Use a Bot to Make Ethical Investments

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A new company, OpenInvest, wants you to use its bots to make your monetary life more ethical. A very popular way to invest in the market is to use index funds, which are a smorgasbord of stocks which will hopefully rise with the stock market as a whole. Most people don’t control what’s in their index fund because it’s managed by a large firm. However, OpenInvest (and others) want you to design your own index fund based on your morals. The fund is created by answering questions and proclaiming what you don’t want to invest in (like arms or mining). The service is only available in the USA at the moment so let’s hope that competitors pop up proving ethical investing like this.

But instead of buying stocks through index funds, as the other robos do, OpenInvest uses individual stocks. Users click through a series of menus to create an “issue profile,” checking boxes to select investment themes—such as gender equality or reduced carbon emissions—as well as groups of companies to exclude. The preset screens lean left. Users can nix weapons manufacturers, tobacco companies, and even those whose executives have backed Donald Trump.

Based on those preferences, OpenInvest creates a basket of more than 60 stocks that both jibes with its customers’ wishes and should, the company says, track the broader market. It balances factors such as size, sector, and each stock’s sensitivity to the market’s ups and downs. OpenInvest says it’s still passive because beating the market isn’t a goal.

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It’s Time To Divest

The use of coal to generate electricity is coming to an end, and one of the many reasons coal’s time is up is thanks to divestment. Divestment of fossil fuels has been argued on university campuses for years and started largely as a moral argument that we shouldn’t profit off the reckless destruction of the panel. Since then the movement has evolved to the world of large investment companies because it also makes economic sense.

As global consciousness of the threat of climate change increases there is more and more reason to not invest in the fossil fuel industry. What’s more is that the low price of oil and the successes of renewable energy sources has made the case for divestment stronger.

The divestment movement shares a name and even a bit of the same emotional urgency as the campaign decades ago to get business to pull out of South Africa to press for change in the country’s apartheid system.

“I think that divestment can play the role of accelerating the development that we really need — we really need as fast as possible to get the carbon out of the energy system and divestment is one tool of doing it,” Reverend Henrik Grape of the Church of Sweden said on the sidelines of a conference in the European Parliament. The Church of Sweden decided in 2008 to get rid of its fossil fuel assets.

The movement today can count heavyweight investors like Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, insurance giants Axa and Allianz, major European universities, cities and churches among its supporters. All have made some form of commitment to pull cash from coal assets and, in some cases, other fossil fuels too.

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Thanks to Delaney!

8 Development Banks Combine Efforts for Sustainable Development

Eight development banks from around the world have decided the best way to encourage more sustainable transit development is to combine their efforts. They are looking at accelerating their investments in transport solutions that are better for the environment than current transport solutions. Transportation consumes a heck of a lot of oil and even marginal decreases in oil consumption can save money and reduce the rate of climate change.

In their statement, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), CAF-Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), and the World Bank (WB) pledged to speed up action on:

  • Climate Finance: MDBs have recently committed to substantially increase financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation over the next few years. Transport is expected to play a key role in that commitment.

  • Low-carbon Transport Solutions: The MDBs will increase their focus on low-carbon transport solutions and will continue to harmonize tools and metrics to assess transport-related GHG emissions.

  • Adaptation: The MDBs will jointly develop a systematic approach to mainstream climate resilience in transport policies, plans and investments.

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Morocco Leads in Cutting Subsidies to Oil and Gas Industries

Oil and gas companies get a ton of subsidies from governments which holds back the adoption of renewable energy. In most countries, the gas industry is supported by policies encourage car use and other related infrastructure decisions. Sometimes, like in Morocco, fuel is directly subsidized and recently the country found that it was just too expensive to augment the market so bluntly.

Morocco should be held up as a ‘poster child’ for effective green policymaking, according to the World Bank’s top climate official.

Speaking at an environmental meeting in Pori, Finland, Rachel Kyte said the Rabat government’s recent decision to cut tax breaks for petrol and gas used a template other developing nations could follow.

“What Morocco did was remove subsidies on fossil fuels, because they couldn’t afford it, not because they had a big climate goal, but because they couldn’t afford the subsidies,” she said.

“Then they started to incentivise investments in renewable energy, domestic and foreign.”

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The Purpose Economy

Triple-bottom line companies and other terms that describe companies that focus on more than just profit keep coming. The most recent is what is no referred to as the purpose economy in a new book. The idea is that as we run out of resources on the planet we need to refocus how we measure and talk about economic success.

A generation of Purpose Economy pioneers, like Whole Foods Market’s John Mackey and Virgin’s Richard Branson, are challenging others to follow their lead and to create new frameworks both to do well and to do good, which raises the bar for the business community and turns successful theories into movements. Richard Branson launched the B Team, a coalition aiming to go beyond traditional corporate social responsibility, and instead embrace what they call Plan B: “a plan that puts people and the planet alongside profit.” John Mackey and his team are promoting a new model for business he calls Conscious Capitalism, which inspired his book of the same name.

Other large corporations have shown signs of new, purpose-focused frameworks as well. Some of the most traditional companies like Deloitte and Pepsi have started to put their toes in the water, as their leaders recognize that while they can’t change overnight, they can develop long-term visions to make purpose a priority. In light of this, they have taken proactive and prudent steps in that direction. Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi has framed their north star as “performance with purpose” and begun to make “healthy eats” and the environment core to their success. Deloitte, a consultancy with 200,000 employees around the globe, has made it a priority to embrace a culture of purpose, realizing that successful companies must be “keenly aware of the purpose they fulfill for clients, employees, community, and other groups,” and they have integrated those goals into their business’s core activities.

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