Category : Stock Market

(Church Times) C of E Pensions Board joins fight to force VW to open its books on climate lobbying

The Church of England Pensions Board has joined five other pension funds to bring legal action against Volkswagen AG (VW), after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate-lobbying activities.

The funds, four Swedish and one Danish in addition to the C of E board, are all part of the Institutional Investment Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Climate Action’s 100+ initiative. These have asked the company repeatedly to clarify its lobbying position. VW discloses trade association memberships, but does not disclose how the goals of these associations align with its own climate goals.

The boards wanted to table an agenda item at VW’s AGM, seeking publication of a report setting out how the company’s lobbying of policy-makers matched its stated ambition to support the Paris Agreement goals by becoming a net-zero company. VW refused to table the item.

The investors say that they tried over several years to get information before tabling the amendment. The case, supported by the legal charity ClientEarth, will test whether VW has the right to refuse the agenda item.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pensions, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Church of England Pensions Board begins legal proceedings against German car manufacturer VW

The Church of England Pensions Board, together with Swedish public pension funds AP7, AP2, AP3, AP4 and Danish AkademikerPension, has filed a case against Volkswagen AG, after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate lobbying activities.

This is the first time investors have started European litigation on a climate-related matter. The case was filed this week.

The case will test whether VW has the right to refuse to include an item on the company AGM agenda proposed by VW’s shareholders at the 2023 AGM having previously refused investors shareholder resolutions. The group of investors are represented by German law firm Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte LLP and supported by legal charity ClientEarth.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Economist) Financial markets are in trouble. Where will the cracks appear?

It is hard not to feel a sense of foreboding. As the Federal Reserve has tightened policy, asset prices have plunged. Stocks, as measured by the Wilshire 5000 all-cap index, have shed $12trn of market capitalisation since January. Another $7trn has been wiped off bonds, which have lost 14% of their value. Some $2trn of crypto market-cap has vanished over the past year. House prices adjust more slowly, but are falling. Mortgage rates have hit 7%, up from 3% last year. And this is all in America—one of the world’s strongest economies.

Rising rates will slow the American economy and should break the back of inflation. But what else will they break? Since the Federal Reserve raised rates again on September 22nd, global markets have been in turmoil. When the British government announced unfunded tax cuts a day later, fire-sales by pension funds caused the yield on government bonds (or “gilts”) to spiral out of control. Contagion then spread to the American Treasury market, which is as volatile and illiquid as it was at the start of covid-19. The cost to insure against the default of Credit Suisse, a global bank, has risen sharply. These ructions indicate the world is entering a new phase, in which financial markets no longer just reflect the pain of adjusting to the new economic context—pricing in higher rates and lower growth—but now also spread pain of their own.

The most catastrophic pain is felt when financial institutions fail. There are two ways they do so: illiquidity or insolvency. Tighter monetary policy is likely to prompt or reveal both.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Stock Market

(Economist) Markets are reeling from higher rates. The world economy is next

The world’s financial markets are going through their most painful adjustment since the global financial crisis. Adapting to the prospect of higher American interest rates, the ten-year Treasury yield briefly hit 4% this week, its highest level since 2010. Global stock markets have sold off sharply, and bond portfolios have lost an astonishing 21% this year.

The dollar is crushing all comers. The greenback is up by 5.5% since mid-August on a trade-weighted basis, partly because the Fed is raising rates but also because investors are backing away from risk. Across Asia, governments are intervening to resist the depreciation of their currencies. In Europe Britain has poured the fuel of reckless fiscal policy on the fire, causing it to lose the confidence of investors. And as bond yields surge, the euro zone’s indebted economies are looking their most fragile since the sovereign-debt crisis a decade ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Stock Market

Church Commissioners for England invest €30 million in sustainable infrastructure

The Church Commissioners for England have committed €30 million into European sustainable infrastructure with Pioneer Infrastructure Partners SCSp

The investment marks a continuation of the Church Commissioners’ commitment to reaching net zero as a signatory of the UN-convened Asset Owner Alliance

Pioneer Infrastructure Partners SCSp has secured commitments from other large institutional investors, including Texas Municipal Retirement Systems

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(WSJ) Investors Dial Up Pressure Over Companies’ Climate Lobbying

Many companies are still lobbying against the Paris Agreement, according to InfluenceMap, a nonprofit group that pushes for corporate action on climate. It says only 14% of 375 companies it tracks have aligned their detailed climate-policy engagement activities with the Paris Agreement.

