Heating up Hotter Earth drives dollars to sustainable funds

NEW YORK — This year is on pace to be one of the hottest on record, again, and the trend may only accelerate as President Donald Trump loosens policies meant to combat climate change.That has some investors feeling anger, but others are seeing dollar signs. They’re envisioning profits made by companies targeting opportunities wrought by the changing climate. Perhaps more importantly, investors are also seeing big, potential losses to be avoided.Consider the recent bankruptcy filing of PG&E, the California utility owner facing mountains of potential liabilities due to wildfires that devastated northern California. Some funds that take environmental, social and corporate-governance factors into account when making their investments long ago decided to avoid PG&E, which meant their investors didn’t take losses from the bankruptcy.That’s one reason why demand is continuing to grow for such funds, often called “ESG” investments in the industry, says John Streur. He is chief executive officer of Calvert Research and Management, one of the largest families of responsibly invested mutual funds. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.Q: ESG investing has been getting more popular for years, but was there any pickup specifically because of Trump? Like after he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement or last month’s announcement to help coal-fired plants?A: We certainly have had significant inflows in new business since Trump became president. There’s a secular, big trend occurring that’s favourable for ESG, but if the government were doing everything it possibly can from a regulatory, policy perspective, investors would be less likely to take special action. When the government is going backward on these issues, investors are much more likely to say, “We need to deal with this ourselves. We need to make sure they are managing these risks properly, because the regulatory framework is not as helpful as it could be.”Q: Are investors specifically mentioning him when they bring money to your funds?A: Trump is the proverbial elephant in the room against which governors, mayors, and asset owners are all trying to create their own strategy to protect physical assets and financial assets. Very few people say, “I track this back to Trump.”Q: Is climate change the No. 1 thing on the mind of investors coming to Calvert?A: It’s been the No. 1 issue for a period of time, and it’s attracting more attention and rigour. So much information, aside from Trump, is becoming available about the risks to physical assets, plants, property, equipment, the risks to businesses in terms of just conducting their business during severe weather events, risks associated with wildfires.Five years ago, people thought this was something that the next generation was going to deal with. Today, they realize this is something we have to deal with right now.Q: You wrote something recently highlighting what the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said recently about climate change, and how Texas may not be the place where ESG investing is most welcome. Are your investors all along the coasts?A: What we’re finding around the country is people who might not have come to this form of investing previously have recognized that these issues really matter to the long-term success of the companies they invest in. And that’s bringing everybody to the table.While in the past, you might have said this is coastal, or this is liberal, that’s just not the case anymore. Institutions, as well as individuals, from every background around the country are sitting up and taking notice that their portfolios need to be managed in a way that deals with these risks and, in some cases, opportunities.Q: How about the companies you invest in: Have you found them to be more open to talking with you about environmental and other issues?A: Companies are much more receptive. We’ve even got some companies proactively coming to us, where we are beginning a dialogue.Q: Is that across the board, or only in some industries or in some countries?A: I have to say, really across the board, even in China, which is almost a different system.Q: Part of that is because your funds can hold their investments for a long time?A: Our big growth fund, Calvert Equity, has turnover below 30% and in some periods even lower than that. I think with ESG engagement, done the right way, you’re really facilitated by being a long-term investor. You can’t have engagement with a company if you’re going to sell the company in three months.Stan Choe, The Associated Press read more

An interesting matchup vs Penn State awaits Ohio State mens basketball in

OSU players cheer during a game against Michigan State on Feb. 23 at the Schottenstein Center.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorSince early November, the Ohio State men’s basketball team has been trudging through a 31-game swamp of a regular season, its caliber of play seemingly as unpredictable as the Ohio weather. The Buckeyes’ future went from being grayscale amid an early three-game losing skid to technicolor after they stunned then-No. 4 Kentucky before fading fast into an unidentifiable palette during conference play.Yet now the regular season, and all its confusion, has concluded, and seventh-seeded OSU (19-12, 11-7) has been allotted a chance to start over Thursday in the Big Ten tournament against 10th-seeded Penn State. The game, which is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m. in Indianapolis, is the epitome of a make-or-break situation for the Buckeyes. OSU not only needs a victory to advance in the tournament, but a first-round exit would, effectively, end all its chances of an NCAA tournament berth.“I think that mostly our guys have a pretty good understanding that you’re entering into a tournament that if you don’t win, you go home,” OSU coach Thad Matta said Monday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “The level should be raised in terms of how we want to play and how we want to compete.” OSU enters the conference tournament on the heels of two double-digit losses to now-second-ranked Michigan State with a victory over then-No. 8 Iowa sandwiched in between. The Nittany Lions (16-15, 7-11) wander into the Bankers Life Fieldhouse winners of five of their last eight games, headlined by wins over eventual regular-season conference champion Indiana and then-No. 4 Iowa. On Jan. 25 in Columbus, the two teams met for the lone regular-season matchup, which OSU won by 20 points. But in tournament play, putting too much weight on previous meetings can be dangerous, especially since the two teams are playing differently now. “They’re obviously a much better basketball team than when we played them a month ago, and our guys will be well aware of that from film,” Matta said. Added Penn State coach Pat Chambers: “We’re really two different teams … it should be an interesting matchup.” Burden of youth The Buckeyes are nearly bereft of upperclassmen, with junior forward Marc Loving being the sole one. That inexperience hurt them during the regular season, and Matta said he understands it might play a role again Thursday. OSU freshman guard JaQuan Lyle (13) controls the ball during a game against Michigan State on Feb. 23 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorOf the 10 players on OSU’s active roster, seven have yet to log a minute in a Big Ten tournament. The three who have are Loving, sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop and redshirt sophomore guard Kam Williams. To compensate, the coach said pristine performances in practice leading up to Thursday’s matchup are of heavy emphasis. “We want to have the best practice we’ve had all year and be as good as we can possibly be going into this tournament,” he said. Who will take Taylor? In the first meeting, both teams struggled at times but particularly, Nittany Lion senior Brandon Taylor had a tough time on that wintery evening. The forward struggled to engineer anything offensively, finishing the night with 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting and two rebounds in 36 minutes. In the 27 games this season in which Taylor logged north of 20 minutes, his 11-point outing against the Buckeyes was tied for his second-lowest scoring total. Singling out one cause for the woes wouldn’t be fair, but the suffocating defense that OSU sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate supplied certainly trammeled Taylor. On Thursday, however, keeping Penn State’s leading scorer in check won’t be as easy as assigning Tate to follow Taylor wherever he goes. That is, of course, because Tate is out for the season after having shoulder surgery on Feb. 26. It’s a prime example of why regular-season games can’t be too much of the focus entering tournament time. Both teams are now playing with a different deck than they were in Columbus.The Buckeyes certainly have no shortage of wing defenders — freshman forward Mickey Mitchell, Bates-Diop and Loving, to name a few — but all pale in comparison to Tate on the defensive end. Taylor is the type of player who “can get going at any given moment,” Matta said, and what makes slowing him down laborious is the fact that other perimeter players, such as sophomore guard Shep Garner, can score the basketball, too. Garner was hobbled by an ankle injury in the January, but he’s been hot as of late. In his past five games, he’s averaging 19.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. His play, coupled with the fact that Taylor won’t have to deal with Tate’s peskiness, present an interesting challenge for the Buckeyes. “Obviously, on Thursday we’re going to have to have the same type of effort (from the first meeting), same type of focus of not letting those guys get going,” Matta said. Up nextThe winner of Thursday’s game will advance to take on No. 2 seed Michigan State. That game is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. read more