Top 10 Sustainable Business Stories of 2017

Frank Sherman, Executive Director of Seventh Generation Interfaith

We experienced a record number of extreme weather events in 2017. We also witnessed a different kind of inversion. As our government reversed environmental and social regulations, companies took voluntary actions to protect people and the planet. In a Harvard Business Review profile of the Top 10 Sustainable Business Stories of 2017, business leaders took steps to reduce climate change. As the new administration pulled out of the Paris Agreement and made an all-out assault on our air, water, climate, and land, multinational corporations joined state and local governments to declare We Are Still In. Large institutional investors such as Blackrock and Vanguard woke up to the risk of climate change in voting with faith-based shareholder proposals.

China accelerated their sustainability efforts, stepping into the leadership position given up by the U.S., by committing to cut coal by 30% and cancelling 103 coal plants; making big moves in electric vehicles; and becoming the world’s largest solar producer. As the U.S. administration moved to relax fuel efficiency standards, GM, Ford and Volvo announced major investments in electric vehicles (EV). France, India, Britain, Norway, and China commitment to ban diesel and gas vehicles over the next couple of decades helped push EV sales up 63% globally last year!

Business leaders like Apple’s Tim Cook stood up stating that sustainability that isn’t about philanthropy, but rather about the core business and its role in society. Companies supported state attorney generals’ suit of the administration’s immigration ban and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Looking ahead at 2018, author Andrew Winston predicted that “Millennials and Gen Z will continue to push for purpose and meaning in work and life”. Companies will set more aggressive sustainability goals and embrace “clean labels” (…like Walmart, Target, and Panera did in 2017). The #metoo movement against sexual harassment will move beyond media and politics to the corporate suites.

Happy New Year!

Global investors urge G7 to stand by Paris Agreement

Seventh Generation Interfaith and several of our members were among 200 institutional investors representing more than USD 15 trillion in assets who sent a letter urging the G7 heads of state to stand by their commitments to the Paris Agreement at their upcoming Summit in Taormina, Italy on May 26-27. These investors ask the world leaders to reiterate their support for and commitment to implement the Paris Agreement, including the delivery of their own Nationally Determined Contributions in full. A briefing paper for governments of the G7 and G20 nations was prepared by six investor organisations including the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, CDP, Ceres, the Investor Group on Climate (IGCC, Australia/New Zealand), the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change (IIGCC, Europe), and The Principles for Responsible Investment.

“With the US threatening to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement next week, now is the time for investors to make their voices heard by encouraging governments to stand firm on their commitment to the Paris Agreement,” said Fiona Reynolds, managing director of the PRI. “Investors worldwide have come to understand the material financial risks around climate change. Certainly, at the PRI, our members have noted climate risks as their number one ESG concern.”