SASB Launches Its First Pilot Program

By Bahar Gidwani

 

At a meeting earlier this week, The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) sasbannounced that it was launching what it calls its “Corporate Roundtable.”  It hopes to get ten large companies to join the Roundtable over the next few months.  These companies will then use the materiality standards that SASB has developed to upgrade their public disclosure documents.

 

The first company to join the program is NASDAQ OMX.  As part of running one of the world’s largest stock exchanges, NASDAQ employs 3,000+ people and operates at least eleven facilities.  It will be fascinating to see SASB’s guidance tested in real life by a company that is deeply involved in a host of regulatory and reporting activities.

 

The International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) started its pilot program in 2011.  We track the companies in this program (and the companies who have supported SASB by joining its working groups).  We were pleased to see that the average ratings for both the IIRC pilot companies (61) and for the SASB working group companies (57) were well above the average for all CSRHub-rated companies (51).  This confirms our view that companies who are actively engaged in understanding and implementing integrated reporting are “ahead of the curve” overall in their sustainability performance.

 

Let us know if you think your company might be interested in joining the Corporate Roundtable.  SASB is actively recruiting new participants and seems willing to provide workshops and other types of training support, to help its pilot companies through the implementation process.

 


 

Bahar GidwaniBahar Gidwani is CEO and Co-founder of CSRHub. He has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA, worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to a number of major companies and currently serves on the board of several software and Web companies. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900 companies from 135 industries in 103 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 300+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 
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Investors Could Drive Real Fossil Fuel Investment Retreat

By Carol Pierson Holding

 

The sustainable investing community has a saying that their greatest achievement will be Wall Streetto put themselves out of business. The fossil fuel divestment movement could say the same: when fossil fuel companies stop their relentless drilling and all assets currently held in reserves are abandoned, drivers of the movement will be looking for work.

 

The way things are going with fossil fuel companies, we might be able to halt the divestment movement sooner than we think.

 

Last week’s news seemed to show the market moving towards an acceptance of climate change’s negative impact on corporate earnings — and a rejection of fossil fuel investments on purely financial terms.

 

On Wednesday, the Obama administration’s National Climate Assessment, was reported in the Wall Street Journal under the headline “Climate Change Is Harming US Economy, Report Says.” The story does not question the report or offer conflicting scientific opinions, but points specifically to greenhouse gases from energy production as the cause:

 

The congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment…says…that it isn’t too late to implement policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and calls on governments at all levels to find ways to lower carbon emissions, particularly from energy production.

 

That’s from The Journal, probably the most fiercely pro-business publication around.

 

But even more astonishing is the story in Forbes “Fossil Fuel-Free Index Will Help Investors Manage Climate Risks.” While the article says the fund, the FTSE Developed ex-Fossil Fuels Index Series, is aimed mainly at universities and public institutions, it does acknowledge —

 

“(The) concept of carbon stranded assets pioneered by the Carbon Tracker initiative contends that fossil fuel companies are overvalued by stock markets because their valuations include assets that cannot be exploited if we are to avoid runaway climate change. …Carbon Tracker sheds further light on the risks, (in its) report… Carbon Supply Cost Curves. Evaluating Financial Risk To Oil Capital Expenditures, setting out the assets most likely to be stranded and the companies best placed to adapt to a low carbon future.”

 

That Report calls out oil sands, Arctic and deepwater exploration as terrible investments.

 

Carbon Tracker’s website describes magical thinking in the fossil fuel industry: “Exxon saying there is no risk does not constitute prudent management of shareholder funds – it’s like King Canute assuming he can hold back the tide, but investors can see that a shift in energy is already coming in.”

 

That’s language you’d expect from activists. But Forbes, that bastion of conservatism, joins in the bashing in choosing to quote analyst Mark Lewis of Europe’s leading broker Kepler Cheuvreux: “The oil industry’s increasingly unsustainable dynamics – as manifested, for example, by ongoing capex (capital expenditure) reductions amid record-high oil prices – mean that stranded-asset risk exists even under business-as-usual conditions: high oil prices will encourage the shift away from oil towards renewables (whose costs are falling) while also incentivising (sic) greater energy efficiency.”

 

Forbes notes that with BlackRock — the world’s largest asset manager — participating in the fund, the anti-fossil fuel movement has gone mainstream.

 

Mainstream? From a reporter at Forbes, whose self-reported audience statistics place its readers at higher levels of wealth and power than any other business publication, is calling the FTS ex-Fossil Fuel Index a welcome first step in making the idea of a world without fossil fuels a mainstream notion?

