Category: January 2014 – Sustainable Solutions & Strategies

ImpactAssets Releases Annual Impact Investing Firm Showcase

Public, Searchable “IA 50” Features Experienced Impact Investment Managers


ImpactAssets ( ) recently launches the “IA 50,” a free online resource for impact investors and their advisors. The annual compilation includes experienced fund managers representing a broad range of investment opportunities that deliver social and/or environmental benefits along with financial returns. Fund managers included in the IA 50 2013 manage a combined $10.8 billion in assets within the impact investing market.

“For several years, interest in impact investing outpaced opportunities for mainstream investors to participate,” said Jed Emerson, Chief Impact Strategist of ImpactAssets. “The IA 50 was designed to help convert interest into action by showcasing funds with expert management and solid track records.”

The IA 50, now in its third year, is the first publicly available database of private debt and equity impact investment fund managers. It includes a purposefully broad range of organizations including traditional investment firms as well as emerging specialists, and can be filtered based on criteria including asset class, focus area and impact metrics. The selection committee was chaired by Jed Emerson and included experts from The CAPROCK Group, Eirene, Haas Business School, Labrador Ventures, Toniic, and UBS.

“The desire to invest in ways that deliver social benefit as well as financial return is widespread and well-documented,” said Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative and member of the IA 50 selection committee. “The modern marketplace for facilitating these investments is in an exciting phase of growth; impact investing is taking its place as a standard financial portfolio option.”

The IA 50 is not an index or investable platform and does not constitute an offering or recommend specific products. It is a not a replacement for due diligence. In order to be considered for the IA 50 2013, fund managers needed to have at least $5 million in assets under management, more than 3 years of experience with impact investing and demonstrated commitment to impact. Additional details on the selection process are here:

About ImpactAssets

ImpactAssets is a nonprofit financial services firm that increases the flow of capital into investments that deliver financial, social, and environmental returns. ImpactAssets’ donor advised fund (“The Giving Fund”), impact investment notes, and field building initiatives enable philanthropists, other asset owners, and their wealth advisors to advance social or environmental change through investment.

Extracting Fossil Fuels from Your Portfolio: A Guide to Personal Divestment and Reinvestment

From Green Century,, and Trillium


Green Century Capital Management (Green Century),, and Trillium Asset Management, LLC (Trillium) recently the published a new paper, Extracting Fossil Fuels from Your Portfolio: A Guide to Personal Divestment and Reinvestment.

You can download a copy of the new Guide at  or  or

The frequency and severity of extreme weather systems continue to impact the lives of people around the globe and increasingly in our own communities. Many investors are becoming acutely aware of the presence of fossil fuel companies in their own portfolios and want to transition their investments away from the industry that is principally responsible for causing a changing climate.

“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of “Investors have an important and special role to play in the climate change movement. I hope this Guide will help you find yours.”

This Guide which aims to help individuals better understand fossil fuel divestment, provides clear steps to move your money out of coal, oil, and gas companies, and gives tips on how to proactively invest in sustainable companies and investment vehicles.

“Once divested, funds can then be reinvested in companies that are identifying new market opportunities related to clean energy and the move to a more sustainable economy. These companies will be the beneficiaries as the incentives change to support a low-carbon future,” concluded Matthew W. Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management.

“From New York to Los Angeles, increasing numbers of people have talked to us about divesting for moral, political and financial reasons,” noted Leslie Samuelrich, President, Green Century Capital Management. “Over the last 12 months, net assets in our fossil fuel free Balanced Funds have increased nearly 50%, a fact that may signal that investors are eager for new approaches to curbing climate change.”[1]

We hope this Guide and the resources in the appendix are used by investors to educate themselves, their family and friends, or their financial planner to go fossil fuel free.

Article Note [1]  46% as of 9/30/2013

You should consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds, please go to  or email  or call 1-800-93-GREEN. Please read the Prospectus carefully before investing.

Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, or the market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Bonds are subject to risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation.

The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 10/13


Jamie Henn, / Email  / phone 415-601-9337

Randy Rice, Trillium Asset Management / Email  / phone 617-515-6889

Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Capital Management / Email  / phone 617-482-0800

Source: Green Century website


Calvert CEO Barbara Krumsiek Talks to Women Entrepreneurs about Corporations, Careers and Choices


Calvert CEO discusses why so few women are top corporate leaders and provides insights to navigating three distinct phases in women’s careers

At the recent fourth annual Tedx BayArea Global Women Entrepreneurs event in December 2013, Calvert CEO Barbara Krumsiek addressed an important question for women building their career: Why aren’t we there yet?

Before Barbara Krumsiek shared her insights underlying the question: Why aren’t we there yet?, she defined some key words: “We” are working women, particularly those in corporations; “there” refers to full equality, opportunity, access to capital and seats at the board table and in the C–suite; and “yet” is now.

According to Krumsiek, many corporations are systemically flawed. She has seen this in her 40–year career within large corporate environments and through her work at Calvert Investments assessing companies. Over time, flaws become embedded in a company’s operating culture. Even companies deemed as highly successful have some intrinsic flaws. An example of one systemic flaw is that diversity is not sufficiently represented in top leadership positions in our country’s top 100 companies. Through research and other studies, Calvert has found that gender equity—which can be a proxy for other diversity—is a key indicator of a company’s successes, including financial success.

Krumsiek contends that most C–corps are really he–corps, since the lion’s share of positions in upper management—including board of director seats—are held by men. Although well–educated and often well–prepared for leadership, women are not yet at parity with their male counterparts. In the 100 largest companies in the U.S., women occupy only 14% of senior executive positions and only 4% of CEO positions. Getting to parity will take time. To that end, Krumsiek offers women some insights and advice based on her own career journey.

Barbara Krumsiek divides a woman’s career into three stages: Meritocracy, the Messy Middle and Leadership.

Meritocracy is the first stage of a woman’s career and denotes a system in which talent is recognized and rewarded. It is not unusual for women to spend a decade or more in Meritocracy. Learning, growing and planning are important in this stage. But compensation is the keystone of Meritocracy. It is in Meritocracy, however, that many women experience a wage–gap with their male peers, a notable systemic flaw of many corporate cultures and typically unrelated to actual job performance.

