Funds Without Ethical Lens Risk Being Left On Shelf

As ethical investment continues to enter the mainstream, super funds and managers that do not incorporate ethics into their decision-making risk being left behind, Banking and Finance Oath founding director Clare Payne has warned.

Speaking at the Portfolio Construction Forum Strategies Conference 2017 in Sydney on Thursday, August 24, Payne observed there has been a shift in the way people think about businesses and their purpose. Businesses that lack moral and ethical awareness are now viewed unfavourably.

Payne attributed this shift to three main factors: the public’s concern about the future of the planet, the need to hold the business community responsible for causing some of those concerns, and the public having better access to information that enables people to make good ethical decisions.

An expanding market

“There is a growing movement around calling things out and saying what is a legitimate way of making money and what’s not,” Payne said.

Currently, $622 billion is invested via “responsible investment” strategies in Australia and it is predicted that, in the next three to five years, the ethical investment sector will add an extra $50 billion and about 700,000 new investors, Payne said.

The potential for getting into this lucrative market depends solely on asset owners and portfolio managers “prioritising ethics”, Payne said.

“We have, as humans, what I’d like to call ‘unreliable gut, reliable bias’. We can’t presume we know what everyone is thinking or cares about. We have to find out, and we also have to get awareness of our own position.”

She argued that for investment managers to improve their ethical awareness, they need to outline the purpose of their business and be prepared for clients to hold different views. It is key to understand the values that matter most to clients, be it gender equality, diversity, innovation or sustainability. It is also important for managers to define their position and their clients’ positions on big issues such as wealth inequality and climate change.

She also advised money managers to keep abreast of ethical trends that could affect their future investment decisions. For example, a growing number of super funds have divested from tobacco products, and it is important to know what other industries the public considers undesirable for investment, she said. (Payne is also the chief operating officer of Tobacco Free Portfolios, a group that agitates for major institutional investors to divest from tobacco products.)

Women’s increasing wealth

Another factor that it’s important for funds and managers to recognise is the increase in women’s wealth, because women, who are expected to control $72.1 trillion globally by 2020, are twice as likely as men to invest ethically, Payne said.

“Currently, our financial system is oriented towards men and the majority of clients have been men in the past, but they won’t be in the future,” she said.

Another trend Payne said presents an opportunity for portfolio managers is the “rise of the individual”, meaning people are more likely to trust an individual than the company for which they work.

“It’s a time to reveal your own ethics and to understand other people’s ethics,” she said.

 Payne encouraged money managers to take three steps to make ethics part of their portfolios: become a signatory to the Banking and Finance Oath, remove all tobacco products from portfolios and “look at the news with an ethical lens” to become actively aware of how ethical issues are likely to affect the businesses in which they invest.

Source: Professional Planner

Victoria Continues Renewables Leadership With VRET Legislation

Victoria has again thumbed its nose at federal energy policy dithering, announcing it will enshrine its Victorian Renewable Energy Target into law and hold reverse auctions for 650 megawatts of renewable projects.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the VRET legislation would set targets of 25 per cent renewable energy by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.

Mr Andrews also announced the state’s first competitive renewable energy reverse auction for up to 650MW of renewable energy capacity – enough to power 389,000 households, or all homes in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley combined.

It is expected to result in $1.3 billion in investment and create 1250 jobs during construction and 90 ongoing jobs during the operational phase.

The successful tenderers for two major solar farms that will supply the Melbourne tram network were also announced.

Syncline’s Bannerton Solar Park near Robinvale will expand to 100MW, and French company Neoen’s Numurkah Solar Farm near Shepparton is expected to add 38MW on completion. It is estimated the two projects will result in additional investment inflows of $198 million and create 325 jobs during construction.

Mr Andrews said the VRET was expected to cut average household power bills by about $30 a year, save medium-sized businesses $2500 a year and large companies about $140,000.

It will also reduce Victoria’s energy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 16 per cent by 2034-35.

“The renewable energy sector will now have the confidence to invest in renewable energy projects and the jobs that are crucial to Victoria’s future,” minister for energy, environment and climate change Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“Government investment will be capped to ensure the best value for money for Victorian taxpayers.”


