Green investing focuses on investing in companies and technologies that are deemed to be good for the environment. This includes individual companies that have a solid track record of reducing the environmental impact of their operations, as well as companies that offer alternative energy technologies such as solar and wind power. Green investors will also avoid investing in companies that have a negative impact on the environment, such as companies with poor emissions standards. Socially responsible investing is broader in its focus in that it considers companies that create a social and environmental benefit, and avoids companies that have a negative effect on society. Companies with a strong record of charitable contributions that provide a fair and diverse workplace, and/or that have a minimal impact on the environment are just a few examples of social responsibility. A major part of socially responsible investing is the exclusion of certain industries that are deemed to have a negative impact on society, including those involved in alcohol, tobacco and defence.
Six Trends in socially responsible investing to watch for in 2010.
1 Continued push towards technology.
As technology has been a pillar of the fundamentals of social investing, 2011 will not prove any different. It will be the development of technology that allows the world to achieve better sustainability, ranging in areas from energy to food scarcity. Considered to be an underlying mega-trend of socially responsible investing, the advancement of technology, and subsequently human productivity, will continue to be a strong foundation in the performance of socially responsible investment portfolios.
2 Renewable energy.
Continuing to push forward for renewable energy, socially responsible investors and companies are looking for the new technologies that will turn renewable energy into a cost-effective reality. Shell for example, will expand its investments in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power by also investing in next generation sustainable bio-fuels that will not drive up food prices or lead to deforestation. When this technology is mature, it will create a new evolutionary process of cost-effective renewable energy. Green investments in this sector will continue to grow in a quest to find better, more sustainable energy sources.
3 Changing tide for all companies.
As the movements for human rights, sustainability, and corporate governance responsibility have moved into the mainstream consumer’s radar, all corporations will eventually be impacted by shifting perspectives – and held responsible for their corporate governance sustainability practices. In addition, prompted by the growing strength and influence of social investing dollars, which account for $1 out of every $5 of managed investment funds, corporations have no choice but to respond to the changing tide. An exemplary example is Walmart, the black sheep of retail corporations, who recently released its first sustainability report – and also began offering sustainable farm produce and organic food in the stores.
4 Global warming measures.
With mainstream financial powerhouses launching “climate change funds,” global warming measures will continue to fuel the growth of socially responsible investing and green investing. With additional calls from both the scientific community and policy makers, companies are taking heed. In addition, there are significant profits to be made. According to the “Carbon Beta” research report published by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, the corporations who capitalized upon climate change opportunities have performed better than their industry peers. This value can only continue to grow, with government policies moving towards stricter emission controls, benefiting those socially responsible stocks that are geared toward solving the environmental problem.
5 Going green.
The socially responsible investing focus on green investments has been a significantly prominent staple of the screening process of sustainability. However, in 2011, expect additional “financially green” investment vehicles introduced to the global market. With growing consumer awareness fuelled by media coverage, the report predicted an increased demand for green investing – and related green financial instruments – offered by specialised investment firms. In addition, with the launch of several regulated and non-regulated green funds, focused on environmentally friendly initiatives and sustainable companies, the trend of green investments in the financial sector will be a big mover in 2010.
6 Community investing.
Having grown five times in value since 1995, community investment efforts will continue to be a leading trend in social investing for 2011. With the private real estate market in the US either decreasing or hitting a plateau, the supply of land available for low-income housing and economic projects increases – creating additional opportunities for community investments.
Don’t let the recent events on global stock markets scare you off. Green investment fundamentals are rock solid. Green Investing is at the nexus of stimulus support by governments around the World. But it’s not just governments. Corporations, too, are ramping up their Green investments. You may be familiar with some of them. Big companies like Intel… PepsiCo… Dell… and Wal-Mart are investing substantial amounts of money in solar, energy-efficient buildings, sustainable food practices and other renewable technologies.
World leaders and CEOs of multinational corporations aren’t tree-hugging liberals getting into Green Investments because they want to “make the world a better place.” They are shrewd economic realists betting big dollars that Green technology is vital to their economic survival. A few years ago, Green Investing may have been the domain of environmental idealists, but today it is one of the fastest-growing sectors on global markets. It is still early days, and the sector is still young enough to provide tremendous opportunities to the discerning investor. Green is here to stay. And it’s shaping up to be the cornerstone of the 21st century economy.