The Messy Middle is likely the most challenging stage of a woman’s career and often the longest. This is the place where a corporation’s toxic culture may cause a woman to lose self–confidence or believe that her career opportunities are limited. It is in this career danger–zone that many talented women with high leadership potential drop out of the corporate workforce. The reasons for leaving vary, but Krumsiek believes that the exodus has much to do with the intrinsic flaws associated with the politics and cultures of large organizations.

Leadership is the position to which many career women aspire. It is at the far end of the career spectrum, and still largely closed to women. Today, women hold only 8% of the five highest paid positions within top companies. Women also comprise only 19% of S&P 100 companies’ director seats. Corporations are guided by their boards, and most top American companies simply do not have enough women serving on corporate boards.

Based on her experiences, Krumsiek offers career advice to women in each of the three career stages:

Meritocracy: Don’t let anyone else fill in the blanks. Women need to find discreet ways to share their strengths with leaders and peers. Competent, ambitious women can easily be overlooked or blatantly ignored if they are not adept at the subtle art of self–promotion. If you don’t tell your own story, you run the risk of someone else improvising it for you—and getting it wrong. Krumsiek advises, “Know your strengths and find ways to let others know how competent you are. Have confidence in yourself and write your own story.”

The Messy Middle: To move ahead, think obstacle course instead of corporate ladder. Change your thinking about climbing the corporate ladder and instead think of your career as an obstacle course. When assessing the business landscape, be guided by your gut as well as your intellect. Use positive politics whenever necessary. “Compassion and competition can coexist when you picture your career as an obstacle course and not a ladder,” notes Krumsiek.

Leadership: Declare your life balanced. No one can—or should—dictate how you balance your life. “Whatever you choose as your life balance is right,” says Krumsiek. Avoid others’ advice or judgments on having or not having it all. Do what is best for you, own it and declare it.

In conclusion, Barbara Krumsiek encourages women to make an impact by staying informed, supporting other women in their careers, facing challenges and challenging others, and investing in change. To do so will get women to wherever “there” may be in the Why aren’t we there yet? quandary.

Watch Barbara Krumsiek’s Tedx Talk at-


The Next Financial Bubble: Indigenous Peoples Rights Report Exposes Risk to Shareholders When Indigenous Rights Are Ignored

By Rebecca Adamson and First Peoples Worldwide


Are extractive companies operating on Indigenous land overvalued?

First Peoples Worldwide released its Indigenous Rights Risk Report at the recent 2013 SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing. The report analyzed 52 U.S.-based extractive companies listed on the Russell 1000® Index and assessed 370 oil, gas and mining sites located on or near Indigenous Peoples land. The results are eye opening. 92% of the sites posed a medium to high risk to shareholders. This is concerning given that only 5 of the 52 companies had an Indigenous Peoples policy for productively engaging Indigenous communities, leaving shareholders exposed to considerable risk.

One of the companies First Peoples assessed was Southwestern Energy, which on October 6, 2013, a stock analysts said: “looks like a great long-term investment” and “it is a low political risk company.” Less than two weeks later, on October 17th, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested about 40 Elsipogtog and Mi’kmaq First Nations tribal members and activists, using rubber bullets and pepper spray. The protestors had been blockading the road to SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy, since June. Southwestern Energy had requested “a permanent injunction to prevent protests against its bid to explore for gas,” claiming the blockade was costing them $60,000 a day. However, the injunction was denied on October 22nd. There is no timetable for when the blockade and Southwestern Energy’s losses will end.

Given this rosy stock forecast in the face of these troubling events, are traditional approaches to assessing the risk of oil, gas, and mining operations located on or near Indigenous Peoples land relevant anymore? First Peoples does not think so and has proposed a new risk assessment tool in its new Indigenous Rights Risk Report.

In the report, First Peoples rated the above-mentioned Southwestern Energy site a “High” risk. “Traditional financial analysis is no longer enough to predict the risk of an oil, gas or mineral site that is on or near Indigenous land,” says Nick Pelosi, First Peoples’ Corporate Engagement Associate. “The risk of not respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights must be considered for an accurate risk assessment.”

Southwestern Energy is not alone. Nearly all of the companies in the study had a medium to high-risk profile. Of the companies that had over ten sites operating on or near Indigenous land (25 percent of our sample), 92 percent had at least one high-risk site and 23 percent had over five high-risk sites. Take into consideration that only 5 of those companies have an Indigenous Peoples policy, the vast majority of companies are flying blind when it comes to operating on Indigenous land, thus exposing their investors and shareholders to incredible risk.

The risk of not respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights is only going to increase. First Peoples president and co-founder Rebecca Adamson forecasts a confluence of events that will make the extraction of oil, gas and minerals from Indigenous land riskier in the future. She says, “First, Indigenous Peoples have more rights enshrined at the international and national level, and are exercising them more effectively than ever before. Second, as extractive industries search the globe for oil, gas and minerals, they are finding them increasingly on or near Indigenous land. And third, digital media is allowing Indigenous Peoples and their allies to access and share information more easily, giving them the ability to tell their story and conduct advocacy campaigns on a global scale that can directly impact the profitability and value of a company.”

Therefore, it is more critical than ever for investors and shareholders to be able to access unbiased information about Indigenous Peoples and from Indigenous Peoples so they can make sound investment decisions. First Peoples hope this report will be a risk analysis tool for investors and shareholders as they make investment decisions in the extractive industry. Ideally, it will also act as a platform for Indigenous Peoples and investors to collaborate together on shareholder action campaigns that drive policy changes companies need to make to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and maximize shareholder returns.

Learn more about First Peoples Worldwide at


SRI Investing and the “P” Word – Performance

By Chuck Carlson, CFA CEO, Horizon Investment Services


Let me just start by saying that what you are about to read may anger and possibly even offend you. That is not my intent. My goal is to bring a newbie’s perspective to the topic of socially responsible investing (SRI), especially as it relates to that “P” word – performance.