Source: The Fifth Estate

Rise of Electric Cars Has Us Speeding To The End of Internal Combustion Engine

Of the 1,145,024 new cars sold in Australia last year, a mere 219 were electric and 12,625 hybrid. Yet all cars sold in Australia are likely to be purely electric far sooner than such starkly contrasting numbers might suggest. The issue is not whether the internal combustion engine, one of the most transformative technologies in history, is set for extinction, but how fast and how well the transition to electricity happens.

The Australian government is looking far from agile so far in this global public policy conundrum. It is crucial businesses be given certainty so that they can have the confidence to make the necessary investments in design and in the national installation of recharging infrastructure. Failure by the Coalition government to provide such certainty through policy stability has been the biggest brake on investment in the renewable energy that, combined with electric cars, will be fundamental to the commitment Australia  has made internally and internationally to reduce carbon emissions.

%environmental recruitment%talent nation

                                 Electric Car Charger by Kārlis Dambrāns

The government might do well to plug into policies driving the demise of the fossil-fuelled car, for they are being welcomed by manufacturers, designers and software engineers the world over. Key among such strategies is committing to a date after which all cars sold must be electric. France and Britain, for example, have nominated 2040. Other incentives to smooth the transition might include bonus payments or exemption from luxury taxes. Such incentives have been introduced in all the nations of Western Europe.

Rapid advances in battery technology and falls in the price of electric cars and of renewable energy are speeding the end of the internal combustion engine’s era.

The environmental, economic and health rewards of this inevitable change are massive and evident. There might well also be profound social benefits. The switch is coinciding with the popular embrace of ride-sharing and the imminent advent of self-driving cars. Currently, most cars spend 95 per cent of the time parked, and most commuters are alone in their vehicles. It is not hard to envisage freeways that actually flow with cars with multiple passengers.

There are about 1 billion cars in the world, of which 2 million are electric. More than a third of those electric cars were sold in 2016. The rate of growth of such cars is poised to accelerate sharply.

Smart phones have been around for only a decade but are ubiquitous and have revolutionised the way people live. The change to electric cars is likely to be similarly momentous and rapidly integrated into our routines.


Source: The Age

Solar Thermal Power Plant Supporters and Locals Welcome Greenlighting of Port Augusta Project

The Port Augusta community and its clean energy supporters have welcomed the news that the world’s largest solar thermal power station will be built in the region.

It was announced yesterday that US operator Solar Reserve would build the 150 megawatt power station known as the Aurora Solar Energy Project at Carriewerloo Station, about 330 kilometres north of Adelaide.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the project would be on-line in 2020 and would supply 100 per cent of the State Government’s needs. The land is owned by the State Government but Scott Michael and his family have the pastoral lease on it. Solar Reserve will, in turn, lease the land from them.

Mr Michael said he missed the initial announcement that the project was going ahead.

“My phone was flat [Monday] and I had a fairly sort of busy afternoon. I got a phone call from Solar Reserve about 7:00pm,” he said.

“Before that I had seen it over the news and Facebook, but having a flat phone and a few jobs I hadn’t had a chance to sit down and acknowledge it.”

He said he had been talking to Solar Reserve for two years about the project and the company has had solar measuring equipment on the property since December.

Mr Michael said it would not interrupt the property’s current business of running sheep and cattle.

He said there are lots of renewable projects proposed for the region.


Source: ABC News

$1.76M Offered To Increase Energy Efficiency

On Friday, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, announced the funding for owners and tenants to make their commercial buildings more energy efficient.

Applications are now open from building owners, agents, tenants and facilities managers for the first round of the Better Commercial Buildings initiative.

A grant could improve a building’s rating under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) by 1 star, on average, and reduce energy bills.

NABERS data shows that there is huge opportunity to improve the performance of Victoria’s commercial building sector and help significantly reduce emissions.

The grants will help participants identify and implement improvements, measure their success and facilitate access to further finance options and pre-approved service providers – taking the guess work out of choosing a supplier.

“This is a great opportunity for owners to boost the value of their building by increasing its NABERS rating,” D’Ambrosio said.

“Reducing energy costs saves money, improves productivity, and increases the health and wellbeing of workers and the environment.”


Source: Inside Waste