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Most Influential SRI & Corporate Governance Analysts Globally: IRRI 2015

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MSCI ESG Research sweeps major categories in investor poll | CDP tops climate-change categories | Unilever, Nordea and CalPERS win categories for companies, asset managers and asset owners

WeConvene Extel and www.SRI‐CONNECT.com today announced the results of the Independent Research in Responsible Investment (IRRI) Survey 2015; the most authoritative global survey evaluating how asset managers rate the services of independent providers of sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) & corporate governance (CG) research.

“Alongside the headline awards, IRRI has generated a wealth of data that will help quoted companies engage more effectively with this growing segment of capital markets”, said Steve Kelly, Managing Director of WeConvene Extel. “The SRI & corporate governance dimension is here to stay and is growing fast; The communications best practices that IRRI has identified should enable companies to benefit from the rise of engaged, responsible, long‐term investors.”

Award winner from the major categories were:

For SRI

  • Best SRI analysis (firm): MSCI ESG Research

o    Runners‐up: Sustainalytics & CDP

  • Best SRI analysts (individual): James Magness (CDP) & Gustavo Pimentel (Sitawi)

o    Runner‐up: Greg Elders (Bloomberg)

  • Best Salesperson for SRI research: Daniel Sailer (MSCI ESG Research)

o    Runners‐up: Catalina Secreteanu (Sustainalytics) & Vipul Arora (Solaron)

For Corporate Governance

  • Best Corporate Governance analysis (firm): MSCI ESG Research

o    Runners‐up: ISS & Sustainalytics

  • Best Corporate Governance analyst (individual): Adam Ward (MSCI ESG Research)

o    Runners‐up: Alan Brett (MSCI ESG Research) & Loic Dessaint (Proxinvest)

  • Best Salesperson for Corporate Governance research: Daniel Sailer (MSCI ESG Research)

o    Runners‐up: Vipul Arora (Solaron) & Cornelia Bedford (MSCI ESG Research)

Amongst Companies

  • Best company for SRI: Unilever

o    Runners up: Novo Nordisk, Intel & Repsol

About Asset Managers And Owners

  • Asset Owner contribution to sustainable investment: CalPERS (USA)

o    Runners‐up: PFZW (Netherlands) & ERAFP (France)

  • Asset Manager contribution to sustainable investment: Nordea (Sweden)

o    Runners‐up: Amundi (France) & BMO Global Asset Management (UK)

Insights & Innovation

  • Best analysts (nominated by companies): Cedric Laverie (Amundi), Hardik Shah (Sustainalytics), Robbert Gerritsen (ISS), Orith Azoulay (Natixis) & Yannick Ouaknine (Societe Generale)
  • Best research: CDP Sector Reports including Flicking the Switch and No Room for Passengers

o    Runner‐up: CarbonTracker: Carbon Supply Cost Curves

Other Category Winners

  • Best for engagement services: GES Invest
  • Best for news: Bloomberg
  • Best for voting execution: ISS

The Dynamics Of SRI Research And Communications

Alongside the rankings, IRRI explores the dynamics of SRI & corporate governance research and the communications practices of companies. Highlights of this research includes:

  • 47% of asset owners explicitly mandate asset managers to integrate sustainability and corporate governance factors into investment
  • 68% of asset managers see direct contact with companies on sustainability and corporate governance issues as important or very important to their investment research process
  • Investor relations managers are taking control of the SRI and corporate governance (47% vs 30% last year).
  • Strong demand from all sides (companies, investors and analysts) for closer linkage in between sustainability and financial information in reporting and analysis

Survey Details

The survey ran through October and received responses from 1,287 voters from 681 different firms in 35 different countries. It asked for quantitative and qualitative responses from asset managers globally on how they rate the SRI research published by independent providers, as well as from the research providers themselves on how well quoted companies communicate their sustainability performance to investment analysts and on how asset managers communicate their research needs.

“The IRRI results show the depth, variety and innovation available in SRI & corporate governance research markets.” added Mike Tyrrell, Editor of www.SRI‐CONNECT.com. “Investment research markets worldwide are under scrutiny with asset managers encouraged to find the best insights and also focus on research costs. It is, therefore, encouraging to see that SRI & corporate governance research have the strength, depth and openness to respond to both needs.”

A report with findings from the survey is available on www.extelsurveys.com.

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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