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Sustainable Investing Project Updates

The Sustainable Investing Project team has been busy in the past few months!
Presently, we are preparing to make our first round of investments as well as meeting with our advisory committee.


Here are the lessons we’ve learned along the way about the various industries:


After reviewing a number of utilities companies, we were forced to screen out the companies selected as they had significant oil and gas holdings in addition to transmission and renewable energy production. This is indicative of this sector in Canada as fossil fuels are intertwined in many aspects of the energy sector.


For the renewable sector, we were able to dive into ESG research and select some strong performers. While renewable energy is a major positive in the green energy future, we focused on those companies that are innovators and that operate in areas with higher impact (simply put those that are replacing dirtier energy with renewables). This sector had the most ESG metrics and data available due to the regulations and the nature of the industry.

Consumer staples:

This sector was challenging as we learned that in terms of ESG performance, little was being done by the companies that we examined. The major challenge is the complexity and size of the supply chain, and the lack of oversight of said supply chains. We were however able to identify two top performers that pay their workers a living wage which is the exception, not the rule in this industry and this is exemplary performance.


This sector had strong financials (not surprisingly) yet fewer reported metrics in terms of ESG than expected. We were however able to compare the carbon footprints to revenue of the stocks observed to determine the top performers. Moving forward, we are going to look into what green projects the banks are investing in and how much of the activity are they funding to identify exemplary performers as this is the major source of positive or negative environmental impact.

Other lessons:

Reporting on ESG metrics is not standardized, and requires intuition, guesswork and a lot of research. Even as financial and sustainability professionals and students, this is a challenge. However, the amount of research we conducted represents considerable oversight into the portfolio.

How to start as a home investor?

Ask yourself what you are comfortable investing in, or not comfortable investing in. Ask your advisor for green and SRI funds, then ask what exactly is bundled into these funds? Are there weapons, tobacco, fossil fuels etc. If they can’t answer these questions, maybe that’s not the fund for you.