My firm, Horizon Investment Services, was founded in 1997. (Horizon Investment is the sister company of Horizon Publishing, one of the oldest investment newsletter publishers in the country. Our flagship publication, Dow Theory Forecasts, has been published weekly since 1946.) Horizon brings a different perspective to socially responsible investing. Indeed, we are not a quintessential SRI investment firm in the sense that it is not our mission, as a firm, to invest in a “socially responsible” way. Rather, the mission of our firm is to provide high-performance investment solutions for investment advisors and investors. It is with that focus on performance and problem solving that we entered the SRI space roughly five years ago, at the behest of clients interested in socially responsible investing.

One of the long-time criticisms of SRI – and I know it is one that gets ardent SRI boosters’ blood boiling – is that you are destined to underperform if you invest in an SRI way. Truth be told, on average, any active investment management strategies – SRI or otherwise – have underperformed benchmarks over most time periods. So the criticism seems unfair to me, or at least selective.

Still, as my firm looked at the space, it seemed traditional SRI did face certain hurdles that could impede performance. By definition, SRI is exclusionary. Now I’m fully aware of the literature that states that socially responsible companies are attractive investments because they are, in fact, socially responsible. But I can also roll out a Tesla full of literature that argues that anytime you reduce your opportunity set, you hamstring performance.

Regardless of where you side in this argument, it is unarguable that there are stocks that will perform exceptionally well in the future that socially responsible investors will never give themselves even the chance of owning.

In addition to a reduced opportunity set, two other potential problems with SRI investing are:

  Wearing too many hats


We believe successful investing is about consistency, discipline, and especially focus. When we were asked to build an SRI solution, we approached the process with this idea that we need to focus on what we do best. We knew what we didn’t do best was vetting companies for their particular SRI characteristics. We didn’t have the tools, resources, experience, or time to do this. We discovered pretty quickly that being an expert in discerning whether a company is “socially responsible” is a full-time job. Many companies have sprawling business operations, each of them requiring an analysis as to their SRI-worthiness. And, to be frank, SRI is a heavily nuanced world, where definitions of what is or isn’t “socially responsible” are hotly debated. Looking at it purely from an investment practitioner perspective, it takes a lot of time to sift through all of the opinions and information, time that is better spent focusing on what we do best, which is the investment side of the equation.

Now, I don’t mean to give short-shrift to the importance of doing this vetting. It’s just that it is work better left to those more equipped to do it. The bottom line is that I believe that typical “SRI investment firms” wear too many hats. They try to be experts at both vetting companies and picking stocks. Perhaps a reason performance has been underwhelming in the space is that typical SRI firms are spread too thin.

Emotion is the potential bane of any investment program. I know what I’m about to say will send many of you running to your computer to write me a nasty email, but here it is – SRI is emotional investing. At its core, socially responsible investing has a strong emotional element. It is investing with your head and your heart. It is investing in things you feel strongly about, that tie you emotionally as well as intellectually to a company. Unfortunately, because of this emotional bent, I think there is room for error from an investment standpoint. For example, falling in love with a stock is an occupational hazard as an investment manager, and it seems the risk of doing this in the SRI world is even greater. It may be difficult to sell a stock whose technology or corporate governance line up exactly with your socially responsible passions and beliefs. You may be willing to give the stock the benefit of the doubt from an investment perspective because it scores so many points on the socially responsible side of the ledger. But those sorts of emotional decisions impact performance.

The good news is that an awareness of these potential problems means you can address them in a socially responsible investment program. (By the way, these are fixes that even individual investors can build into their own socially responsible investment programs.)

For example, to combat the problem of wearing too many hats, my firm works with experts on the vetting side. We take their work and apply our investment expertise. We achieve this through what we call “enhanced indexing,” where we start with an underlying index or basket of expertly-vetted socially responsible stocks and then apply our investment overlay to pull out what we hope are the best stocks from an investment perspective. This division of labor allows each entity to focus on its respective strengths, thus hopefully enhancing both sides of the equation – socially responsible selection and investment selection.

To address the problem of emotions, we employ an investment approach that strips the process of all emotion – quantitative investing.

Quantitative investing is the process by which investments are bought and sold based on evaluating such measurable characteristics as revenues, earnings, profit margins, price/earnings ratios, and finances. Underlying most quantitative approaches is a computer-driven model that evaluates universes of stocks based on a variety of metrics. (My firm’s proprietary model is our Quadrix® stock-rating system. Quadrix ranks more than 4,600 stocks based on more than 90 different variables for each stock.) What usually falls out of the model is a strict “rules-based” methodology for stock selection and portfolio construction that can be tailored to fit any number of investment mandates, including SRI and its various branches (ESG, Fossil Fuel Free, Faith Based, Sustainability, etc.).

While no investment approach is infallible, we believe quantitative investing offers a number of potential advantages to traditional active SRI management:

   Leave your emotions at the door. Quantitative investing, with its rules-based, “by-the-numbers” approach, eliminates emotion from the investment process.

  Tax efficiency. With quantitative strategies, it is easier to create strict methodologies that lend themselves to greater tax efficiency. For example, certain quant methodologies may have hard-wired into the strategy a mandatory holding period that boosts tax efficiency.

  Improved sell discipline. One of the hardest things to get right in an investment program is the sell side of the equation. The fear of taking a loss or the greed that comes with falling in love with a stock can have negative consequences for portfolios. Quantitative investment strategies that rely on a strict methodology for both buying and selling stocks bring consistency to the sell discipline. In fact, a part of most quantitative strategies is a scoring methodology that ranks stocks. While this ranking is useful when selecting stocks, it can prove an invaluable tool for ongoing evaluation of portfolio stocks.

To be sure, quantitative investing strategies do not always produce desired returns, especially during “outlier” market events, such as 2008. Still, the major strength of quantitative investing — the ability to remain disciplined, consistent, and focused at a time when investor emotions are boiling over — helped many quant strategies identify attractive values that produced solid returns in 2009.

No single approach or strategy has a monopoly on investment success. Still, we believe a strong case can be made that strategies that eliminate emotion, instill discipline and consistency, and bring a greater robustness to the stock-selection process can help tilt the odds of investment success in your favor. Quantitative investment strategies offer a compelling solution for creating “alpha” and represent a viable approach to addressing some of the problems that can occur with socially responsible investing.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding. So how has my firm’s quantitative, enhanced-index approach to socially responsible investing performed? All three of Horizon’s separately managed account strategies in the SRI space – Enhanced Socially Responsible, Enhanced Christian Values, and Enhanced SRI Fossil Fuel Free – have outperformed the S&P 500 Index after all fees and expenses for 2013 and for the life of the strategies.

