies that draw more 30% of their income from the coal industry. The new agreement is expected to become law on June 5, 2015 and lead to a divestment of US$ 4.5bn.

This decision follows a similar decision in the week preceding the Norwegian decision, where French insurance group Axxa also decided to divest from coal. Other large banks, such as Credit Agricole of France and Bank of America, will reduce their loans to the coal industry. More and more investors begin to realize that coal is not only an environmentally damaging investment, but also a more and more risky one.

Barclays Bank Exits Mountain-Top-Removal (March 2015)

Barclays Bank has been one of the largest financiers of the coal mining industry and especially of the practice of Mountain Top Removal (MTR). The practice of MTR - where entire mountain tops are removed by explosives to access coal inside the mountain - is under heavy criticism for its environmental impact, primarily deforestation and the pollution of watercourses.

In April 2014 protestors organized by the World Development Movement (WDM) – an independent association of campaign groups across the UK – targeted the annual general meeting of Barclay’s Bank in London, especially challenging the bank’s involvement in MTR.

In a stunning reversal, Barclays issued a quiet policy paper in March 2015, announcing the Bank’s exit from financing MTR.

Starbucks To Spend US$250 Million On Free College For Every Employee

Starbucks Coffee just announced a commitment of up to $250 million to ensure that each of its U.S. employees – whether full or part-time – can go to four years of college and graduate without any tuition debt. Read more

UPDATE: According to Forbes Magazine Starbuck's recent commitment of up to $250 million to ensure that its U.S. employees can graduate without any tuition debt has turned into a very successful recruiting and retention tool. Read more