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Publisher's note
Toby is the CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights Inc. and publisher of Corporate Knights Magazine. He spearheaded the first global ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations in 2005, and in 2007 coined the term “clean capitalism.”

Editor’s Note: We can’t let greenwash make us lose sight of the prize

Former BlackRock chief calls sustainable investing a farce but millions investing in a better world can't be ignored

This March, Tariq Fancy, the former chief sustainable investment officer of the largest investment house in the world, BlackRock, called out the multi-trillion-dollar sustainable investment complex for perpetuating a massive greenwash campaign that is duping the public and imperiling the planet.

Fancy made three main points:

1. Wall Street is hawking funds labelled as green or sustainable that in many cases are anything but.

2. The much-pedalled idea that sustainable investing is good for the bottom line is a myth.

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Introducing the 2021 Carbon Clean200: Investing in a Clean Energy Future

Carbon Clean200 surges ahead, leaves dirty-energy index in the dust

Corporate Knights and As You Sow have released the annual Clean200 list of publicly traded companies that are leading the way with solutions for the transition to a clean-energy future.

Since our first report was launched in the summer of 2016, a great deal has changed in the world.

Larry Fink, the CEO of the largest investment firm in the world, BlackRock, wrote in his 2021 letter to CEOs:

“Given how central the energy transition will be to every company’s growth prospects, we are asking companies to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy – that is, one where global warming is limited to well below 2°C, consistent with a global aspiration of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

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Editor’s Note: Time to go all in on the zero carbon economy

What gets funded gets done. How we invest our trillions starting right now will determine our future

When Elon Musk was a teenager living in Montreal, he ran an experiment to see if he could survive on a dollar-a-day food budget for a month. If he could live on almost nothing, he thought, he could afford to risk everything. Even if he failed spectacularly, he would always be able to scrounge up $30 to avoid going hungry.

A combination of pasta, hot dogs, oranges and green peppers got him through the month.

Some 30 years later, riding Tesla’s soaring stock, Musk passed Jeff Bezos to become the richest man on the planet, with a net worth of US$189.7 billion as of January 8, 2021.

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My favourite year

Corporate Knights' Editor-in-Chief reflects on the (green) silver linings of 2020

The familiar joys of the festive season are muted this year by fears surrounding the pandemic and the sputtering economy. In the background, many of us still hear the ticking time bomb of climate change.

Just maybe, however, 2020 will go down as the year we started getting things right. Science broke all speed records for developing effective vaccines. The United States elected a president with the greenest agenda ever. Solar emerged as the least expensive energy source in history. And more political and business leaders are recognizing that society’s vulnerability to COVID-19 is rooted in longstanding inequities and harmful behaviours that are finally being addressed.

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Editor’s note: Lighting a path to the world we want

It will take a community to overcome the forces of status quo

My great-uncle David Heaps bounded up flights of stairs into his 80s. While he never lost the bounce in his step or his wry wit, his counsel in later years was tempered by rebellious realism – no doubt the result of seeing rapid progress in the decade after World War II, which was subsequently swamped by the forces of conventional wisdom and groupthink that so often seek a reversion to the status quo.

Two of Uncle David’s axioms replay in my head on a regular basis:

“It’s a losing battle, but then those are the only ones worth fighting.”

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How Canadian businesses can Own the Podium

A green recovery could be a shot in the arm for Canadian companies to win on the world stage

With federal plans being drawn up for unprecedented levels of public investment to help us recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set Canadian businesses up for success. If we get this right, over the next decade we can create 6.7 milllion high-quality, green-tinted blue- and white-collar job years over the next decade, while adding more than $1 trillion of value to the Canadian economy.

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A new social contract and climate capitalism: Our best shot at building back better

COVID has exposed the brittleness of our economic system. People and climate must be at front of the line come stimulus time

The COVID crisis and the climate crisis have a lot in common.

Both are mortal threats to humanity, but the coronavirus has the urgency of a bullet coming at our heads, whereas the climate crisis is a slower burn (albeit increasingly prone to blazing flare-ups).

With the coronavirus, time is compressed into minutes, hours, days and months. What we do today can determine if our families, neighbours and communities get deadly ill in the next 14 days. That temporally compressed line that connects our actions to their life-saving impacts has spurred governments around the globe to make the tough decision to lock down their economies and bring the engine of capitalism to a shuddering halt.

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The Canada we want: How a green recovery can help us bounce back stronger

Applying a climate lens to the recovery package will help ramp up some of the best opportunities to get people back to work

This time last year, governments around the world – including Canada’s – began declaring emergencies. Nothing to do with a virus, just a planet on fire. Meanwhile, we continued to pour kerosene on the fire, while somebody was off consulting stakeholders to find the telephone number of the fire department.

The coronavirus is a whole different beast. Within 30 days of the first recorded death in Canada  (an 83-year-old man at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre on March 9), the federal government rolled out direct new spending of $105 billion to deal with the immediate fallout from shutting down vast parts of the economy in an attempt to contain the virus.

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Does betting on the bad guys pay?

Socially controversial stocks are small in number and mostly underperforming

Does it pay to be naughty? It depends on the definition of naughty and which time period. To provide some insight, Corporate Knights used S&P Capital IQ to calculate the 10-year annualized total return (up to Nov. 29, 2019) for 21 red-flag themes.

Over the past 10 years, vice was virtuous for returns if you invested in guns, sex, meat, gambling and booze, all of which outperformed the stock market on average.

That guns are smoking stocks is not surprising, given that military spending, led by the U.S., has been on the rise for the past decade, and given the tragic frequency of mass shootings, which tend to boost sales as gun owners rush to stock up in fear that their right to bear arms will be curtailed.

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Eco-Fund Ranking 2020: The ultimate guide to responsible investing

We ranked over 700 mutual funds and ETFs through a sustainability lens. Here are the top scorers

When it comes to investing for most people, the goal is to make money, not save the world.

Nevertheless, sustainable or responsible investing (whichever term you prefer) has hit the big-time, particularly around the theme of climate change.

Michael Baldinger, head of impact investing at UBS wealth management, which manages more than US$4 trillion in assets, claims that sustainable investing is now the fastest-growing asset class at scale in the world.

It’s hard to argue with the numbers. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance says there is a US$30 trillion pot of sustainable investments across various themes as of 2018, growing at about 12% per year. A lot of that growth is coming from pension funds and other institutional investors signed up to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, whose members control US$86 trillion.

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