Article by Charles Carlson, CFA, the CEO of Hammond, Indiana-based Horizon Investment Services. For more information on the firm and its various SRI strategies go to-

The Quadrix® stock-rating system is a proprietary product wholly-owned by Horizon Publishing Company, Horizon Investment Services’ sister company. Horizon Investment Services has contracted with Horizon Publishing Company to use the Quadrix stock-rating system for its stock-screening processes.

Chuck can be reached by email at-


What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees

By Tony Juniper, book author


What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on TreesWhen a catastrophe like the recent typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines draws public attention towards the sublime power of Nature to wreak havoc in human affairs, we can see clearly how our livelihoods, both existential and financial, depend upon a healthy relationship to the environment that surrounds us. But these momentary large-scale epiphanies do very little to fundamentally transform cultural habits. Instead, the dogma of the “bottom-line” driving global free-market capitalism and the myopic habits of consumerism continue, as if our thinking were veiled by an omnipotent and unconscious force. But what if I told you that the “bottom-line” isn’t really what we think it is, and that money really does grow on trees?

Hard line economists don’t need to reject fundamental capitalist principles to reconcile human values with environmental concern. What’s needed is to lift the veil that currently blocks our perception of the complex interactions between living systems and human economies. Then we can begin to see the true, sometimes indirect, but very real costs of our actions. Once we acquire a concrete understanding of the substantial role that ecosystems play in providing the services upon which human culture thrives, we can accurately assess the tremendous value inherent in maintaining the health of living systems, as well as the high-price paid by ignoring them.

So, you might ask, “WHAT HAS NATURE EVER DONE FOR US?” Well, vultures – and, to be specific, Indian vultures – provide an example. These birds are today virtually extinct across the subcontinent, a fact that has been barely reported in the West, and yet has had huge implications. For when India’s vultures were almost gone, it became apparent that they had been supporting the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people.

For centuries, India’s vultures performed an essential cleaning function, eating the flesh of the many dead animals that littered the countryside. A hungry flock would clean up the carcass of a dead cow in a matter of minutes, leaving only bones. So when the vultures disappeared, and the putrefying fly-ridden corpses were left to rot under the hot sun, the effects were disastrous and wide-ranging. The Indian vultures had been inadvertently killed off by anti- inflammatory drugs injected into cattle and buffalo. When these farm animals died, residues left in their carcasses were ingested by vultures – and proved lethal to them. This soon became a problem, not least because India’s forty million or so vultures were between them eating about 12 million tonnes (tonnes are equivalent to 2,304.6 lbs) of flesh each year. Without vultures to clean up, there was an explosion in the population of wild dogs, which now had more food. More dogs led to more dog bites, and that caused more rabies infections among people. The disease killed tens of thousands; in the process costing the Indian economy a figure estimated in excess of $30 billion.

The example of the vultures are just one among thousands natural services that are (or were) provided for free by Nature, and which are being removed to our cost. That cost is now the subject of a new branch of economics, whereby researchers are beginning to put financial values on Nature. The hope is that through knowing more about the value of Nature it will be possible to create the tools needed to reflect that value in economic transactions. Should this happen on a sufficiently large scale, then the impacts could be profound, for the numbers being generated are huge – in many cases dwarfing the value of more traditionally quantifiable economic activities.

Natural services are beginning to attract the attention of not only academic economists and ecologists, but also governments, companies and international agencies. And that is what this book is all about – an explanation of what Nature does for us, why it is so important, and what we can do to ensure Nature keeps on doing it.

This vast and rapidly accumulating body of research I believe signals an emerging new era of debate. For while much of the environmental discussion in recent years has been concerned with climate change, carbon emissions and how to cut them, a new wave of attention is breaking, focused on what Nature does for us (and finding ways to keep it doing what it does).

From recycling miracles in the soil to the abundant genetic codebook underpinning our food and pharmaceutical needs, the coral reefs that protect many coasts and the pollinating insects that enable much of our food to grow, awareness and attention are switching to the economic value of Nature, and crucially, how to protect that value. What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? is a book full of immediate impactful stories, many of which contain warnings, such as the $81 billion cost of Hurricane Katrina that could have been substantially less if the natural wetlands around the levees hadn’t been developed; while others reveal promising and enlightening tales of how birds protect fruit harvests and rainforests absorb billions of tons of carbon released from automobiles and power stations.

In ecological terms, the coming decades are set to be the most momentous for millions of years. The good news is that we can anticipate rising human demands on Nature and manage them with a wide range of tools. Many are already in use, and their effectiveness already demonstrated, while others are in development; the challenge is to refine them and bring them to scale. Crucially this will rely on changes to economics and, equally crucially, on the popular culture and philosophical outlook of societies that shape the choices we collectively make. We must begin to see Nature for what, at one level, it so obviously is – the source of essential services: a provider of insurance, a controller of disease, a waste recycler, an essential part of health provision, a water utility, a controller of pests, a massive carbon capture and storage system and as the ultimate converter of solar energy.

Looking forward, is there really any debate as to the extent that we will need Nature to provide all this? And, indeed, that it is needed now more than ever, with our rising global population? But all too many of the people who run our world – finance ministries, presidents, bankers, the CEOs of global corporations – behave as if this is some kind of mythology, not real economics at all, and a merely marginal question. Better, they argue, to promote growth and development and our problems will be solved.

The simple conclusion I reach is that we need to take a different approach to how we look at Nature and the earth. If we can do that, then Nature can be maintained and enhanced, for the benefit of people and the rest of life, indefinitely into the future. We need to garden the earth, to nurture and husband its assets, aware of the implications of our decisions. We need to produce food and develop cities in ways that keep natural systems intact and capable of discharging their essential functions.

Key to making this happen is the realization that Nature is not separate from the economy, a drag on growth or an expensive distraction. We know all we need to do things differently. The Biosphere still works and we can keep it that way, if we wish to.