 

Now that’s progress.

 

Of course there is still enormous weight on the other side of the argument. Fossil fuel companies recognize the threat to their business in the massive shifts in capital that are coming and are determined to get every last bit out of the ground ASAP. Even here in the hyper-environmental Pacific Northwest, the Black Diamond coal mine is reopening after 15 years and proposed coal ports refuse to die.

 

But there is growing evidence that fossil fuels are just a dumb investment. As stated in a recent report by HIP Investor, “Since 2011, the global energy sector has diverged from the S&P 500 for the first time in a decade, and dramatically lagged the S&P 500. The Coal Index (KOL) is down 28% since late 2011, and the Oil & Gas Index (BGR) is down 8% as well.”

 

I see the day coming when investors who hold fossil fuel stocks will be derided for poor money management. The smart money? Managers who bought renewable energy stocks early.

 

Image courtesy of  thetaxhaven via Flickr CC.

 


 

Carol Pierson HoldingCarol Pierson Holding writes on environmental issues and social responsibility for policy and news publications, including the Carnegie Council’s Policy Innovations, Harvard Business Review, San Francisco Chronicle, India Time, The Huffington Post and many other web sites. Her articles on corporate social responsibility can be found on CSRHub.com, a website that provides sustainability ratings data on 8,900+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 300+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 
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Huffington Post Launches CSRHub Sustainability Ratings Widget on HuffPost Green

CSRHub is proud to announce Huffington Post Greenthe launch of its Sustainability Ratings Widget on Huffington Post Green. This tool enables users to quickly access environmental, employee, community and governance ratings on 8,900 companies in 135 industries in 103 countries. You can see the widget in the right side bar on The Huffington Post Green.

 

“We are excited to have our Sustainability Ratings Widget on Huffington Post Green, and pleased that they share this excitement,” said CSRHub Co-founder and CEO, Bahar Gidwani. “Knowledge is power, and CSRHub gives the widest access to companies’ CSR and sustainability performance to help people make their social value convictions actionable.”

 

The ten companies that Huffington Post readers have shown the most interest in so far are: Apple, Wal-Mart, Google, Microsoft, Ford Motor, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Target, Costco Wholesale and General Motors. The CSRHub widget allows readers to see a quick summary of the sustainability performance of these companies and compare their performance to those of their peers and competitors, without leaving the Huffington Post site.  While reading the latest green business news, individuals can easily find a company’s overall sustainability rating, environment, employee, community and governance ratings, and see their industry category and number of rating sources.

 

CSRHub developed the widget as part of a suite of API tools that allow web publishers and software developers to integrate sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) information into their products. CSRHub also has a RESTful API (application programming interface) to its 49 million-item database of sustainability information. You can see the widget at http://www.csrhub.com/content/sustainability-rating-widget and documentation on the API at http://www.csrhub.com/content/api-methods/.

 

“This widget will give HuffPost Green readers a clearer understanding of the sustainability efforts of major companies and is a welcome addition to our page. We’re excited to be working with CSRHub to provide this information,” said James Gerken, HuffPost Green Editor.

 

Huffington Post and CSRHub both seek to raise public awareness about the environmental and social performance of businesses and to call attention to special issues such as fracking, coal, and nuclear power involvement. CSRHub believes that its ratings improve understanding of CSR progress and performance, encourage critical discussions of how companies treat their employees, affect the environment, adjust their carbon footprint, act in their community, and govern themselves, and encourage companies to provide innovative sustainability-driven products and services. The placement of the CSRHub widget in Huffington Post’s Green section is part of a broad movement towards transparency that ties the marketplace performance of companies to their environmental, social and governance performance.

 


 

About CSRHub

CSRHub is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings tool and sustainability information hub that enables managers, researchers, consultants, students and activists to track the CSR and sustainability performance of major companies. CSRHub aggregates data from more 300 sources to provide its users with a comprehensive source of CSR information on about 8,900 companies in 103 countries. CSRHub is a B Corporation. Browse CSRHub’s ratings at www.csrhub.com.

 

About The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is a Pulitzer Prize-winning source of breaking news, features, and entertainment, as well as a highly engaged community for opinion and conversation. The Huffington Post has 94 million monthly global unique visitors (comScore, November 2013) with more than 40% coming from outside the US. The site has over 50,000 bloggers — from politicians, students and celebrities to academics, parents and policy experts — who contribute in real-time on the subjects they are most passionate about and the site posts over eight million comments each month. The Huffington Post has editions in the UK, Canada, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Maghreb and Germany. The Huffington Post is part of AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL).

