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Hermes: Carbon risk should be at the heart of investment strategy

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Hermes Investment Management, the £29.5 billion asset manager, has today published a report, Turning Down the Heat which focuses on the risks carbon poses to investment portfolios and outlines the four pillars of Hermes’ strategy to mitigate this risk.

Saker Nusseibeh (pictured), Chief Executive, Hermes Investment Management, said: “It is crucial that we create the right outcomes from our investment decisions – and the right outcomes on a 30-year time horizon are those that mitigate risk, including carbon risk. In just 20 years, if circumstances don’t change, we will already be approaching dangerous levels of warming. Reducing risk ensures better returns for our beneficiaries by minimizing potential expenditure incurred by negative factors later on. We also have a better chance of leaving to our children and our grandchildren a world they can live in.”

Awareness of carbon risk exposure in investment portfolios

The first step is to identify the risks, which is much easier than it used to be because the quality and quantity of data available has increased dramatically in recent years. As you do not manage what you don’t measure, the starting point has to be to assess your exposure to carbon intensive sectors and GHG emissions.

Integrating carbon risk in investment decisions.

When Hermes developed their carbon risk approach they realised that their portfolio managers already consider carbon risk through their wider awareness of risks and opportunities. Often, this approach is more implicit than explicit with managers citing factors related to carbon risk, such as tightening regulation, consumer expectations and political risk, as some of the reasons to avoid certain carbon-intensive sectors or companies in particular regions.

Managing and engaging to reduce carbon risk

Hermes prefer to manage carbon risk by using the power of direct management and engagement. In equities, environmental regulations indirectly affect the value of investments in many industries in ways that are hard to anticipate. In real estate, regulation affects investors more directly because they own and directly manage the assets. Moreover, occupiers are looking to occupy buildings with good energy efficiency credentials as part of their own sustainability policies. Finally Hermes have seen growing interest from asset owners and a clear desire to see Hermes are managing the risks around climate change.

For these reasons, Hermes integrate carbon and wider ESG-related risks across our real estate investments. The benefits of doing so include the added value that more sustainable properties deliver because these are the properties that tenants want. Hermes set, systematically monitor and report on carbon targets and performance in a programme of active management that has delivered continuous emission reductions and delivered value for occupiers. Since 2006 Hermes have overseen an average reduction in GHG emissions of 60% across a portfolio of 18 properties through a combination of refurbishment, active management and engaging with occupiers.

When talking to companies, the first step is to establish what you want to achieve through your engagement. It is about maximising the value of each individual investment in order to provide the best circumstances for long-term returns.

Advocating to promote market transformation

Nusseibeh continued: “We believe in advocacy and sharing best practice with fellow investors or other key stakeholders. As such, over the years, we have been actively engaged in sector organisations such as the PRI and UNEP-FI promoting a better understanding of responsible investment and how to integrate ESG into investment management.”

Engagement has focused on helping to shape capital markets for the benefit of all stakeholders. To enable Hermes to better manage carbon, water and pollution risk they engage with public policymakers to encourage transparent disclosure of resource use and carbon emissions, best practice approaches and methodologies as well as carbon-pricing mechanisms.

If the asset management industry is to integrate factors that cover a time period of 20-30 years into the investment decision-making processes, collaboration with peers, policy makers and sector organisations is critical. Where new challenges arise, Hermes believe in advocacy and sharing best practice with fellow investors or other key stakeholders.

Nusseibeh concluded: “There is an odd but prevalent view that the investment community sits somehow outside of what it invests in. But we are indigenous to the system. We do not merely observe from afar. Our actions, our beliefs and our investment decisions shape the system. There is still a long way for us to go in recognising that the economic system is not separate from society.

“Carbon risk cannot and should not be ignored. It is time that we in the investment industry help to address it.”

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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