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Harvard increases fossil fuel investment despite calls to divest

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The world’s richest university Harvard has invested ten of million of dollars in fossil fuel companies during the third quarter of 2014 despite calls for divestment from the institution’s students and staff.

The figures have led to several faculty members voicing their concern that investment returns are being justified at any cost, even if it negatively impacts the university’s students.

According to the Guardian, Harvard has increased its investment in fossil fuel companies from $11.8 million (£7.7m) to around $79.5 million (£52m) during the third financial quarter of 2014. The single biggest investment went to Anadarko Petroleum, which was involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and stood at $57.4 million (£37.7m).

The figures come from an analysis conducted by Divest Harvard of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. However, it is noted that Harvard’s full investment in fossil fuels companies is likely to be larger than the figures suggest, as SEC filings only cover direct investments and only a small fraction of Harvard’s $34 billion (£22.3bn) endowment is invested directly.

Back in April 2014, 93 professors from the university signed an open letter that labelled the president’s attitude to climate change as “contradictory” and argued that divesting from fossil fuels is an act of “ethical responsibility”. Despite signing the Principles for Responsible Investment and setting up a $20 million (£13m) climate fund, the school has maintained that it will not cut fossil fuels out of its portfolio.

In November, a group of students filed a lawsuit against Harvard for what they called “mismanagement of charitable funds”.

In a new petition from five Harvard faculty members, which has been seen by the Guardian, Harvard is called on to review its position on fossil fuels as a growing number of universities and philanthropic institutions have done.

The petition states, “In striking contrast to these other institutions, Harvard has newly invested ten of million in publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Can putting tens of millions in companies like Anadarko be regarded as responsible sustainable investment – investing that befits a charitable corporation dedicated to scientific truth and ethical education?”

It adds, “We are among a growing number of concerned faculty who questions the idea that investment returns are justified at any cost, including the enormous cost our students and future generations will need to pay for what the fossil fuel industry is doing now and – more importantly – for what it is planning and lobbying to do.”

The campaign Divest Harvard, which is spearheaded by students at the university, calls for the immediate freeze on any new investments in fossil fuel companies, immediate divestment from direct holdings of the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies, and divestment of indirect holding in the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years.

Over the last five years universities, and particularly those in the US, have faced increasing pressure from students and staff to cut out fossil fuel investments. An increasing number are responding by fully or partly divesting, including Stanford and Pitzer College.

Photo: See-ming Lee via Flickr 

Further reading:

Harvard academics rally for ‘ethically responsible’ fossil fuels divestment

Fighting climate change is a moral obligation, Seattle mayor tells Harvard president

Harvard finance arm creates sustainable investment role

Harvard to sign Principles for Responsible Investment and set up $20m climate fund

Students criticise Harvard’s ‘false neutrality’ over fossil fuel divestment

Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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