The alternative is to carry on as we are now. After all, what has Nature ever done for us?

Article by Tony Juniper, his recent book “What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?“ was published by Synergetic Press in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mr. Juniper is one of the top ten environmental figures of the last thirty years; a campaigner, author, and sustainability adviser to the Prince of Wales and various NGOs; and former executive director of Friends of the Earth. For more information on the author go to-


2014 the Year for a Smart Carbon Tax

By Joe Keefe, President and CEO of Pax World Mgmt, and Pax World Funds

The federal government in Washington, DC is at an all-time low in public esteem. This has to do with a lot of things, from intransigent right-wing ideology (e.g., debt ceiling debacle) to bureaucratic incompetence (e.g., Affordable Care Act website), to partisan gamesmanship (e.g., gerrymandered congressional districts), to outright, willful ignorance (e.g., climate change deniers), to a campaign finance system that produces policy makers held captive to the very special interests they are supposed to regulate (e.g., Wall Street, agribusiness, energy companies). The result is a crisis of legitimacy where ordinary citizens have lost faith in the capacity of government to solve their problems.

There is no issue where this legitimation crisis is more apparent, or more consequential, than the looming disaster of climate change. While the Obama administration has proposed carbon pollution standards for new coal-fired power plants and may issue regulations governing existing plants, climate change has hardly been an administration priority. Nor is it realistic to expect any action whatsoever, for the foreseeable future, from our deadlocked, paralyzed Congress.

Meanwhile, the scientific consensus is that increasing global temperature by more than 2°C will likely cause irreversible, potentially catastrophic damage – and we are now more than halfway there. The International Energy Agency has determined that staying below this 2°C warming threshold will require a global “carbon budget” that limits fossil-fuel consumption to one-third of known reserves by 2050. This means that some two-thirds of coal, oil and gas reserves would have to be left in the ground, at least until 2050.

Some have begun calling this the “carbon bubble.” If two-thirds of known reserves must stay in the ground, then this “unburnable carbon” would not be monetized, becoming instead a stranded asset or liability that is not being priced into the current valuations of fossil-fuel companies. Fossil-fuel companies, and an economy that subsidizes these (and other emitters) by letting them dump their carbon pollution into the atmosphere for free, would see significant disruptions if and when these externalities are accounted for.

There is also a burgeoning movement, led by Bill McKibben’s, advocating that colleges and universities, and investors more broadly, divest fossil-fuel companies from their portfolios. Such divestment is clearly advocated on moral grounds – to save the planet – but is increasingly premised on financial grounds as well – to avoid the risks associated with the carbon bubble and what these stranded assets or unburnable carbon will do to investment portfolios holding fossil-fuel company stocks.

There is some debate within the sustainable investment community about which strategy – divestment or engagement – is best. My own view is that neither strategy is sufficient but both make sense and need to be pursued in tandem. At my company, Pax World, we are pursuing a combination of strategies including (1) partial divestment [we offer a fossil fuel-free fund], (2) investments in energy efficiency, alternative energy and low-carbon technologies, (3) carbon reduction strategies across portfolios, (4) shareholder engagement, and (5) public policy advocacy.

The sustainable investment community needs to take such a multi-pronged approach. We can’t let the perfect strategy become the enemy of the good strategy. One can divest fossil fuels and still own a portfolio that remains very carbon intensive. One can engage with companies until the cows come home and make no discernible progress. There is no perfect solution, there are only solutions. What we need to do is design such solutions for investors.

We have an historic opportunity to help investors “green” their investment portfolios by offering an array of strategies that reduce exposure to fossil fuels, reduce the carbon intensity within portfolios, invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other resource optimization strategies, and raise investor voices to advocate for stronger corporate and public policies to address climate change. In this latter regard, credit must go to Ceres and its offshoot, the Investor Network on Climate Risk, as well as to the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) and others for their work engaging with companies and institutional investors on climate. Ceres and CTI recently led a coalition of some 70 institutional investors (including my company, Pax World), representing approximately $3 trillion in assets, who sent letters to 45 fossil-fuel companies asking them to examine their exposure to the risks associated with unburnable carbon.

Whatever strategies we pursue must be practical, however, and it is important that the whole “unburnable carbon” framework, as well as the fossil-fuel divestment campaign, not become unhinged from reality. The unburnable carbon thesis (if the risk of owning fossil-fuel companies is to be more than simply hypothetical) is premised on a credible threat of government action to put a price on carbon – but such action is at best a remote possibility, at least in the U.S. The fossil-fuel divestment campaign (if it is to be more than simply symbolic) is premised on the notion that the fossil fuel industry can be brought to its knees as a result of popular pressure – an equally remote possibility.

The New York Times recently reported that some of the nation’s largest companies, including Microsoft, Walmart, General Electric, Walt Disney and Google, but also including Exxon Mobil and the big oil companies, are beginning to incorporate into their business plans the expectation that more governments will regulate or put a price on carbon. It is hard to imagine enough businesses taking significant steps, however, without a substantial prod from government, or a substantial prod from investors, or preferably both. Because effective government action is not likely for some time to come, this is where investors come in.

But if investors are to wield adequate clout, divestment alone is an insufficient strategy. In fact, any strategy that tries to make the fossil-fuel companies the bad guys rather than winning them over to the good guys column strikes me as the wrong way to go. We need carrots as well as sticks; we need engagement as well as divestment.

Prevailing in a head-to-head contest against the fossil-fuel industry in sufficient time to prevent irreversible climate damage is highly unlikely.

Given our current political divide, our campaign finance system, our evolutionary bias in favor of focusing on immediate rather than long-term threats, it is unrealistic to think that climate change can be successfully tackled if fossil-fuel interests remain aligned in steadfast opposition. When it comes to climate, the race is against time, and the fossil-fuel industry will simply dump too much carbon pollution into the atmosphere before they can be successfully subdued. They will harvest and burn all of their known reserves – and continue to invest billions of dollars in further exploration – unless they are given incentives to pursue a different course.

Moreover, if government is unprepared to act – if instead of putting a price on carbon it continues to subsidize it – then investors face considerably less risk than the “unburnable carbon” thesis advances, and may continue to make gobs of money from investing in fossil-fuel companies for many years to come.

