Why SPACs will be key to the sustainability revolution

February 18, 2021 by  
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Why SPACs will be key to the sustainability revolution Andrew Shapiro Thu, 02/18/2021 – 02:11 Technology and finance have complementary histories of innovation, from the royal charters that launched the first global explorers to the early stock markets that fueled the industrial era. Today, the rise of SPACs is a capital markets innovation that matches the urgency and scope of our global sustainability challenges. For the uninitiated, SPACs — special purpose acquisition companies — are publicly listed entities that raise capital and then merge with a private growth company, providing that target company with the raised capital for further growth. After 21 years as a sustainability investor and strategist, I’ve enlisted a diverse team of veterans in our field to launch a SPAC . Although SPACs are not new, they have recently evolved and surged in number and account for about 60 percent of all new stock listings in the United States. In just the first six weeks of 2021, SPACs raised $33 billion, more than was raised by all SPACs before 2020. Electric vehicles have been one of the hottest categories for SPACs, as more than 24 EV-related companies agreed to go public via SPAC mergers over the last nine months. SPACs are pursuing a broad range of growth companies offering what we at Broadscale call “disruption for good” — transformative solutions that are cleaner, healthier, and more equitable. Some warn that this budding love affair could end badly, with the same kinds of disappointments we saw in the first cleantech boom during the 2000s. But we believe SPACs will be critical to meeting sustainability goals — and driving a long boom for investors — for a number of reasons. First, SPACs can quickly provide a fast-growing company with a large amount of capital at a certain valuation. Unlike a traditional IPO, in which companies must market their listings based solely on current financials, a SPAC merger can rely on future projections of revenue and profit, crucial for disruptors in change-resistant industries such as transportation, energy and food. A growing amount of venture capital backs world-positive breakthroughs , although not nearly enough private capital dedicated to scaling technologies that are already proven. SPACs can fill this gap — and thus justify more early-stage investment. Second, the growing number of sustainability SPACs offers investors more opportunities to back companies that match their values. ESG-minded institutional investors are allocating a record amount of capital to sustainable investments and SPACs enable the broadening of the investor base to consumers who want to invest in sustainability leaders. Mission-driven investors are more likely to embrace long-term value creation rather than the prevailing short-termism of quarterly earnings. They can provide patient capital more readily than VCs. And the results so far have been promising: ESG-oriented SPACs have been far outperforming traditional SPACs following their respective merger announcements with targets. As of Feb. 12, the median return for ESG SPACs from announcement (June 8) is 59.5 percent while the median return for other SPACs is 7.7 percent. Third, as public companies, SPAC targets will be more transparent and accountable, and better governed, than their private counterparts. Their boards will be more diverse due to new standards set by the Nasdaq and NYSE markets and states including California . They will have less tolerance for the practices of a founder such as Adam Neumann, who got the board of his private company WeWork to give him payouts that were criticized by governance experts when they finally came to light during the company’s failed IPO. Nikola Motors has been cited as an example of the dangers of SPACs because the company’s founding chairman was forced to resign when fraud allegations came to light just three months after it went public via a SPAC merger. Yet this is precisely the advantage of the public market: had Nikola continued to raise capital privately like so many other unicorns, the founder’s actions likely would have remained undisclosed for longer. Fourth, SPACs reward entrepreneurs in long-term alignment with investors. Until recently, most cleantech companies “exited” via sales to larger incumbents. A common problem with these buyouts is that the acquired company’s leaders stay for their earn-out and then depart as soon as they can, leaving behind unrealized impact and diminished value. To counter this, more incumbents are keeping acquisitions as stand-alone businesses so they can grow faster without bureaucracy — and their equity can continue to appreciate, benefiting both the acquirer and the startup team. Now, some incumbents are using SPAC mergers to go further: Engie, for example, just used a SPAC to spin-out EV Box, a charging business it acquired in 2017, which should incentivize the EV Box team to continue creating value for shareholders including Engie. SPACs are not a panacea for every growth company or the only form of innovative finance driving sustainability, and they will need to evolve with the market. But as we radically reorder how our society moves, lives, builds, eats and more, we will need to deploy unprecedented amounts of capital to scale sustainable technologies. We’ll want investment structures that offer opportunities for all investors, good corporate governance and strong incentives for successful entrepreneurs. SPACs are a timely innovation to achieve these goals. Topics Finance & Investing Innovation Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Why SPACs will be key to the sustainability revolution

