Clean Investor, August 16: Church investor group welcomes Niger Delta oil spills report

RI’s regular Tuesday round-up of clean investing developments

The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), the church-based investor coalition, has welcomed a major new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report highlighting the scale of oil spills in the Goony area of the Niger Delta. The ECCR filed shareholder resolutions at Shell annual general meetings in 1997 and 2006 to raise concerns about the issue. Link
US solar company Evergreen, once among the leaders of renewable energy technology, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The firm’s share price had fallen from highs of $113 in 2007 to just 18 cents, according to a Reuters report.

The Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), the collaboration of Australian and New Zealand investors with over A$600bn (€435bn) in funds under management, has expressed its dismay over a “misleading” anti carbon price campaign by industry associations and supported by large Australian companies. Link

The Plastic Disclosure Project, an initiative modeled on the Carbon Disclosure Project to raise awareness of plastic waste, is to go live in September. According to an item in the New York Times, companies globally will receive a questionnaire on their plastic use. “What we’re trying to do is to have companies manage and use plastic much more wisely, and to receive recognition for doing so from both customers and investors,” said project principal Doug Wooding. PDP site

US fund firms Calvert Investments and Walden Asset Management have written to companies that are members of the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers to end their opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions policy. It follows an open letter in January signed by 44 investors with $43bn of assets – to which just 15 responded. The investors’ position has been boosted by a recent Supreme Court decision.

Sustainable investment boutique SAM has highlighted the role of companies involved in fertilizers, mechanization and crop protection as higher crop yields are needed to support a growing global population. “Overall, investments in agricultural productivity will contribute to food security and should provide attractive returns, creating a win-win situation,” SAM says.

Barclays Infrastructure Funds, the arm of Barclays Capital with £1.2bn in funds under management, has bought a “significant share” of the 26MW Wadlow Wind Farm project in Cambridgeshire from developer RES (Renewable Energy Systems) Ltd for an undisclosed price. Construction began in June 2011, and full power generation is scheduled for October 2012. Link*The Future Fund, the A$75bn* (€54.4bn) Australian state investor, has emerged as the cornerstone institutional investor in a new A$600m agricultural fund being set up by PrimeAg Australia to invest in cropping properties and water entitlements. “PrimeAg confirms that the Future Fund…is the institutional investor,” the company said in a statement.

Insurance giant Allianz has said it plans to buy more wind farms and solar plants in a bid to boost investment returns. “We will continue to invest in renewable energy and we hope to make a number of investments in the second half of the year,” David Jones, chief executive of the Allianz Specialised Investments unit, was quoted as saying in an “ interview with Bloomberg News.

The Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund is focusing on “low- cost, differentiated” solar module producers who should be able to increase market share in a difficult market environment. As for wind, “We expect lower turbine prices to stimulate new demand from emerging markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the offshore wind market.” But a structural oversupply of turbines is expected for the rest of 2011 and into 2012. Link

The World Bank’s private finance arm the IFC is providing $15m in equity financing to Indian biomass power company Shalivahana Green Energy Ltd, to support expansion in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Tamil Nadu. IFC will also buy up to 1.5m Certified Emission Reductions from Shalivahana projects via its Post-2012 Carbon Facility. Announcement

Regime de rentes du Mouvement Desjardins, the C$5.5bn (€3.9bn) Canadian pension fund, has bought a 50% stake of the 150MW Harrison Hydro Project in British Columbia, via a partnership deal with infrastructure firm Connor, Clark & Lunn. Release

Impax Environmental Markets Plc, the closed-end trust focused on clean energy, water and waste, has disclosed new positions in clean tech firms Innergex, Boer Power and Norma Group in its latest half-year report. Among disposals was UK carbon trading firm Camco. Net assets declined by 4% to £435.3m (€494m) at the end of June, from £453.4m six months earlier.

Industry is more ready than investors to “act on the value and opportunity” in the new energy sector, says BlackRock New Energy Trust. Fund managers Robin Batchelor and Poppy Allonby cited the massive premium offered by gearbox maker ZF for Belgian wind turbine transmission manufacturer Hansen and Chesapeake’s $150m investment in Clean Energy Fuels Corp.