“Corporate political engagement continues to represent one of the key barriers to delivering the Paris Agreement’s goals,” said Ed Collins, director of corporate lobbying at InfluenceMap.

Having a shared standard will make it easier for companies to show their public climate promises are serious, said Adam Matthews, chief responsible investment officer at the Church of England Pensions Board.

But companies that don’t sign up may face more shareholder pressure.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(FT) UK stewardship code adds 74 new signatories

In 2020, the FRC substantially reformed the code, which was launched in 2010, to impose stricter reporting requirements on investors that had signed up. Since its launch, it has been replicated in other jurisdictions and broadened to include new asset classes.

Signatories have to report on their stewardship activities and are reviewed annually by the FRC to remain on the list.

“Ultimately, what we want to see are concrete examples of stewardship activities and outcomes. Otherwise, its just a bland policy statement of intentions without application,” said Claudia Chapman at the FRC.

“We’re keen to narrow the gap between what is reported and what is done, and for the most part we are comfortable that those included on the list are doing what they say.”

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(Uxolo) Is faith-based finance making a dent in impact investing?

With a mandate to make a positive change, religious organisations are among the richest asset owners and investors, and are increasingly looking at impact investments to make market returns. Unique to these investments are faith values, which decide the sectors, regions, and projects that receive the funds. In many cases, those values fit comfortably within the SDG puzzle. However, overall, faith-based investors have yet to develop major impact investing portfolios.

While there are no publicly available figures for the value of the assets owned by religious organisations, they are estimated to own over 7% of the Earth’s land surface. The Islamic finance industry was estimated to be worth $2.4 trillion at the end of 2017, according to the 2018 Global Islamic Finance Report, and in 2020 was almost $3 trillion, a figure that is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5% until 2024.

“What we do see is a big trend where faith-based investors have woken up and now understand that a lot of their assets are stuck in very traditional investment vehicles, as they need those revenues and returns from those investments to maintain churches, pay pensions, etc. So it is important for them to make sufficient returns, but they are also realising that in some cases there is a complete misalignment between their values and those funds they have been investing in,” says Maarten Toussaint, COO of FIIND Impact, an investment consultant and advisor, working with faith-based investors.

Even though faith-based investors have noble intentions, their investments are not bereft of returns. “We target market rate with our returns,” says Aaron Pinnock, senior impact investment analyst at the Church Commissioners for England. The portfolio’s target is returns of CPIH +4%. “So, in the last 30 years, our returns have averaged just over 9%, and that’s the kind of target that we are looking for going forward. We are not looking at impact as taking financial returns off the table, but it has to meet the kind of return requirement that will make other investments possible.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

Investors hold mining companies to account following Church of England intervention

A memorial event at which families of those killed in the devastating Brumadinho disaster shared testimonies and prayers, has catalysed investors to take further steps in recognition of the profound risks caused by tailings facilities.

Following the memorial event, Responsible Investor magazine contacted unresponsive companies named, during the event, resulting in further disclosure about tailings from ArcelorMittal. The Church of England Pensions Board has called on the company to publish its support of the global industry standard, and continue to make relevant disclosures for their facilities.

The event marked the third anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster. During the event the Church of England Pensions Board together with the United Nations Environment Programme provided an update on the implementation of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM).

The £3.5/$4.7 billion Church of England Pensions Board, which set up and leads the 100 strong coalition of investors representing USD $20 trillion under management that form the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, also announced that they will vote against the chairs of company boards at companies in which they invest that have not confirmed their intention to implement the Industry Standard.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pensions, Stock Market

(Church Times) Pensions Board puts pressure on mining companies to adopt global safety standards

On the third anniversary of the mining disaster that killed 270 people in Brumadinho, in Brazil, the Church of England Pensions Board has stepped up the pressure on companies to adopt new global safety standards.

The disaster happened when a mine-waste facility, a tailings dam, collapsed. The new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management was developed in response by a coalition of investors led by the Pensions Board and the Council on Ethics of the Swedish AP Funds…. Now, they have published the names of the companies that have committed themselves to the new measures.