So, neither the “unburnable carbon” framework nor fossil fuel divestment is sufficient. If our core strategies are premised either on government action or routing the fossil-fuel lobby, we could be in for a long haul. We need a better strategy. This will require not simply confronting the fossil-fuel industry but working with them to fashion solutions. Moreover, any truly effective strategy to combat climate change will require a carbon tax. Without a carbon tax, there is no clear pathway forward.

Exxon Mobil and some of the other large oil companies have tepidly endorsed a carbon tax, at least as preferable to cap and trade. Other companies could be persuaded as well, and this strikes me as one area where we should be focusing our efforts – on turning the biggest opponents of a sane climate policy into its biggest proponents. To do this, we must fashion a strategy – and a carbon tax – that is actually in their interests. We need to align interests – isn’t that what we in the sustainable investment community have always preached?

So, how do we convince the fossil-fuel industry that a carbon tax is in their interests? In my view, the only way the fossil-fuel industry is going to embrace a carbon tax and leave two-thirds of its known reserves in the ground is if it is paid to do so. Essentially, we need to make it as profitable for them to produce clean energy as it is to produce dirty energy.

A well-crafted carbon tax – what we might call a Smart Carbon Tax – may be the key. Not only would such a tax put a price on carbon so that clean energy can effectively compete, but it would also generate significant revenues, a portion of which could be assigned or recycled right back to the energy companies in the form of transition subsidies that enable them to convert over to sustainable energy. A Smart Carbon Tax would be designed so that a significant portion of proceeds is earmarked for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource efficiency more broadly, green infrastructure, and so forth. The fossil-fuel companies, as well as others, would be eligible to participate in this revenue stream from the Smart Carbon Tax. These transition subsidies could include expanded investment tax credits, low-interest loans, price supports, and so forth – and should obviously replace current fossil-fuel subsidies. But for such a plan to work, the amount transferred would have to be meaningful and may have to approach or approximate the profits the energy companies forego by leaving the fossil fuels in the ground.

For a Smart Carbon Tax to work, we would have to abandon the notion advocated by some that to make the idea more fiscally palatable, a carbon tax should be revenue neutral. It shouldn’t be. Similarly, we should resist efforts to enlist carbon tax revenues to address a wish list of other social objectives. The revenues from carbon levies should be primarily directed at hastening the transition from carbon-based energy to clean energy, pure and simple. A Smart Carbon tax should be designed to accomplish precisely this.

Some will complain that the fossil-fuel industry has been subsidized for too long and will be skeptical of a plan that further bolsters the fortunes of the perceived bad guys. But not all the subsidies and incentives would go to fossil-fuel companies – many renewable energy developers, for example, may be in other sectors such as industrials or materials and are not, strictly speaking, energy companies. Some of the revenues would go to green infrastructure projects, and so forth. Moreover, the fossil-fuel companies were in the energy business long before we knew their products contributed to global warming. They didn’t set out to warm the planet. Plus, their behavior is probably rational from a short-term, profit-driven perspective. What we need to do is alter their behavior, which requires that we redraw markets in a way that allows long-term value to trump short-term profit. A Smart Carbon Tax may be the most effective way to accomplish this.

What we desperately need is a strategy to transform the energy companies of today into the energy companies of tomorrow. Although many of these companies are currently in the fossil-fuel business, that doesn’t mean they can’t switch over to the clean energy business. To the contrary, success in the fight against climate change requires that we help them do precisely that. This, in turn, will require a Smart Carbon Tax – smart for the planet, smart for investors and smart for industry – where the revenue generated by the tax is intelligently deployed to facilitate the transition to a sustainable energy economy.

With government on the sidelines, perhaps for the foreseeable future, a credible alliance between sustainable investors and the fossil fuel industry might step into the breach and help fashion climate change solutions. A Smart Carbon Tax may be just such a solution. It seems to me worth a try.

Article by Joe Keefe, President and CEO of Pax World Management LLC and Pax World Funds, which focus on sustainable investing – the full incorporation of environmental, social and governance factors into investment analysis and decision making. For more information go to-


Transforming Finance and The Regenerative Economy

By Hunter Lovins and John Fullerton for the Capital Institute



The global economy, which is driving humankind beyond the limits of the planetary boundaries, is itself driven by the theoretical construct and practice of global finance. A perpetually growing economy is at some point in conflict with a finite biosphere, and will impose profound implications for how we live our lives, and without a doubt for finance, as well. Just as we are in ecological overshoot, we are even more in financial overshoot. Finance in general and specifically the flow of real investment capital is one of the critical leverage points to shift to a Regenerative Economy that serves humanity and stewards the integrity of earth’s ecosystems.

The current speculative excess and ethical shortcomings of contemporary Wall Street, the problems of too-big-to-fail and, more importantly, other “in-system” failures have all given the economy and the current financial system a bad name. But the challenge goes beyond this. The financial system is designed to propel growth in the economic system with no regard for the physical boundaries of the planet and little regard for the social constraints of human wellbeing. Science tells us that this is fundamentally misaligned with the finite planetary boundaries of the biosphere. Notwithstanding all of its remarkable historical achievements, the global economy must now evolve not only to align itself with this scientific reality, but also to address such critical challenges as the grotesquely inequitable distribution of wealth, intractable poverty in much of the world, and chronic failure to deliver jobs or other means of achieving a livelihood with dignity. Meeting these challenges demands not merely problem solving, but systemic change to address root causes.

Climate change, ecosystem degradation, soil degradation and biodiversity loss are symptoms of an economic system that is beyond the limits. Finance and the money system it is built upon embody the exponential function. Compound financial returns, beginning with compound interest on an expanding monetary base, force the economy to continue growing at a systemic level. Since the economy is linked to material throughput, eventually this must create conflict with the boundaries of the biosphere.

The world has now arrived at that time.

The same planetary boundaries that constrain the economy with limits to material expansion also imply limits to investment since investment fuels growth. This is something no economic system in the history of civilization has ever before had to contemplate. How much and where large economic actors invest have critical implications for collective global security and, consequently, must become a central concern of global governance. This recognition is at the heart of new economic thinking.

