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Top 10 SRI Inflection Points of the Decade
1 / 17 / 2020
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2012: advocates for fossil fuel divestment, and plays a large part in pushing the idea of fossil-fuel free investing to the mainstream. 

2012: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink starts sending a public annual letter to CEOs, and highlights the importance of ESG topics to the now $6T-asset manager. His most recent letter, published this week, highlighted climate risk as an investment risk.  

2015: Oil majors BP and Shell endorse landmark shareholder resolutions on climate risk disclosure, named ‘Aiming for A’ by their proponents. 

2015: Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, two of the largest coal companies, face lawsuits from their retirement plan beneficiaries for continuing to offer their own stock in several of their retirement plans.

2015: The Department of Labor issues guidance on the use of ESG principles under ERISA, stating that ESG investments are not incompatible with fiduciary duty. The DOL later issued a clarification, walking back the Department’s encouragement of ESG factors in certain cases. While ESG investments have grown tremendously, only 2.4% of 401(k) plans offer ESG funds as an investment option

2016: Morningstar offers sustainability fund ratings for 20,000 funds, giving many advisors access to fund ESG scores for the first time. 

2019: The Business Roundtable released a statement on the purpose of a corporation, putting into question the primacy of shareholders and acknowledging companies’ responsibility to care for employees, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment. 

2019: After years of advocacy by investor groups, the last all-male board in the S&P 500 adds a woman director to its board. The number of women on boards around the world has grown, reaching 20% of board seats at companies in the MSCI ACWI.

2019: The SEC ups its scrutiny of ESG, and outlines a proposal that would limit small shareholders’ ability to file proposals. 

2019: ESG investing has grown at a rapid pace: in 2019, sustainability-linked funds took in a record haul of close to $18B in the US, and ESG-linked bond issuance was expected to hit $200B globally.


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