Seventy-nine mining companies — one third of those employing tailings dams — have either made a commitment to the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management or are still assessing their compliance. The list includes several of the largest companies, including BHP, Anglo, Glencore, Rio Tinto, and Vale.

The Brumadinho disaster of 2019 is not an isolated incident. Another 12 such collapses have been reported in the past three years. In three instances — two of which took place in Myanmar and one in Peru — workers were killed. The collapses also cause significant environmental damage.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Myanmar/Burma, Pensions, Stock Market

The Church of England restricts investment in climate laggards

The Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) are delivering on their 2018 commitment to General Synod to engage with and disinvest from high carbon emitting companies that are not making progress to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2023.

Twenty companies have made climate-related changes to stay off the Church’s restricted list since 2020.
Following extensive engagement efforts by the NIBs, nine companies made changes to meet the 2021 hurdles. As a result they stayed off the restricted list for a further year, while 28 companies that did not meet the latest climate hurdles were restricted.

These actions are part of the NIBs’ commitment to transitioning their portfolios away from companies that are unwilling to act and align their businesses with the Goals of the Paris Agreement. The climate hurdles were set by the NIBs using Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) data. Additional exacting hurdles will come into force in 2022 and 2023.

The NIBs are founding members of TPI and are investor engagement leads in the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) global engagement initiative. As long-term investors, the NIBs will continue to engage with companies to meet their climate objectives and build alliances with like-minded investors to engage with company boards and executives.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–A benign omicron may be the answer to our economic prayers

Goldman Sachs has gamed four omicron outcomes: “severe downside”, “downside”, “false alarm”, and a surprise “upside”. These scenarios have starkly different implications for asset prices and macroeconomic policy over the next year. Get it wrong at your cost.

You can already see this tension playing out in wild moves on global bourses, or in oil prices, with each snippet of fresh information.

Markets have taken a fresh beating this morning on warnings from Moderna that it is “not going to be good” for the existing vaccines. But if the disease is indeed milder, a slippage in antibody protection levels may not matter, and we still have T-cell memory as the next line of defence.

For the sake of argument – as a Gedankenexperiment – I assume that the benign picture from South Africa holds up over the winter and that we will land at the optimistic end of the Goldman spectrum.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(C of E) Transition Pathway Initiative energy report finds only 1 in 10 companies are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C

The first annual analysis of major energy company transition plans to be released since COP26 has found that only 1 in 10 are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

This energy sector report is the first to feature TPI’s 1.5°C benchmark which assesses corporate targets against the IEA’s pathway to keep to 1.5°C of warming.

TPI assessed 140 of the largest energy companies (76 electric utilities, 58 oil & gas, 6 diversified miners involved in coal mining) on ‘Carbon Performance’ finding that 10% were aligned with a pathway to keeping global warming to 1.5°C, and a further 24% were aligned with a ‘Below 2°C’ pathway.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Economist) Adventure Capitalism

Vladimir Lenin believed that a tiny vanguard could, through force of will, harness historical forces to transform how global capitalism works. He was right. However, the revolutionaries have not been bearded Bolsheviks but a few thousand investors, mostly based in Silicon Valley, running less than 2% of the world’s institutional assets. In the past five decades, the venture-capital (vc) industry has funded enterprising ideas that have gone on to transform global business and the world economy. Seven of the world’s ten largest firms were vc-backed. vc money has financed the companies behind search engines, iPhones, electric cars and mrna vaccines.

Now capitalism’s dream machine is itself being scaled up and transformed, as an unprecedented $450bn of fresh cash floods into the vc scene. This turbocharging of the venture world brings significant risks, from egomaniacal founders torching cash to pension pots being squandered on overvalued startups. But in the long run it also promises to make the industry more global, to funnel risk capital into a wider range of industries, and to make vc more accessible to ordinary investors. A larger pool of capital chasing a bigger universe of ideas will boost competition, and is likely to boost innovation, leading to a more dynamic form of capitalism.

