Following the successful launch of its low carbon equity index family, Solactive AG in collaboration with South Pole Group sets the bar for fixed income low-carbon index solutions with its new Solactive SPG Euro IG Low Carbon Bond Index. The index will cover investment grade corporate bonds denominated in EUR while selecting companies that are less dependent on fossil fuels relative to higher carbon-emitting peers.
In line with the ambition shown at the recent Paris Climate Conference, many of the world leading economies have already imposed taxes or partial taxes on carbon (e.g. US, China, UK, Sweden) or implemented regulatory standards to lower emissions (e.g. Emission Trading Scheme in the EU). France is the first country to have introduced a carbon reporting obligation on financial institutions. Growing global concern about climate change has also encouraged the adaptation of climate themed investment strategies and prompted the inception of investor coalitions committed to reduce their portfolio exposure to greenhouse gas emissions. However, the mainstreaming of low carbon in finance has been limited to the equity side so far.
With a large proportion of global assets dedicated to fixed income debt, tapping into debt markets is essential to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon economy and ultimately attain the “two-degree target”. Institutional investors have lacked investment-grade opportunities to invest in bonds where revenues are specifically allocated to climate change solutions in the past.
The Solactive SPG Euro IG Low Carbon Bond Index will attend to the needs of all risk-sensitive fixed income investors that seek to reduce the carbon footprint of their investment portfolio and mitigate climate change related investment risk. For the creation of the index, Solactive has extended its successful partnership with South Pole Group, the world’s leading provider of sustainability and climate finance solutions, and build on its past expertise in the development of climate-themed bond indices (Solactive green bond indices).
Dr. Maximilian Horster, Partner, Financial Industry, South Pole Group explains: “Until recently, transferring the logic of low carbon investments from equity to fixed income has been a challenge. We are excited that our innovative methodologies and unmatched climate change data capabilities now enable easy and effective climate friendly fixed income investments.”
Steffen Scheuble, CEO, Solactive AG says: “Solactive will make a vital contribution to the integration of climate change and mitigation efforts in fixed income investments as it will be providing the first diversified investment grade universe of bonds dedicated to finance low carbon companies.“
The basis of the Solactive SPG Euro IG Low Carbon Bond Index is the Solactive Euro IG Corporate Index, including fixed rate bonds with an amount outstanding of at least 500 million EUR and a remaining time to maturity of at least 24 months. Companies that do not report their carbon emissions are excluded from the selection pool since non-reporting companies are likely to have higher carbon emissions and no carbon reduction strategies in place. Finally, companies are selected if their carbon footprint scaled by revenues as determined by the methodology of South Pole Group lies below the median carbon score in their economic sector.
Index components are weighted by market value.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.