Green Century’s Top 10 Highlights from 2019
From our award-winning shareholder advocacy work to protect tropical forests and curb antibiotic misuse to our support for the environmental and public health campaigns of our nonprofit owners and partners, Green Century had an environmental impact in 2019. Here are our top 10 highlights:
10. The Green Century MSCI International Index Fund turned 3
On September 30, 2019, the Green Century MSCI International Index Fund –the first fossil fuel free, diversified, and responsible international index fund available to U.S. investors – celebrated its third anniversary.
We launched the International Fund as a way for investors concerned about the environment to diversify their holdings, and the investor response demonstrates that our assessment of the marketplace was correct. The International Fund has grown to more than $67 million in assets under management, as of September 30, 2019.
The International Fund is invested in the stocks of about 175 large- and mid-cap companies headquartered in 22 developed markets, including Japan, Germany, France, Canada, Switzerland, and 17 additional countries. It does not invest in companies in the U.S. or emerging markets.
9. Green Century recognized
In November, Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich was presented with the prestigious 2019 SRI Service Award, the highest honor conferred at the annual SRI Conference, the premier socially responsible investing industry event in the U.S.
The SRI Service Award recognizes an “individual who has demonstrated leadership, innovation, high standards of professional conduct, and accomplishment in collaboration with other SRI industry leaders.”
“I am honored to receive the SRI Service Award,” said Samuelrich. “I am proud of the work Green Century has done to advance fossil fuel free investing and foster the transition to a clean energy economy. Our work is the product of our deep commitment to sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and its ability to motivate corporate action and achieve real environmental impact. It’s gratifying to see our work recognized.”
In October, Green Century Shareholder Advocate Jessye Waxman was selected for the inaugural SRI Conference 30 Under 30 List.
Ms. Waxman leads our efforts to protect tropical forests. In this role, she leverages our status as an investor to directly press companies to mitigate their exposure to the material financial, operational, and reputational risks related to deforestation.
In the last year, she engaged 36 companies on their deforestation-related risks and successfully pressed two Fortune 500 companies to develop and implement no-deforestation policies.
8. Progress on curbing the misuse of medically-important antibiotics
Following a multi-year engagement with Green Century, Darden Restaurants, Inc.,* the largest casual dining operator in the U.S., announced in March that it was adopting a policy to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics in its chicken supply chain by 2023.
In 2018, for the third consecutive year, we filed an antibiotic-use shareholder proposal with Darden. The proposal received a noteworthy 40.2% support of votes cast, at the company’s September 2018 annual meeting.
In August, we commended Jack in the Box* for fulfilling its commitment – one year ahead of schedule – to only serve poultry raised without the use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention
7. Promoted disarmament and nuclear-free investing
For more than two decades, Green Century has explicitly prohibited investment in nuclear energy and nuclear weapons in its prospectus.
This robust nuclear-free commitment has earned us recognition, for two consecutive years, as a “Hall of Fame” financial institution in Don’t Bank on the Bomb, the annual report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, and PAX. Last year, we were the first firm in the U.S. to be selected for the Hall of Fame.
As part of our nuclear-free commitment, in October, we sponsored a special concert honoring Hiroshima survivor and life-long disarmament activist Setsuko Thurlow. Proceeds from the concert supported the nuclear abolition work of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War & the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility.
6. A surge in renewable energy sourcing
In January, we withdrew a shareholder resolution with Verizon Communications, Inc., * the largest telecommunications company in the U.S., after the company announced a commitment to source the equivalent of 50% of its annual electricity usage from renewable sources by 2025.
Prior to our engagement, Verizon had planned to source 4% of its electricity from renewables.
Verizon’s new commitment will prevent the annual release of approximately 2.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking nearly 500,000 cars off the road.
Green Century also provided support for the 100% Renewable Energy campaign, aimed at convincing 10 states to adopt 100% clean and renewable energy timelines, of our nonprofit owners and partners.
Already, the 100% Renewable Energy campaign has helped push seven states to adopt 100% zero-carbon electricity legislation: Virginia (September), Maine (June), New York (June), Washington State (May), New Mexico (March), California (2018), and Hawaii (2015). (Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have made similar commitments.)
The campaign marches on Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota; and we continue to support it.
5. Continued support for nonprofit owners
Green Century is one of a kind. Truly. We are the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
This means that 100% of the profits we earn from managing our Funds can be used to support the work of our nonprofit owners to protect the environment and public health. No other mutual fund can match this kind of environmental impact.