From the boardroom to Wall Street, ESG is crucial for financial resilience

February 18, 2021 by  
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From the boardroom to Wall Street, ESG is crucial for financial resilience Julia Travers Thu, 02/18/2021 – 00:45 The ongoing shift to center ESG is driven by multiple forces. Chief among them are a rising demand from the public for transparency and purpose in business and a growing awareness among corporations that sustainability is integral to financial health, according to participants at GreenBiz 21.  As diverse business stakeholders adjust to the climate crisis, social justice movements and a global pandemic, sustainable investing tactics are increasingly proven to benefit companies’ stability and profitability. In the first, COVID-stricken quarter of 2020, 89 percent of Morningstar’s ESG-screened indexes outperformed their broad market equivalents. And ESG-focused investment funds took in a record $347 billion in 2020. Among the many timely conversations during GreenBiz 21 were sessions that explored how boards can govern amid disruptive risks and the view of ESG from Wall Street. Both conversations framed ESG as crucial for financial survival and success. How boards can manage disruptive risk Two key takeaways from a discussion about board-level responsibility for ESG issues were that ESG fluency is an essential component of successful contemporary risk management for boards, and that, while boards have made some progress toward embracing sustainability principles within their purview, they still have a way to go. The speakers agreed more boards must recognize that ESG metrics and financial concerns are not disparate.  Veena Ramani, senior program director of capital market systems for Ceres, said “companies, particularly large companies, are really, really, really good risk managers. But the problem is, data out is only as good as data in — environmental and social issues are not being processed through the enterprise risk management systems, through scenario analysis. So obviously, the board is not going to get the analytics to make smart decisions. I hope people realize that they need to have a broader approach to risk management and broaden the scope of what goes up the board.”  I think the partnership with the CFO is incredibly important, the partnership with investor relations because sustainability goes to the heart of performance. To emerge from the pandemic and survive long term, ESG needs to be integrated into everything that a company is doing from a strategic and operational perspective, noted Douglas Chia, former executive director of The Conference Board ESG Center and now president of Soundboard Governance. Are boards ready to take on this task? Kathrin Winkler, a former CSO, CW Partners consultant and GreenBiz editor at large, asked, “Are boards ESG-literate?” “Largely, probably not,” responded D’Anne Hurd, independent trustee with Pax World Funds and former senior financial management executive at GTE and PepsiCo.  While Hurd has seen some progress in this regard, the first question she often receives from board members is, “What is ESG?” She said, “They better wake up,” mentioning that consumers, suppliers, employees and investors are pushing for greater ESG fluency and action.  Ramani said the Biden administration’s priorities will push ESG even further into the foreground. Both Hurd and Ramani pointed to a class offered by Ceres and Berkeley Law, “ESG: Navigating the Board’s Role,” as a relevant resource.  The view from Wall Street The importance of embracing the confluence of the ESG and financial realms is a trend Martina Cheung, president of S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global, increasingly sees in her work. She noted in a GreenBiz 21 keynote interview: “Whether it’s climate risk, social equity governance and stronger representation from government … as we see that play out; the real effects of that on the markets, on companies’ performance, on sectors … our clients are turning to us and saying, ‘What information do you have that can help us as we have to make decisions, as we have to comply with regulations, as we look to raise capital?’” One important factor is the movement to standardize ESG reporting, according to Cheung. She thinks achieving a single set of standards is still a few years away but pointed to some promising convergences. Among them, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s proposal to develop ESG standards is “critical,” Cheung said.  One way sustainability professionals inside big companies can help investors traverse the ESG path is by spending more time collaborating with their peers in the corporate finance function, she said. “I think the partnership with the CFO is incredibly important, the partnership with investor relations because sustainability goes to the heart of performance.”  Pull Quote I think the partnership with the CFO is incredibly important, the partnership with investor relations because sustainability goes to the heart of performance. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy ESG GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Collage based on Unsplash images