 

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Clean Solar Coming Thanks to Chemistry Breakthrough

By Carol Pierson Holding

 

Last Friday, chemists at the University of Wisconsin published an article in the academictrain station journal Science Magazine in which Dr. Tehshik Yoon and co-authors, Danielle Schultz, Juana Du and Kazimer Skubi, describe how they successfully harnessed light to produce a controlled chemical reaction.

 

Yoon and his team were looking for a solution to manufacturing pharmaceuticals without the toxic by-products generated in current processes, heat and UV. Natural light can power reactions that heat and ultra-violet light cannot, but past approaches have been too inefficient to be sustainable.

 

The next potential breakthrough? Paraphrasing Yoon, “Plants do the same thing during photosynthesis: absorb light, release high-energy electrons, and use those electrons to bond water and carbon dioxide into sugars. That reaction is the basis of essentially all of agriculture and all food chains.”

 

Yoon is echoing Giacomo Luigi Ciamician, an Italian chemist working at the end of the last century. In a paper he presented in 1912 at the 8th International Congress on Applied Chemistry, Ciamician used vivid imagery to predict that natural light would one day supplant fossil fuels as the primary energy source:

 

On the arid lands there will spring up industrial colonies without smoke and without smokestacks; forests of glass tubes will extend over the plains and glass buildings will rise everywhere; inside of these will take place the photochemical processes that hitherto have been the guarded secret of the plants, but that will have been mastered by human industry which will know how to make them bear even more abundant fruit than nature, for nature is not in a hurry and mankind is. And if in a distant future the supply of coal becomes completely exhausted, civilization will not be checked by that, for life and civilization will continue as long as the sun shines!”

 

Ciamician’s vision was so compelling that he was nominated nine times for a Nobel Prize, but its execution so daunting that scientists considered it infeasible. Over the years, it’s been the holy grail in photochemistry, but so difficult that despite breakthroughs along the way, chemists had all but given up. Now the next critical step has been reached, and we can hope again.

 

Like the early days of the auto, when there roads were not paved and difficult to navigate in a car, when engines blew up and repair people were not plentiful, before gas stations populated every corner, solar energy is still primitive. Solar panel materials are  famously toxic. Roof fires happen often enough to scare away homeowners. Solar companies are uneasy about disclosing their toxicity, and the one large PV provider who did have an Extended Producer Responsibility program, First Solar, dropped it after three years. So we think of solar panels as a transition technology, like the Ford Model T, and put up with them because in them we see the future: solar panels are our bridge to Ciamician’s ultimate future.

 

Light provides energy without waste or danger for all of nature, a process we are closer now to imitating. Let’s just hope the timetable for the next discovery doesn’t take another 100 years. We just don’t have that kind of time.

 

Image courtesy of Remko van Dokkum via Flickr CC.

 


 

Carol Pierson HoldingCarol Pierson Holding writes on environmental issues and social responsibility for policy and news publications, including the Carnegie Council’s Policy Innovations, Harvard Business Review, San Francisco Chronicle, India Time, The Huffington Post and many other web sites. Her articles on corporate social responsibility can be found on CSRHub.com, a website that provides sustainability ratings data on 8,900+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 300+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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Waste Management Inc. CSR Performance Benchmark

Sustainability Ratings

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability metrics site CSRHub recently updated its ratings on Waste Management Inc. and the 37 companies in the Waste Management and Remediation Services industry.  Waste Management’s overall rating currently is 60 after the most recent updates to their CSRHub page.

 

Click “Waste Management and Remediation Services” in the CSRHub Sustainability Ratings widget above to see all the companies in this industry.
The average rating for the other companies in the Waste Management and Remediation Services industry is 57.  Waste Management has moved down and is currently ranked 6th on the list, using the CSRHub average user profile. You can see more information about Waste Management Inc. at their CSRHub page here.

 

Waste Management has a particularly strong score of 70 in the Employees area.  This is due to a high score in the Training, Health and Safety category of 75—well above the average for this industry of 61.  The area with the greatest opportunity for improvement for Waste Management is in the Community category.  Here, Waste Management is rated at 54, which is below the industry average of 59.

 

See Waste Management’s Corporate Social Responsibility website here.

 


 

CSRHub ratings are on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest. To see more on how CSRHub creates a score and the CSRHub rating rules, visit here.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 103 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 300+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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