In 2019, we supported a number of specific environmental and public health campaigns, including Wildlife over Waste, which aims to ban take-out plastic foam cups and containers to protect birds, fish, and other wildlife from the harm caused by needless plastic pollution.
The campaign already has helped convince Maine, Maryland, Vermont, and Oregon to ban polystyrene.
4. Mushrooming market for plant-based protein
In June, we filed a shareholder proposal with Kraft Heinz,* regarding the company’s failure to adopt a long-term strategy to diversify its protein products; and in September, we presented the proposal at the company’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh.
The proposal received a lot of media attention, earning coverage in Reuters, The New York Times, Responsible Investor, S&P Global Market Intelligence, and more.
Green Century remains the only investor in the U.S. to file a shareholder proposal related to alternative protein, having filed the first-ever plant-based protein proposal with Tyson Foods* in 2016.
3. Investors continue to choose to go fossil fuel free
For 40 years, oil and gas companies have misled the public and their shareholders about climate change and the risk it poses to the planet.
In a June op-ed in Responsible Investor, Samuelrich made the case that investors who care about the planet should stop supporting the corporations most to blame for the climate crisis.
As the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the U.S., Green Century helped pave the way for the divestment movement – and investors continue to join it. Already, almost 60,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations have pledged to go fossil fuel free. To help them, we recently published a new guide to fossil fuel free investing: Making A Clean Break: Ethical Investing For A Sustainable Future.
2. Continued work to protect tropical forests – and glimmers of progress
Overall, 2019 was not a great year for the world’s tropical forests. In the summer, the world watched in horror as hundreds of preventable, man-made fires ravaged the Amazon, one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems.
As the leading global investor in the effort to protect tropical forests, Green Century is committed to combating climate change, preserving necessary habitat for endangered species, and mitigating potential financial risks for investors through ending deforestation.
More than 450 global corporations have made no-deforestation commitments and our shareholder advocacy team is actively working to press the most relevant of those companies to recommit to the public and their suppliers that they will not purchase commodities linked to deforestation.
In December, we called for the continuation of the Amazon Soy Moratorium, which has been instrumental in significantly reducing deforestation in the Amazon – at least until recent months – and is under attack by agricultural producers in Brazil, just as deforestation pushes the Amazon to an irreversible tipping point.
Earlier in the year, we collaborated with Aramark,* one of the world’s largest food service companies, to develop a robust no-deforestation policy that will cover its entire global supply chain and include legal deforestation. We also convinced Kroger,* the largest grocery chain in the U.S., to develop and implement a no-deforestation policy for its private label products.
1. Our investors
As in previous years, our primary 2019 highlight was the continued support of our investors. None of our work would be possible without you.
It’s heartening that individuals increasingly are choosing to align their investments with their values – and its especially gratifying that so many are choosing to do it with us. Between 2015 and 2018, Green Century’s assets under management swelled by 105%.
By leveraging our status as an investor, we were able to achieve a real environmental impact in 2019. We’re ready to do it again in 2020!
*As of September 30, 2019, Darden Restaurants, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.12%, and 0.00%, Jack in the Box, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.02%, and 0.00%, Verizon Communications, Inc. comprised 2.86%, 1.99%, and 0.00%, The Kraft Heinz Company comprised 0.00%, 0.15%, and 0.00%, Aramark comprised 0.00%, 0.08%, and 0.00%, and Kroger, Co. comprised 0.00%, 0.17%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century MSCI International Index Fund, respectively. Other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios as of the same date. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or the distributor.
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The MSCI World ex USA Index is a custom index calculated by MSCI Inc. The MSCI World ex USA Index includes large and mid-cap stocks across 22 of 23 Developed Markets (DM) countries and excludes the United States. With 1,023 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country. The MSCI World ex USA Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index. It is not possible to invest directly in the MSCI World ex USA Index.
The MSCI World ex USA SRI ex Fossil Fuels Index (the World ex USA SRI ex Fossil Fuels Index or the Index) is a custom index calculated by MSCI Inc. and is comprised of the common stocks of the companies in the MSCI World ex USA SRI Index (the World ex USA SRI Index), minus the stocks of the companies that explore for, extract, produce, manufacture or refine coal, oil or gas or produce or transmit electricity derived from fossil fuels or transmit natural gas or have carbon reserves that are included in the World ex USA SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) Index. The World ex USA SRI Index includes large and mid-cap stocks from approximately 22 developed markets countries (excluding the U.S.). The World ex USA SRI Index is a capitalization weighted index that provides exposure to companies that have positive Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings and excludes companies whose products have negative social or environmental impacts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.
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