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From the boardroom to Wall Street, ESG is crucial for financial resilience

A Roadmap for Best of Class Circular Partnerships

September 14, 2020 by  
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A Roadmap for Best of Class Circular Partnerships How can companies navigate internal and external roadblocks in order to unlock circular advancement? Fueled by consumer activism and investor demand, the transition from a linear to a circular economy is disrupting how the private sector conventionally positions its sustainability agenda. Traditionally siloed in a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), the infusion of circular economy into sustainability has provided companies a platform to unlock financial value and demonstrate ROI, while appealing to a broad range of diverse stakeholders. For many companies however, the rapid shift to a circular platform is causing tension in how a company prioritizes, partners and communicates sustainability and circular economy initiatives both internally and externally. To ensure that companies are aligned on their sustainability, shared value and philanthropic initiatives, this discussion will address: How to identify and overcome internal barriers that prohibit progress on circular economy goals. Insights into the internal silos around sustainability/corporate responsibility that exist in the corporate space that stifle innovation, grow distrust and potentially can cause financial harm to the company. Best practices on integrating circular economy initiatives into the corporate ecosystem to drive internal alignment, innovation and external partnerships. Internal corporate value chain biases (Finance, Sustainability, CSR and Corporate Foundation) How to build successful corporate and nonprofit circular partnerships. Speakers John Holm, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, PYXERA Global Vivien Luk, Executive Director, Work Katrina Shum, Sustainability Officer, North America, Lush Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 10:22 Featured Off

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Forging a Resilient Circular Supply Chain

September 14, 2020 by  
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Forging a Resilient Circular Supply Chain Where should supply chain management and circular strategy overlap, and how can your supply chain advance the circular economy? From repair and remanufacturing to material reclamation, there are numerous ways to fold circular principles into your company’s supply chain. But what does it take to build these circular initiatives throughout a dispersed supply chain? What ROI can these changes afford? Can a circular supply chain hold more resiliency than its linear counterpart? Join this session to hear from companies forging robust, resilient, circular supply chains. Learn about the challenges they’ve faced as well as the risk mitigation and value they’ve seen as reward. Speakers Stephanie Potter, Executive Director, Sustainability and Circular Economy, US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Deborah Dull, Product Leader, GE Digital George Richter, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Cox Communications, Inc. James McCall, Senior Director, Global Climate and Supply Chain Sustainability, Procter & Gamble This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 20, August 25-27, 2020. Holly Secon Mon, 09/14/2020 – 09:39 Featured Off

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This country was recently ranked as the world’s most sustainable

July 10, 2015 by  
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A new study proclaims Sweden to be the world’s most sustainable country. Yes, the land that gave birth to IKEA has beaten out everyone other country on the planet–and Norway is a close second. The investment company RobecoSAM evaluated 60 countries on a broad range of environmental, social and governance factors. Read on to learn more. Read the rest of This country was recently ranked as the world’s most sustainable Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable development” , china , egypt , norway , renewable energy , sustainable countries list , Sweden , Switzerland , Thailand

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This country was recently ranked as the world’s most sustainable

GreenerGreenGrass’ Slug Shield Keeps Slimy Visitors Away from Your Plants Naturally

March 20, 2012 by  
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If you’re sick of snails and slugs making a meal out of your garden, but also can’t fathom poisoning those slimy little guys, then GreenerGreenGrass ‘ Slug Shield could be the natural deterrent you’ve been looking for. The Slug Shield uses coiled copper to repel slugs and snails both physically and electrochemically, without adding toxins to the environment or killing them off. By wrapping a Slug Shield around the base of plants, pots, and greenhouse table legs, you can repel slugs year-round. And unlike copper tape, the Slug Shield expands with plant growth so the product only needs to be applied one time and does not damage stalks. The shield works on a variety of plants, including citrus trees, orchids, dahlias, hostas, and a broad range of vegetables . + GreenerGreenGrass The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags:

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GreenerGreenGrass’ Slug Shield Keeps Slimy Visitors Away from Your Plants Naturally

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