The challenge facing the world is a question of story. Thomas Berry put it: “We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story….The Old Story – the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it …. sustained us for a long period of time. It shaped our emotional attitudes, provided us with a life purpose, energized action. It consecrated suffering, integrated knowledge, guided education….We need a [new] story that will educate man, heal him, guide him”

If it is true that the story precedes change, the real job of the Post 2015 Development Goals is to tell a new story that stitches together the challenges facing finance and the economy and the necessary changes in these in such a compelling way that it invites all the necessary stakeholders to participate in the transformation.

The opportunity facing us is to transition to a regenerative economic system. If we fail, the world will face successive collapses of both ecosystems and the economies and financial system that depend on ecosystem health.

Regenerative Capitalism

Capitalism, as now practiced, is the simplified world view in which entrepreneurs combine natural resources with labor and money, with the goal of optimizing financial returns to owners of capital so that the capitalists can become rich. That part works well. The mythic invisible hand is supposed to ensure the most efficient outcome for society. The financial system and economy are growing exponentially, but the invisible fingers seem not up to the task, and any belief that it ever could have been so was naive. Business as usual will drive us to successive ecological and economic collapses, impoverishing the earth’s life support systems and the majority of its people in the process.

Natural systems are sustainable because they are regenerative. Regeneration is the “continuous process of becoming” necessary to sustain life in the natural world. As the world shifts from the ten thousand year old and stable Holocene to the human controlled and volatile Anthropocene, it is our evolutionary destiny and the creative challenge of our age to usher in the Era of Regenerative Capitalism, bringing the human economy into holistic balance with nature, and harmony with the core beliefs of our many wisdom traditions that have stood the test of time.

Regenerative Capitalism will be characterized by an expansion of the meaning of “capital” to include multiple forms of capital, and the vital patterns of their interdependencies, in keeping with a holistic understanding of true wealth. It will also entail a recognition that the regenerative process that defines thriving, living systems, enabling many of them to be sustainable over the long run, must define the economic system itself.

A Regenerative Economy is characterized by eight principles:

1.  Right Relationship: It holds the continuation of life sacred and recognizes that the human economy is embedded in human culture and the biosphere.

2.  Entrepreneurialism: A Regenerative Economy draws on the innate ability of human beings to innovate and “create anew” across all sectors of society.

3.  Wealth Viewed Holistically: True wealth is defined in terms of the well-being of the “whole,” achieved through the enhancement of the multiple forms of capital.

4.  Shared Prosperity: Wealth is equitably (although not necessarily equally) distributed in the context of an expanded view of true wealth.

5.  Real Economy Circularity: The economy strives continually to minimize energy, material, and resource throughput radically at all phases of the production cycle, that products are remanufactured, recycled and composted, with natural outputs are safely returning to the biological world and that minerals and human made substances returning to the industrial cycle.

6.  “Edge Effect” Abundance: Creative collaborations increase the possibility of value-adding wealth creation through relationship, exchanges, and resiliency.

7.  Resiliency: The whole system develops the long run ability to adapt and learn from shocks; adaptability to change is valued over current brittle concentrations of power and hyper-efficiency.

8.  Honors Place: A Regenerative Economy operates to nurture healthy, stable communities and regions, both real and virtual, in a connected mosaic of place-centered economies.

Early green shoots of Regenerative Capitalism are already manifesting in a multitude of scalable projects, and enterprises on the ground. These include agriculture that replenishes soil fertility, the sharing economy, collaborative ownership structures, economic democracy, investments in renewable energy and resilient communities and much more. Such investments deliver 10 times the number of jobs as money spent on the old economy. The task before countries, corporations and communities now is to suffuse Regenerative Capitalism into large global enterprises and to the large State actors in the economic system.

Regenerative Finance

The emergence of Regenerative Capitalism, particularly within a mainstream economy dominated by large-scale enterprises and state actors, is dependent upon a fundamental transformation of finance. Merely optimizing single variables such as the ill-conceived shareholder value maximization are insufficient in the era of Regenerative Capitalism. The well-meaning and ongoing financial reform agenda was conceived in the context of the old, degenerative world-view. Success cannot be defined as putting us back on the path of exponential expansion, which brings on ecological collapse. We must reconceive finance in service of a regenerative economic system.

Finance’s primary function is to transform savings into productive investment, and drive the credit-creation process. The flow of credit and investment into the real economy is the bridge to, and the steering mechanism for, the Great Transition to a Regenerative Economy.

The Elements of Regenerative Finance include:

1.  Means not Ends: finance is a means to a healthy economy, not the “purpose” of economic activity.

2.  Ethical and In Service: Finance should be an ethical profession, grounded in a culture of service to clients and service to the emergence of a Regenerative Economy.

3.  The Supremacy of Relationship: It should value relationships over transactions.

4.  Transparency: Financial institutions should value transparency over complexity, while embracing genuine value-adding innovation.

5.  True Wealth: Regenerative Finance generates long-term wealth creation, harmonizing multiple forms of capital in right relationship, using a fair financial return as a constraint for investment decisions.

6.  Right Scale: To be sustainable, finance must be appropriately scaled as a system embedded in the economy, which in turn is embedded in culture and the biosphere.

7.  Collaborative: Values-aligned investors, financial institutions, and enterprises from multiple sectors will behave collaboratively, mimicking nature’s “edge effect.”

8.  Resilient: Regenerative Finance balances efficiency with structural resiliency at the system level through decentralization, diversity, and buffers within institutions and even within the money system itself.

The transition away from a collapse-prone financial system and economy, both of which are driving ecological collapse will not be quick or easy. It will require new energy for fundamental systemic reform to create the conditions for finance to serve the Regenerative Economy. Such reforms are complex and beyond the scope of this paper, but would include:

Regain our will for sovereignty over domestic financial systems. Globalization has gone too far and encourages a negotiated race to the bottom.

Separation of insured deposit taking banks with access to central bank liquidity from speculative activities of securities firms. The universal bank model unnecessarily pits shareholder interests against societal interests and should not be tolerated.

Onerous capital and tax regimes should dis-incentivize leverage, scale and complexity making it unprofitable to be too big, too leveraged, and too complex. Such regimes must trigger a restructuring of the current system or they’re inadequate.