The vc scene has its roots in the 1960s and has been a misfit in the financial world. In contrast to Wall Street’s suits, sophistication and Hamptons mansions, it prefers fleeces, nerdiness and Californian villas. Its distinctiveness is also a matter of intellectual emphasis. As mainstream finance has grown bigger, more quantitative and more preoccupied with slicing and dicing the cashflows of mature firms and assets, vc has remained a cottage industry that cuts against the grain, seeking to find and finance entrepreneurs who are too callow or strange to sit in a room with staid bankers, and ideas that are too novel for mbas to capture in financial models.

The results have been striking. Despite investing relatively modest amounts over the decades, America’s vc funds have seeded firms that are today worth at least $18trn of the total public market.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(FT) Stay or sell? The $110tn investment industry gets tougher on climate

The Church of England too is ditching stocks over climate concerns, even if Joffe says she believes that “having a seat at the table” is generally more effective. Last year, the church’s two investment bodies restricted investments in companies including Berkshire Hathaway and Korea Electric Power Corp over climate change concerns.

Joffe says a tougher approach, involving activism and divestment, “will have to become more mainstream”, especially if asset managers and asset owners are to meet their net zero commitments.

For companies, this means a tougher time from shareholders, says Tom Matthews, a partner who specialises in corporate activism at White and Case. He adds the “narrative around climate change has shifted significantly versus where it was in 2015”, when the Paris agreement was signed. “We’re seeing companies getting targeted because they haven’t woken up quickly enough.”

As for Aviva Investors, Baig says he believes the UK asset manager will end up selling out of at least some of the companies it is targeting because they are not making progress quick enough. “We have to be bold enough to walk way,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Stock Market

(C of E) Church Commissioners among leading financial institutions to commit to actively tackle deforestation

More than 30 leading financial institutions, representing over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, including the Church Commissioners for England, have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Ending deforestation and implementing natural climate solutions could provide a third of the solution to achieving the Paris climate target, help halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and support human rights and food security.

With most deforestation driven by unsustainable production practices for palm oil, soy, cattle products and pulp and paper, resulting in more carbon emissions annually than the EU, action on these commodities is particularly urgent, which is the focus of the commitment made today.

Today’s commitment – to use best efforts to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven tropical deforestation from portfolios by 2025 – is clear evidence of the increasing awareness of the systemic risks and associated actions needed to address deforestation related to production of these commodities and accelerate the transition to sustainable commodity production.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

Church Commissioners for England voice the need for a Just Transition ahead of COP26

Since becoming founding members of the Financing a Just Transition Alliance in 2020, the Church Commissioners for England and Church of England Pensions Board have been active in identifying concrete steps that the financial sector can take to ensure that no-one is left behind as part of the transition to a low carbon economy.

This engagement with high carbon emitting investee companies has focussed on the issue of a Just Transition, ensuring that workers and communities are not left behind and are appropriately supported in the low-carbon transition.

Each company was actively considering how to address and achieve a Just Transition. However, their approaches varied greatly depending on factors such as location, developed versus emerging market, relationship with unions, governance, company size, status as local or international company, and ability to transfer and reskill employees within their own operations. For example, one company that the Commissioners is engaging with is training the operators of coal-fired facilities in a developing country to work in the fishing industry.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(C of E) Alan Smith announced as next First Church Estates Commissioner

Alan Smith, Senior Advisor – ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Risk and Inclusion, and former Global Head of Risk Strategy at HSBC, is to be the next First Church Estates Commissioner, Downing Street announced today. Alan has also been a Church Commissioner since 2018.
The First Church Estates Commissioner chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, a statutory committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2 billion investment portfolio.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Chair of the Commissioners’ Board of Governors, said: “I am delighted that Alan has chosen to use his skills and experience to serve the Church and greatly look forward to working with him. Climate change is the most urgent challenge we face, and Alan’s knowledge of environmental issues and risk management will be critically important for the Commissioners’ work. I’d also like to thank Loretta Minghella for her hard work and leadership during her time at the Church Commissioners.”

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “We are pleased that Alan will succeed Loretta. Alan’s experience as a Commissioner and his role on the Commissioners’ Audit & Risk Committee means he’s extremely well suited for this leadership role.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(C of E) Church Commissioners hold companies to account on environmental and social issues in supply chains

The Church Commissioners has, over the last year, expanded its responsible investment activities from being largely focused on climate change to include engaging with companies in a wide range of sectors across a number of integrated issues include biodiversity, human rights and controversies.

