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Today we observe Veterans Day in the United States, also known as Armistice Day — an occasion when the world successfully united for a common cause and ended WWI. (Scroll down for a list of resources and tools we’ve compiled to help you identify companies that support veterans.)
As COP26 wraps up in Glasgow on Friday, it’s also time for a moment of truth on how well we’ve come together with the rest of the world to fight one of the biggest security threats of our time: climate change.
After the speeches are over, the haggis is eaten, and everyone unironically flies back home, there will be a lot more work to do. In this issue, we break down the headlines and unpack what these latest commitments mean for investors like you.
As former US President Barack Obama pointed out in his speech on Monday, when it comes to global efforts to mitigate climate change, “collectively and individually we’re still falling short.”
Ultimately, it’s up to all of us, collectively and individually, if this moment will be remembered as the “tipping point” in climate awareness by future generations.
Tell us what you think in our Twitter poll!
— FWIW Editors
Impact movers: Electric boogaloo
> All-electric vehicle startup Rivian had the biggest US IPO since 2012, in the latest sign of investors throwing their weight behind EVs. The Amazon-backed truck maker raised almost $12 billion this week in the 12th largest listing in history. Rivian’s investors include Ford and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. We were excited to see the investor enthusiasm for EV companies propel the stock to $119 on the first day of trading and to hear the company committed 8.2 million shares to their Forever fund to “support high-impact climate initiatives and preserve critical biodiversity.” We also must admit that we were already fans: their factory is located in Normal, Illinois, the town where our CEO Jean Case grew up.
> The landmark infrastructure bill provides $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which is great news for EVCS companies across the country. Experts say we would need 2.4 million EV charging stations by 2030 if 36% of new car sales were electric. The government has promised 500,000 stations by then, and we're currently at less than 50,000, which means there's a long way to go to meet surging demand.
> Ford sets US green bonds record with its $2.5 billion sale to fund EV efforts— the largest green bonds sale by a U.S. corporation, according to Bloomberg. The company has ambitious goals to make 40% to 50% of its global vehicle volume fully electric by 2030.
> Regulators pave the way for more shareholder activism on climate issues, including emissions targets. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it will make it harder for companies to ignore such ballot proposals at annual shareholder meetings. SEC noted it “would not concur in the exclusion of similar proposals that suggest targets or timelines so long as the proposals afford discretion to management as to how to achieve such goals.” Tldr: it’s up to companies how to achieve them, but shareholders can and should set goals.
> COP26 round up:
- In a pairing more surprising than the Taco Bell + Long John Silver’s restaurant crossover, two of the biggest emitters and economies in the world came out with a rare last-minute joint statement. The US and China pledged to do better on climate ahead of their virtual summit next week. The statement lists several areas of cooperation, including initiatives on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, clean energy transition, circular economy, and the use of renewable resources.
- Missing climate funds: The summit’s big question — who will pay for global climate transition? — was still hovering in the air in the last days of COP26, with nations at the frontline of the climate crisis’ impact seeking funding in the early draft of the COP26 deal. There are still no concrete answers on where these nations will get the $1.3 trillion a year in climate finance they say they need. Perhaps the most enduring image from the event will be Simon Kofe, the foreign minister of small island nation Tuvalu, delivering his speech knee-deep in seawater.
Investing in companies that value vets
Investing in companies that support our veterans is not just a nice thing to do on Veterans Day, it can also pay off all year round.
Each year, an estimated 200,000 US military members retire from service, and one of the obstacles they face is finding a suitable job, often in addition to addressing mental or physical health challenges.
We’ve gathered some of the tools and resources you can use to identify companies that seek to make the transition to civilian life smoother and more meaningful.
One tool is VETS Indexes, which provides two impact indexes of publicly traded companies that do the most to support vets through employment: the VETS Employers Index, in which all companies included have a minimum market cap of $200 million, and Veterans Select Index, which has a $1 billion market cap minimum. VETS Indexes also publishes rankings of the best employers each year. Their social impact indexes’ criteria include veteran development and retention, inclusive policies and culture, military spouse and family support, recruiting and hiring, and support for members of the reserves.
In the corporate sector, there are several standouts that seek to recruit and support veterans beyond the players working closely with the US Department of Defense. Xcel Energy has a dedicated vet recruiting service: one in 10 of its new hires have served. Comcast has set a goal to employ 21,000 members of the military community, offering a range of benefits like reserves paid time off and transfer assistance for spouses. Southwest Airlines uses a Military Skills Translator, enabling applicants to find the best jobs that match their skill sets.
In the private space, there are startup accelerators like Vet-Tech. Online platform Hello Alice provides military-connected business owners with how-to guides and resources, including funding, training programs, and networking opportunities.
Greenwashing task force to the rescue
Among the big announcements at COP26: the formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), a response to requests for clarity on what company ESG disclosures should include that some are calling a “greenwashing task force.”
The new ISSB will mark the first global effort to create a single standard for ESG data reporting. Until now, holding companies accountable for ESG-related performance meant asking them to share data based on any of the 15 frameworks floating around, making it easier for companies to blame poor performance on confusing or conflicting requests.
The new board will solve that problem by rolling up a bunch of these existing frameworks — including the more well-known ones, like the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board — into one.
Reaching a global consensus on what data is needed to assess ESG performance means we’re a step closer to regulators setting (and enforcing) better targets, ratings agencies making better apples-to-apples comparisons, and investors ultimately having access to better information. But first, the task force needs to get to work (that groan you just heard is everyone remembering their most infamous group projects). There are still a few frameworks that haven’t signed on, and it remains to be seen whether some will try to differentiate themselves. The big question: how long will it take for standard ESG reporting to be as normal as a quarterly report?
Before you go -
Companies ho, ho, ho-pe their workers are happy before the holiday season. A new survey shows the Great Resignation is far from over before the busiest time of the year for shoppers. Millions of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs and hope to find better salaries or feel more valued in a new role.