Eliminate the subsidy to debt since leverage reduces systemic resiliency across the economy and facilitates dangerous speculation.

Revoke the public charter of banks and securities firms who have breached their duty of trust to society. Private partnerships are the proven and most effective tool to regulate behavior in the securities industry.

Implement a global financial transaction tax

Modify capital gains tax so that investors are encouraged to put money into the things we need on timescales that matter.

Once the system has been shrunk, simplified, de-levered and made more resilient in the process, the foundation will be laid for Regenerative Finance to emerge. Indeed it is already happening under the radar as evidenced by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, the emergence of impact investing and efforts to integrate environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors into investment decision-making. The traditional role of community banks, the well established co-operative financial institutions and the Community Development Financial Institutions are also parts of a foundation. The complementary currencies taking root around the world in response to the economic collapse are providing much needed resiliency to fragile economies.

There are well functioning, purpose driven, public banks. Their prudent and responsible role in the economic system should now be recognized after the repeated failure of the so-called private sector banks which are really only private when times are good. The United States, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and of course Russia and China are just some of the nations that have a variety of state owned banks that behave not merely as a business that needs to be regulated but in service with a unique public purpose. With informed public leadership, these public institutions, and essential new public infrastructure banks can become the foundation for financing the transition to a Regenerative Economy.

The financial community argues that any regulation inhibits market efficiency. Until 2008 this prized characteristic was believed to be self-regulating. But in 2012, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted, “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms…I was shocked.”

The rest of the world was devastated. An April 2013 Financial Times article observed that bankers were flying blind, quoting a former European Central Banker who stated, “We don’t fully understand what is happening in advanced economies.” Economics is all about efficiency, but the current system pursued the idea of efficiency to the exclusion of system resilience. Like unfettered globalization, securitization and derivatives all increase efficiency, but at a cost. Important inventions with many productive applications, they are misused, now, as highly leveraged speculative instruments reducing system resilience, which becomes apparent in times of crisis.

There are three core elements to achieving a sustainable economy on a planet that is not expanding–what has been called a dynamic steady state economy. First, we need quantum leaps in material throughput efficiency, beginning with energy productivity. This will help get us back toward balance and buy time. Second, we need to shift our goal to well-being and limit aggregate material consumption while providing room for those living below acceptable material living standards to get their fair share. And third–and this is new–since there are indeed limits to growth, and since investment drives growth, somehow we must control both the quality and aggregate quantity of real investment in the global economy. This is heresy in classic economics and in a Wall Street world in which more investment is always thought of as a good thing. But it is essential if we are to begin dialing down the throughput of natural resources that is eroding ecosystem health and the ecosystem services we depend upon to live. Arithmetic tells us we will never achieve a steady state if financial capital compounds indefinitely and is reinvested in more growth rather than in ways that enhance social and natural capital. We simply have too much money (inequitably distributed) and not enough planet.

The Regenerative Economy is about seeing the world in a different way

We can do this. What we read about in the New York Times Business Section and in the Wall Street Journal is focused on perhaps 20%, maybe 30%, of total global economy. Only about 30% of people in the world now eat food from industrialized agriculture. Even after decades of globalization, only 20% of India is directly connected to the global economy. Less than a billion people work in the degenerative economy–maybe as few as a half billion. If the developing world and emerging local and regional economies in the first world were to recognize their common interest in transforming the way the world works, it could be the basis for a bottoms up strategy to create the new reality. If you count the value of the gift economy, the value of natural ecosystem services, the problem part of the economy is really just a small part of the total system. And great strides are being made in the numerous place-based economies the world over that are on a path to a Regenerative Economy.

In looking at the increasing concentration of power in the world’s largest public corporations, Harvard Professor Robert Eccles estimates that the 1,000 biggest corporations represent half of the market capitalization of the $60 trillion market capitalization of the 60,000 public companies in world. Directly and through their influence, they “virtually control” the now degenerative mainstream global economy, yet provide direct employment to less than one percent of the global population. It is not an exaggeration to say that one thousand CEOs and perhaps twenty heads of state hold the future of civilization in their hands, most importantly through the long term investment decisions they make and the public policy influence they choose to exercise.

Our challenge is to enable 1,020 people, mostly men, to think differently.

Let’s shine a light on what IS working, improve it qualitatively, and at the same time, crimp what is horribly wrong–investment in expanding our fossil fuel based energy system when we can’t afford to burn what we’ve got, and destabilizing excessive speculation in capital markets that has no value to society and detrimental costs to the world. The Energy Information Agency estimates that $17 trillion is needed in renewable energy and sustainable transmission infrastructure to meet climate challenge. Booz Allen says that $22 trillion is needed in water investments to meet world’s water needs in next 20 years. A shift in the flow of capital on such an unprecedented scale demands the leadership of one thousand and twenty people. As a practical matter, we need leadership from the United States and China. Civil society must demand it without delay.

This time is different. Our well-intentioned financial system regulators are no doubt overwhelmed responding to yesterday’s recklessly induced financial crisis. They are doing it under suboptimal political conditions, all while the plane needs to keep flying (since we are presently dependent upon the too-big-to-fail banks to keep the economy flowing.

Financial system leaders and regulators must, however, also look forward to the perils ahead. Grasping the unprecedented challenges of financial overshoot is imperative if we are to manage the stormy times ahead. There is now an overwhelming public and global security interest in how investment capital flows, with profound governance and ethical implications the world has never had to consider.

The Post 2015 Goals process has the opportunity to guide humanity as it evolves beyond the outdated mechanistic worldview of the Holocene and the no longer possible paradigm of exponential growth that has defined contemporary economics and finance, to a regenerative paradigm grounded in the holistic ecological or living systems worldview of contemporary science. If humanity fails to see the global economy as a complex adaptive natural system, and manage accordingly, we’ll end up in a bad place.

No one knows how this transformation will work out. However, as the challenges of climate change, loss of species, resource constraints and breakdown of social order become more severe, what now seems impossible will suddenly become inevitable. The Regenerative Economy is an emergent idea. It’s never been done. But it is the story that now is needed to save the world.

Source: The Capital Institute –


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