Olga Hancock, Senior Engagement Analyst for the Church Commissioners spoke to Responsible Investor as part of a panel of experts focussing on due diligence and supply chains. In the discussions, Olga spoke on the work of the Investor Policy Dialogue on Deforestation, for which she Co-Chairs the Indonesia workstream, the work of the National Investing Bodies of the Church of England on Extractives, and the work of the CCLA led “ Find It Fix It Prevent It” Modern Slavery Initiative.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

C of E Church Commissioners report strong long-term investment performance

Continued strong long-term investment performance enabled the Church Commissioners to extend financial support to the Church of England during the pandemic

Church Commissioners also give confidence about maintaining distributions through this triennium and the next

Determined action on climate change continues whilst the Church Commissioners deepen its focus as Responsible Investors on twin pillars: Respect for People, Respect for the Planet

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

The Church of England Pensions Board’s response to Shell CEO’s statement

“We continue to engage with Shell on the implications and how accelerating its plans will enable the company to meet the requirements of the CA100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark by 2023. It also underlines the importance that we must all work to decarbonise the real economy to reshape energy demand and ensure all companies – energy companies and all their customers in shipping, aviation, transport, road haulage, power generation and elsewhere are aligning to net zero.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

Church of England Pensions Board commits to the global ‘Net Zero Investment Framework’

21 asset owners, with $1.2 trillion in assets, have used publication of the Framework to commit to achieve net zero alignment by 2050 or sooner. The funds, including the Church of England Pensions Board, are drawing on the Framework to deliver these commitments, alongside a number of asset managers who are already working with clients on net zero alignment.

The Framework enables investors to decarbonise investment portfolios and increase investment in climate solutions, in a way that is consistent with and contributes to a 1.5°C net zero emissions future. Investors do this by developing a ‘net zero investment strategy’ built around five core components of the Framework. These key components are: objectives and targets, strategic asset allocation and asset class alignment, alongside policy advocacy and, investor engagement activity and governance.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(C of E) Global investors engage top mining companies on Indigenous community rights & social licence

Australia, London, – a group of 64 investors and their representatives with USD $10.2 trillion in Assets Under Management have today written to the Boards of mining companies operating in Australia and internationally to seek assurances about how the sector obtains and maintains its social license to operate with First Nations and Indigenous communities.

The investor group of long-term institutional investors is considering the implications of what occurred at the Juukan Gorge on the wider mining sector to support alignment between best-practice and company action.

The investor group is seeking information on the action companies are taking to understand and manage the risks. The group is clear that although the example of the destruction of the Juukan Gorge has arisen in Australia, the principles apply to projects across the world.

The letter from global investors states:

“As responsible investors and their representatives, we are committed to working with the mining sector to support verifiable outcome-oriented processes and standards that ensure that such events are not repeated. To do so, we need to better understand your approach to management of the cultural heritage and First Nations and Indigenous community relations.”

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Bloomberg) Religion Meets Profit Generation in a Slew of New Faith-Based ETFs

As much as Samim Abedi loved his job as part of the team that managed Google’s corporate investment portfolio, he couldn’t always square the work with his Muslim faith. He worried that some of the companies whose securities he traded had ties to alcohol or tobacco or gambling.

So he quit to join Wahed Invest, which in July 2019 launched the first exchange-traded fund in the U.S. that’s compliant with Sharia, Islam’s religious law. It’s one of eight ETFs introduced in the U.S. last year that incorporate faith-based principles, raising the total to 11. More are coming: In June, money manager Global X filed to launch a bond fund aligned to Catholic values. “We’re all trying to solve the same question,” says Abedi, the global head of portfolio management for Wahed. “How do we invest our wealth in ways that align with our ethics?”

Religion-based funds can differ on what they consider ethical. A stock fund that caters to Catholics shuns companies that sell weapons or exploit child labor. Several ETFs for Muslims steer clear of anything related to interest-based finance, which the religion frowns upon. Those funds invest in a Sharia-compliant alternative to bonds called sukuk, which provide regular payments that are considered profit-sharing rather than interest.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Churches, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(FT) Half of UK universities commit to divesting from fossil fuels

Half the UK’s universities have pledged to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies after a years-long campaign involving protests, hunger strikes and petitions by students worried about climate change.

