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AXA IM launches AXA WF Planet Bonds to help clients invest in the transition to a low carbon economy



With just 21 days until the start of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) today announces the launch of the AXA WF Planet Bonds fund, an innovative green bonds fund that aims to support clients’ transition to a low carbon economy by providing investors with access to the growing global green bonds market.

Commenting on the launch, Andrea Rossi, CEO of AXA Investment Managers, said: “AXA IM has been a pioneer of responsible investing for almost 20 years. Meeting our clients’ needs requires continued efforts to understand and anticipate changing factors that impact financial markets as well as the objectives of our clients.  This includes climate change.

“As long term investors we recognise the threat of climate change and the need to mitigate the potential impact on the global economy. Global companies, as influential stakeholders, have a key role to play, being international corporate citizens.  Climate change is just one of the criteria by which we monitor and, if needed, engage with companies. We are also able to support clients’ transition to a low carbon economy, for example, through offering investment in green bonds.  We also help our clients screen and score based on ESG criteria including carbon.

“We believe that being a responsible asset manager is fundamental for sustainable, long term investment success. As an official COP 21 sponsor, the AXA Group has made strong commitments to help mitigate climate change, for instance by tripling its green investments by 2020. AXA IM is fully supportive of these initiatives and is working closely with the AXA Group to achieve these goals.”

The AXA WF Planet Bonds fund invests in both pure green bonds and bond issuers with a high environmental impact with the aim of ensuring sufficient diversification and liquidity. It is run by AXA IM’s Global Rates team in collaboration with the Responsible Investment (RI) team.

Olivier Vietti, Lead Fund Manager of the AXA WF Planet Bonds fund, commented: “We are excited to help clients access the growing opportunity in the green bonds market. We feel the bond market is a natural vehicle to support energy efficiency, renewable energy and other projects related to climate change, as bonds can provide a direct and transparent way for investors to invest in low carbon solutions.

“This fund aims to offer an attractive yield meaning responsible investors do not have to ‘give up’ yield, relative to the wider fixed income universe, when investing to make a positive environmental impact.”

A key attribute of the Fund is its highly robust investment selection process, which is also flexible and unconstrained from a benchmark to avoid any bias from following an index. In the selection process issuers in the eligible investment universe are ranked according to AXA IM’s internal ESG (environment, social and governance) assessment process to determine which issuers have high environmental conviction and therefore present a solid case for green investment. The Fund aims to be well diversified and offer an attractive yield and risk vs return profile by focusing on yield enhancement and investing in investment grade and high yield issuers.

Matt Christensen, Head of Responsible Investment at AXA IM, commented: “AXA IM has many years of experience in responsible investment and today’s launch once again highlights our commitment to green initiatives. We have created a fund for investors to have an alternative to conventional investing that offers the opportunity to make specific environmental investments as climate change becomes a major issue for all of us.

“Additionally, this solution also offers the possibility for investors to be aware of the type of projects that will be financed through their investment, including wind farms, green commercial buildings, public transport solutions and waste water systems.”

Jerome Broustra, Head of Global Rates at AXA IM, added: “AXA IM has been active in the green bonds sector since 2012 and we have already invested EUR 1 billion globally in this market segment. Despite its massive growth over the last year, this market is still relatively small and we want to support its development by using our extensive experience in both fixed income and responsible investment to allow investors to capture the current opportunities in green bonds while at the same time supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.”

AXA IM has been committed to responsible investment since 1997 when the company first won a RI specific mandate. In 2001, the firm set up a dedicated RI business unit and in 2006 a global RI team was established. The strategy for including RI principles as part of a wider range of investment strategies at AXA IM was formalised in 2010 leading to comprehensive ESG integration and large dedicated mandates in this area by 2014.

AXA IM Fixed Income offers a wealth of experience built over various market cycles, with EUR 460 billion of fixed income assets under management. The Fund will draw on AXA IM’s global fixed income process and harness the dedicated investment team of six portfolio managers and RI analysts based in Paris, which is itself supported by fundamental credit researchers, portfolio engineers, economists and strategists, traders and a wider team of 12 RI analysts.

The AXA WF Planet Bonds fund is a Luxembourg-domiciled SICAV. The Fund has both retail and institutional share classes and is registered for distribution in France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK .


Environmentally Sustainable Furniture for Dummies



eco-friendly sustainable furniture choices
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We probably don’t think a great deal about our furniture choices. I know that I tend to just buy whatever looks pretty, seems functional and fits my budget. That usually means a trip to a few showrooms and big warehouse stores, like Ikea.

But we have a responsibility to the planet. We can do better. There are three major ways that our furniture can help the environment:

  1. Purchase used and/or recycled furniture and extends the lifecycle of precious materials.
  2. Source furniture that is free of environmentally unsustainable products.
  3. Choose furniture that doesn’t require electricity – opting for manual transitioning.

By investing in environmentally sustainable, high-qualify furniture, you’ll be able to pass down items from generation to generation. This will save your heirs on the cost of furnishing their own home, and help to protect the environment from wasteful fad furniture that only lasts a season or two.

Natural and Recycled Furniture Materials

If you absolutely love the look of wood furniture, search for environmentally sustainable products. For example, locally sourced wood or bamboo can easily be replenished without requiring excessive international harvesting of precious woods that harm the environment.

