Environment, March 13: Norway fund buys into California water project

RI’s regular round-up of environmental investing news

Norges Bank Investment Management, which runs the NOK3.4trn (€456bn) Government Pension Fund, has disclosed a 4.68% stake in Nasdaq-listed water company Cadiz Inc. Cadiz is developing the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project to supply Southern California. It will capture and conserve groundwater currently being lost to evaporation from the aquifer system beneath its 34,000-acre property in the Mojave Desert.

The Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) will be launching its upcoming work plan in Singapore on March 26, the day before the ESG Asia conference 2012 at the Singapore Stock Exchange organized by Responsible Investor and Responsible Research. AIGCC was initiated by the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) in 2011 with seed funding from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Hong Kong and works as an Asia focused forum to address climate change and low carbon investment issues. Link to other events happening around ESG Asia

Four US natural gas companies – EOG Resources, Noble Energy, PennVirginia Corp. and Stone Energy – have responded to shareholder concerns and are improving transparency around the impacts of their hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations, say Miller/Howard Investments and Green Century Capital Management. The fund firms have consequently withdrawn shareholder resolutions, coordinated with the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), on the issue. Link

The Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) Institute has published a guide on fracking for investors. The 74-page Discovering Shale Gas: An Investor Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing was commissioned and funded by the IIRC and conducted by the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2).

The International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private finance institution, has delayed plans to make investments from its €150m Post2012 Carbon Facility, according to a report on Thomson Reuters’ Point Carbon citing the IFC’s Head of Carbon Finance Vikram Widge. It follows the collapse in carbon prices last year. The fund had been expected to catalyse up to $2bn of clean energy investment.Arise Windpower, the listed Swedish onshore wind energy firm, is considering issuing a corporate bond to give it “additional financial flexibility for continued growth”. Arise, which went public in 2010, has 139MW in operation and an additional 102MW under construction.

A green Islamic bond, or sukuk, working group has been set up by the Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association, the Clean Energy Business Council of the Middle East and North Africa, and the Climate Bonds Initiative. The group aims to channel market expertise to develop best practices and promote the issuance of sukuks for the financing of climate change investments and projects, such as renewable energy projects. Link

Nasdaq-listed solar and power tech firms Advanced Energy Industries and FuelCell Energy have been added to the exchange’s Clean Edge Green Energy Index, which tracks US listed clean-energy companies. Nine firms will be removed: Aixtron, Codexis, Hanwha, SolarOne, JinkoSolar, KiOR, Metabolix, SatCon Technology, Vicor and Valence Technology.

The Royal Bank of Canada says it has nearly C$1.7bn (€1.3bn) in loan and trading line exposures to companies whose predominant business is renewable energy, up from just over $1bn in 2009. “The emerging renewable energy sector promises both environmental benefits and business opportunities for the financial services sector,” RBC says in its new corporate responsibility report. It added it traded over 90m tonnes of carbon credits through RBC Capital Markets in 2011. Link

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation is to be based in Sydney, according to press reports citing Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The body, chaired by Reserve Bank of Australia board member Jillian Broadbent, is set to commence operations in 2013/14.

The Global Reporting Initiative has unveiled a new format for tagging data on corporate sustainability reports. The new system aims to make it easier for regulators, investors and analysts to find and analyze data. The free ‘GRI Taxonomy’ was developed in collaboration with Deloitte Netherlands. Link