Some 78 of the UK’s 154 public universities have committed to at least partially divest from fossil fuels, including University College London, York, Liverpool and Exeter, which all said they would ditch oil and gas stocks last year.

According to People & Planet, the group that co-ordinated the students, £12.4bn of endowments across the higher education sector have dumped at least some fossil fuel stocks.

The divestment by universities is the latest sign of the growing influence of young climate activists. Last year, youth-led climate strikes took place across the world, inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(FT) Tough new global standards on mining waste storage under consideration

Some of the mining majors have already publicly released their own stringent standards but say implementation and assurance of stakeholders needs improving. There is also a wider challenge of getting smaller miners that do not belong to the ICMM to sign up to the standards.

The disaster in Brazil was the second major accident involving tailings dams within almost four years and has made some investors wary of owning mining shares and raised uncertainty among insurance companies. It is estimated there are about 3,500 active tailings dams globally and a recent review estimated one in ten have stability issues.

The draft noted investors have a role to play in limiting their financial support only to projects that fulfil the standards proposed and insurance companies should insist mining companies minimise the risk from tailings dams.

Adam Matthews from the Church of England Pensions Board representing PRI said “we are mindful that zero harm to people and environment has to be the objective and the standard has an important role to play to achieving a mining sector whose tailings facilities are operating to such a standard.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(BBC) The shareholders fighting to make oil firms greener

They can also convince firms to stop lobbying that is “inconsistent” with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change globally.

One of the most successful activist groups has been Climate Action 100+, a global network of institutional investors that targets the world’s 100 largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.

Its 370 members, which have $35tn (£27tn) of assets under management, include well-known names such as Aberdeen Standard, the Church of England Pensions Board and HSBC Global Asset Management.

In March, the group, working with others, forced the oil giant Shell to make a legally binding commitment to use a broader definition of greenhouse gas emissions in its carbon-reduction targets.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(BBC) Edinburgh hosts world summit on ethical finance

Scotland’s role as a global leader in ethical finance is being highlighted at a world summit in Edinburgh.

Senior representatives from more than 200 companies and organisations are attending Ethical Finance 2019.

Speakers include Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The summit aims to “help define and shape the transition to a sustainable financial system where finance delivers positive change”.

The event is being hosted by the Scotland-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI).

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --Scotland, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Scotland, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector

(Church Times) Good Money Week: Using money for good

“In the present state of mankind,” John Wesley declared in his celebrated 18th-century sermon on the use of money, “it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends.”

Rightly used, he said, money could feed the hungry, provide drink for the thirsty, clothe the naked, and provide shelter for the stranger. “It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!”

He warned against excessive spending, however, and condemned the exploitation of workers. He called on Christians to be generous in their financial giving, and recognised that money could be misused.

The right use of money has been a Christian concern since the early days of the Church, and, between then and now, both the institution and individuals, in their earning, hoarding, or spending of money, have fallen short of the ideals taught. Today, no doubt, Wesley would be a leading campaigner against the consumer society, drawing attention to how irresponsible and excessive consumption has led to environmental degradation.

Churches and faith investors have, for many years, done their best to align their investments with acceptable beliefs and ethics, and, despite good returns promised, have avoided buying shares in, for example, arms companies, and the tobacco and gambling industries. They have monitored businesses in which they invest closely to ensure they are not exploiting the vulnerable or despoiling the planet.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(IPE) Church of England eyes private equity after 2.6% loss in 2018

Poor performance across all markets during 2018, particularly the last quarter, meant the £2.4bn (€2.6bn) Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) slumped to a 2.6% investment loss for the year.

The loss was published in the board’s annual report this morning, and compared with a 9.4% gain in 2017.

CEPB’s public equities allocation lost 6.9%, and the board – which runs assets on behalf of four church pension schemes – cut its exposure to 65% of its £2bn return-seeking portfolio. The long-term target allocation is 35%.

Within its public equity allocation, the CEPB has also continued to reduce its allocation to UK equities, now 6% of the return-seeking pool.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, Stewardship, Stock Market