Sustainable wood products are only sourced from companies and locations that have the ability to quickly replace harvested wood – providing a responsible resource for generations of manufacturers and consumers.

Recycled furniture can either be a gently used item from someone else’s home, or a new piece of furniture that’s been used from reclaimed sources. You’ve probably seen examples of this at your local park – cities are increasingly using recycled materials to create benches and picnic tables.

But recycled materials don’t have to feel rough or rustic. Items made from recycled wood are readily available for order online or in-store. And believe it or not, electronic waste can be reclaimed and crafted into beautiful pieces of modern furniture.

The only limitation on recycled furniture design is the imagination of the creator. If you want to do it yourself, check out this DIY recycled furniture pinterest board!

Avoid Harsh Chemicals that Harm the Environment

Did you know that many cushions are made of highly-flammable polyurethane? Furniture manufacturers help keep our butts out of the hot seat by treating the materials in cushions with fire-retardant toxins. Unfortunately this padding breaks down overtime and the dust is both toxic to humans and the environment.

There are multiple lines of eco-friendly furniture that avoid the use of flammable polyurethane – often substituting with organic cotton. Just understand that you’re going to be in for a bit of sticker shock – eco-friendly furniture, when purchased new from major brands, gets pricey.

If you can’t afford the pricetag, I recommend finding used furniture from the same product line. There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping eco-friendly consumers find used organic, responsibly sourced products – and that includes furniture.

You’ll also want to stay away from faux leather. Furniture made from pleather and other leather substitutes are heavily treated with chemicals. That’s never a win.

Hypo-allergenic stuffing, combine with traditional leather might be a decent compromise if you have to have the leather look to tie a room together. But be conscious of the fact that tanning is not an environmentally friendly process, so try to limit these materials in your design.

In conclusion, it’s up to you how crazy you want to go. I think that as long as you stay with used furniture, you’re on the right track – even if it isn’t environmentally perfect, it’s at least a sunk cost for the environment – the damage has been done and you’re extending its useful life. But I think the most important takeaway here is buy quality items that you can pass down to your next generation – if that means spending more on higher quality new items that are sustainably sourced, so be it.

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Livery Services: Mother Nature Needs You to Invest in an Eco-Friendly Fleet



green fleets
Shutterstock Photos - By tostphoto |

In the United Kingdom, fleet vehicles make up most of the traffic traveling our roadways. If there’s one area of the transportation sector environmentalists should be focusing on, it’s the way we move goods, services and people around the empire.

Businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles need to realize the environmental impact of their service, and the opportunities available to help them lower their operating costs, while saving mother nature.

A green fleet is much cheaper to operate – both because of lower petrol consumption and government grants and tax benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at the things your company is unnecessarily spending money on every year due to an old, dirty fleet of polluters.

Vehicle Taxes on Polluters vs. Environmentally Friendly Fleets

If you want to operate your commercial van on public roads, you’re going to have to pay a VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty. The total fee assessed for this is based on the age of your vehicle, not how much you drive it. This is important, because an idle fleet of polluters can be just as costly as a fleet of green vehicles that produce value for your company.

Vans that were built after 1 March 2001 were taxed either £132 every six months, or £240 annually. This rate is effective per the TC39 VED tax code. There are exceptions to this rate.

For example, if your van is classified as a Euro 4 van, and was manufactured between 1 March 2003 and 31 December 2006, TC36 VED tax code applies to you. The six-month rate is £77, or £140 annually.

For older vans, manufactured prior to 1 March 2001, your tax rate is based on the size of the engine. Vans with engines less than 1549cc are charged £82.50 every six months, or £150 annually. Old vans with larger engines must pay £134.75 every six months, or £245 annually.

Euro 4 vans are the cheapest to operate from a tax perspective. Why? Because they were fitted with specialized filters that help to reduce the amount of dangerous pollutants that make it into earth’s atmosphere. You enjoy the tax savings year-after-year by operating these vehicles.

It really is economically more affordable to operate a green fleet.

Petrol Costs – Another Reason to Think Green to Save Green

The cost of petrol is heavily impacted by our environment. When Britain is thrashed by stormy weather due to global warming, or oil production is impacted by environmental disasters, the cost of filling up skyrockets.

At the time of this writing, petrol is £1.16 per liter, and diesel is £1.18 per liter. There are forecasts from reliable agencies that see the price continuing to rise in the near future, passing price points not seen since 2014.

Regardless of the speculative nature of future fuel prices, the fact remains that vehicles that use less fuel save their operators money every time the wheels turn.

As an alternative, many companies are heavily investigating and testing all-electric and hybrid alternatives for a greener, more economical fleet. As an example, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular all-electric vehicles – and it’s a fantastic choice for transporting people or smaller cargo payloads to residential destinations.  The total cost to charge a Nissan Leaf, using current electrical vehicle charging technology, is just £3.64 to go from empty to full charge.

That’s a HUGE savings over filling a petrol tank. And with the prevalence of fast-charge locations, it’s possible to go from zero to empty in just 30 minutes.

In conclusion, there are many ways to save on fleet operation costs. And by investing in a more efficient fleet, you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. Both tax incentives and lower operating costs make green fleets a no-brainier for serious fleet operators throughout the United Kingdom.

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