Green Companies Outperform Dirty Energy Companies
As You Sow and Corporate Knights released the inaugural version of the Carbon Clean 200TM (Clean200TM), a list of 200 clean energy companies with a simulated annualized return of 21.82% over the past decade.
The list will be updated quarterly to serve as the inverse of the Carbon Underground 200TM, a list of
fossil fuel companies being targeted for divestment, which generated a 7.84% annualized return over
the same time period.
“The Clean200 nearly tripled the performance of its fossil fuel reserve-heavy counterpart over the past
ten years, showing that clean energy companies are providing concrete and measurable rewards to
investors,” said Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights and report co-author. “What’s more, the
outstanding performance of this list shows that the notion that investors must sacrifice returns when
investing in clean energy is outdated. Many clean energy investments are profitable now, and we
anticipate that over the long-term their appeal will only go up as technologies improve and more
investors move away from underperforming fossil fuel companies.”
The 21.82% return was due in large part to significant exposure to Chinese clean energy companies
which have experienced explosive growth. The returns of the Clean200 ex-China were lower, but still
superior to the S&P 1200 global benchmark and Carbon Underground 200.
The Clean200 ranks the largest publicly listed companies worldwide by their total clean energy revenues
as rated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). In order to be eligible, a company must have a
market capitalization greater than $1 billion (end of Q2 2016) and earn more than 10% of total revenues
from clean energy sources. Over 70 of the companies on the list receive a majority of their revenue from
clean energy. The list excludes all oil and gas companies and utilities that generate less than 50% of their
power from renewable sources, as well as the top 100 coal companies measured by reserves. The list
also filters out companies profiting from weapons manufacturing, tropical deforestation, the use of child
and/or forced labor, and companies that engage in negative climate lobbying.
Our intention with The Clean200 is to begin a conversation that defines what companies will be
part of the clean energy future.
“Our intention with The Clean200 is to begin a conversation that defines what companies will be
part of the clean energy future,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow and the report’s co-author.
“The Clean200 turns the ‘carbon bubble’ inside out. The list is far from perfect, but begins to show
how it’s possible to accelerate and capitalize on the greatest energy transition since the industrial
The performance analysis for each of the three lists is based on a ‘snapshot in time’ analysis of current
constituents as the BNEF clean energy revenue exposure database is new and does not go back in time.
The analysis also introduces a survivorship bias that can be present when stocks which do not currently
exist (because they have failed, for example) are excluded from the historical analysis. This bias can
result in the overestimation of past returns.
The methodology and list used to develop the Clean200 are in the creative commons and can be
downloaded at www.clean200.org
The top 10 Clean200 companies with a majority of their revenue from clean energy include Vestas (wind
power), Philips Lighting (LED lighting), Xinjiang Gold-A (wind plants), Tesla Motors (electric vehicles),
Gamesa (wind turbines), First Solar (solar modules), GCL-Poly Energy (solar grade polysilicon), China
Longyuan-H (wind Farms), Kingspan Group (Insulation and building envelopes), and Acuity Brands (LED
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility
through shareholder advocacy and coalition building. www.asyousow.org.
Corporate Knights seeks to provide information that empowers people to harness markets for a better
** As You Sow and Corporate Knights are not investment advisors nor do we provide
financial planning, legal or tax advice. Nothing in the Carbon Clean 200 Report shall
constitute or be construed as an offering of financial instruments or as investment
advice or investment recommendations.**
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