When Will Sustainable Investing Be Considered to be in the Mainstream?

When Will Sustainable Investing Be Considered to be in the Mainstream?

“Movements” – what comes to mind when we describe the characteristics of this term are 20th Century examples. The late-20th Century “environmental movement” was a segue from the older 19th and early 20th Century “conservation movement” that was jump started by President Theodore Roosevelt (#26), who in his 8 years in the Oval Office preserved some 100,000 acres of American land every work day (this before the creation of the National Parks System a decade later).

The catalysts for the comparatively rapid uptake of the environmental movement?  American rivers literally burned in the 1960’s and 1970’s (look it up – Cuyahoga River in Ohio was one), and that was one reason the alarm bells were going off.  New York’s Hudson River was becoming an open, moving sewer, with its once-abundant fish dying and with junk moving toward the Atlantic Ocean.  Many East Coast beaches were fouled swamp lands.

One clarion call – loud & clear -- for change came from the pen.  The inspired naturalist / author Rachel Carson wielded her mighty pen in writing the best-seller “Silent Spring”.  That book helped to catalyze the concerns of American citizens.  She quickly attracted great industry criticism for sounding the alarm…but her words mobilized thousands of early activists. And they turned into the millions of the new movement.

She explained the title:  There was a strange stillness.  Where had the little birds gone? The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly.”  (Hint:  the book had the poisonous aspects of the DDT pesticide at its center as the major villain.)

Americans in the 1960s were becoming more and more alarmed not only of dumping of chemical wastes into rivers and streams and drifting off to the distant oceans; but also of tall factory smokestacks belching forth black clouds and coal soot particles; of large cities frequently buried beneath great clouds of yellow smog a mile high on what were cone clear days; of dangerous substances making their way into foods from the yields of land and sea; of yes, birds dropping out of the sky, poisoned; of tops of evergreen and other trees on hilltops and mountains in the Northeast burned clean off by acid rain wafting in from tall utility smokestacks hundreds of miles away in the Midwest…and more.  Scary days. For public health professionals, dangerous days.

We will soon again be celebrating Earth Day; give thanks, we are long way from that first celebration back in spring 1970. (Thank you, US Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin for creating that first Earth Day!)

Most of our days now are (as the pilots cheer) CAVU – clear and visibility unlimited.  We can breathe deep and as we exhale thank many activists for persevering and driving dramatic change and creating the modern environmental movement... and on to the sustainability movement.  And now – is it time (or, isn’t time!) for another movement along these lines…the sustainable investing movement going mainstream?  Experts pose the question and provide some perspectives in this week’s Top Story.

In Forbes magazine, they ask:  “Why Hasn’t Sustainable Investing Gone Viral Yet?” Decio Fascimento, a member of Forbes Council (and chief investment officer of the Richmond Global Compass Fund) and the Forbes Finance Council address the question in their essay.

In reading this, we’re reminded that such mainstream powerhouse asset managers as BlackRock, State Street/SSgA, Vanguard Funds, TIAA-CREF, and asset owners New York State Common Fund, New York City pension funds (NYCPERS), CalPERS, CalSTRS and other capital market players have embraced sustainable investing approaches. 

But – as the authors ask:  what will it take for many more capital market players to join the movement?  There’s interesting reading for you in the Top Story – if you have thoughts on this, send them along to share with other readers in the G&A Institute universe.

This Week's Top Stories

Why Hasn't Sustainable Investing Gone Viral Yet?
(Wednesday - April 10, 2019) Source: Forbes - Let’s first look at what sustainability looks like in financial terms. In sustainable investing, the ideal scenario is when you find opportunities that produce the highest returns and have the highest positive impact. 

And of further reading for those interested:


Sustainability: Continuing Forward Momentum!

Balancing Durability & Recyclability to Create More Sustainable Electronics
(Monday - April 08, 2019) Source: Interesting Engineering - When designing and engineering sustainable technology, which is better: creating technology that is extremely durable or creating something that is potentially recyclable at the end of the product's life cycle? 

Durability vs. Recyclability: Dueling goals in making electronics more sustainable
(Monday - April 08, 2019) Source: Science Daily - The falling cost of solar power has led to a boom in recent years, with more and more photovoltaic panels popping up on rooftops and backyard solar farms around the world. 

How Sustainable Is Consigning Clothing? TheRealReal Is Glad You Asked
(Monday - April 08, 2019) Source: Vogue - There has been a 400 percent increase in the consumption of clothing over the past 20 years, according to data provided by TheRealReal. What happens to all of those clothes after they go out of style? The answer is not great... 

How To Feed 530 Million Europeans With Sustainable Food By 2050
(Thursday - April 11, 2019) Source: CleanTechnica - The current European food system is not sustainable. On the bright side, the European food system provides 4.2 million jobs in Europe, feeds more than 500 million Europeans, and its greenhouse gases emissions have decreased 20%... 

When is Sustainability Unsustainable?
(Tuesday - April 09, 2019) Source: The Fish Site - With a growing population putting ever greater pressure on the Earth’s resources, everyone in the food production industry needs to be working sustainably. 

World Economic Forum Speakers Urge Governments to Lead Sustainability Efforts
(Tuesday - April 09, 2019)  Source: Al Arabiya News - Thani Ahmed al-Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the United Arab Emirates, said the humanitarian effects of climate change are huge, in a session held Sunday at the World... 

Top 3 Corporate Sustainability Trends All Business Leaders Should Be Watching
(Wednesday - April 10, 2019) Source: Forbes - Here are the top trends in corporate sustainability for 2019 that I’ve identified by analyzing the data from this year’s EDF Climate Corps host applications... 

New Pathways for Sustainable Agriculture
(Wednesday - April 10, 2019) Source: Science Daily - Hedges, flowering strips and other seminatural habitats provide food and nesting places for insects and birds in agricultural landscapes. This also has advantages for agriculture: bees, flies, beetles and other animal groups... 

There’s a Lot of Bad News in the UN Global Environment Outlook, but a Sustainable Future is Still Possible
(Friday - April 12, 2019) Source: The Conversation - The environment has continued to deteriorate since the first GEO-6 report in 1997, with potentially irreversible impacts if not effectively addressed. But pathways to significant change do exist, and a sustainable future is still...

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ESG Topics & Issues Headlines

European Commission Finds German Automakers Illegally Colluded on Emissions Technology
(Monday - April 08, 2019) Source: DW 

Two-thirds of Glacier Ice in the Alps 'Will Melt by 2100'
(Friday - April 12, 2019) Source: The Guardian 

Headlines From the Corporate Sector

GM Sales Fall, But Buyers Clamor for Trucks and SUVs
(Monday - April 08, 2019) Source: CNBC 

What you Need to Know about a Popular Weed Killer’s Alleged Link to Cancer
(Tuesday - April 09, 2019) Source: PBS 

General Electric Is About Survival
(Tuesday - April 09, 2019) Source: The Street

General Motors and BMW To Use Blockchain To Share Autonomous Vehicle Data
(Wednesday - April 10, 2019) Source: Coin Desk

Ford CEO Tamps Down Expectations for First Autonomous Vehicles
(Wednesday - April 10, 2019) Source: Bloomberg

Tesla & GM Electric Car Sales Could Get a Big Boost if This Bill Passes
(Friday - April 12, 2019) Source: CNN

Boeing Shareholders File Class-action Lawsuit Over 737 Max Plane Crashes
(Wednesday - April 10, 2019) Source: NBC News

Judge Threatens to Stop Carnival Ships from Docking in US
(Friday - April 12, 2019) Source: Snopes

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