August 17 – 21, 2015

Norway’s $870-billion (U.S.) oil fund decided this week to exclude four of Asia’s biggest companies because of concerns over environmental damage at Indonesian palm oil plantations. In the first use of a new procedure, Norway’s central bank decided the sovereign wealth fund should not be able to invest in Daewoo International, Posco, Genting and IJM of Malaysia. Monday’s exclusions mark the first time Norway’s central bank made the final decision rather than the finance ministry in an effort to de-politicize the fund.

Cap-and-trade funds help finance slew of programs in California

California’s cap-and-trade program, in its fourth year, remains controversial as a tool to fight greenhouse gases, angering motorists and business interests alike. But it is unquestionably a financial success. The state expects to take in more than $2 billion this year alone by auctioning carbon-emissions allowances, with proceeds being funneled into ride-sharing programs, carbon “digesting” machines for dairy farms and a slew of other programs.
As the energy sector undergoes the profound transformations we expect in the coming two decades, it would be inconceivable for it to end up with its leaders as a group looking the same as their current equivalents, argues Bloomberg New Energy Finance founder Michael Liebreich. The future clean energy system is going to be more open, more accountable, more answerable to the community, and more socially inclusive. This starts with an increase in diversity for the sector at large.
Reporting on sustainability factors has grown substantially, and this has helped propel an increasingly higher amount of investment capital toward sustainability investment strategies. This spectacular rise is in part due to higher societal expectations of important financial institutions, a broadening awareness of risk management and mounting evidence that sustainability-focused investing not only is good for the planet but also leads to superior returns. However, a significant portion of the world’s equity markets still lack the necessary transparency.
A new mobile app developed by Social Change Rewards, with funding support from the B.C. and federal governments, uses the lure of points to encourage Canadians to participate in healthier lifestyles. Points can be earned by letting the app nudge you in the right direction, whether that means reminding you to go to the gym or alerting you to a healthy recipe worth trying. You can also earn points by taking quizzes or reading articles, making this app – appropriately called Carrot Rewards – a powerful educational tool.
Cutting-edge digital technology is sowing the seeds of more efficient, sustainable agriculture, says Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jorge Heraud. Heraud, the co-founder and CEO of a startup called Blue River Technology, has invented a “smart” implement that is able to thin out excess lettuce plants. Smart implements are machines that use cutting-edge robots, computer vision and software algorithms, and they promise to make farming not merely more efficient but more sustainable.

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