Too many thought leaders, not enough thought


Impact Investing has been experiencing quite an explosion of interest by asset owners, asset managers and service providers. Parallel with this there has been a dramatic increase in the number of “thought leaders” or “experts” on Impact Investing. You see them on TV, in newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. Many only started in this space a few years ago. When I read or listen to what they say, I find a lack of deep thought or reflection.

Why don’t we see more of Lester Brown, the yoda of sustainable thinking, as it relates to investment risk and opportunity. Lester Brown and his team, don’t get the attention they so richly deserve.  His writings, research, efforts have been a great inspiration to me and to many others working in the financial, policy, and industry. I recently received a summary of developments regarding “Fuel Free” or Renewable Energy. Take a look and then you will understand what a thought leader is.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Abraham Lincoln

Seven Surprising Realities Behind The Great Transition to Renewable Energy © Earth Policy Release May 13, 2015

The global transition to clean, renewable energy and away from nuclear and fossils is well under way, with remarkable developments happening every day. The Great Transitionby Lester Brown, Janet Larsen, Matt Roney, and Emily Adams lays out a tremendous range of these developments.

1.Solar is now so cheap that global adoption appears unstoppable.
• The price of solar photovoltaic panels has declined 99 percent over the last four decades, from $74 a watt in 1972 to less than 70 cents a watt in 2014.
• Between 2009 and 2014, solar panel prices dropped by three fourths, helping global PV installations grow 50 percent per year.

2.Wind power adoption is rapidly altering energy portfolios around the world.
• Over the past decade, world wind power capacity grew more than 20 percent a year, its increase driven by its many attractive features, by public policies supporting its expansion, and by falling costs.
• By the end of 2014, global wind generating capacity totaled 369,000 megawatts, enough to power more than 90 million U.S. homes. Wind currently has a big lead on solar PV, which has enough worldwide capacity to power roughly 30 million U.S. homes.

3.National and subnational energy policies are promoting renewables, and many geographies are considering a price on carbon.
• Unfortunately, governments worldwide still subsidized the fossil fuel industry with over $600 billion, giving this aging industry five times the subsidy that went to renewables.
• But by the start of 2014, some 70 countries, including many in Europe, were using feed-in tariffs to encourage investment in renewables.
4.The financial sector is embracing renewables – and starting to turn against fossils and nuclear.
• The financial services firm Barclays downgraded the entire U.S. electricity sector in 2014, in part because in its view U.S. utilities are generally unprepared for the challenges posed by distributed solar power and battery storage.
• In January 2013, Warren Buffett gave solar energy a huge financial boost when his MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company announced an investment of up to $2.5 billion in California in what is now known as the Solar Star project..

5.Coal use is in decline in the United States and will likely fall at the global level far sooner than once thought possible.
• U.S. coal use is dropping – it fell 21 percent between 2007 and 2014  and more than one-third of the nation’s coal plants have already closed or announced plans for future closure in the last five years.
• Major U.S. coal producers, such as Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, have seen their market values drop by 61 and 94 percent, respectively, as of September 2014.

6.Transportation will move away from oil as electric vehicle fleets expand rapidly and bike- and car-sharing spreads.
• Bike-sharing programs have sprung up worldwide in recent years. More than 800 cities in 56 countries now have fully operational bike-share programs, with over 1 million bikes.
• The share of carless households increased in 84 out of 100 U.S. urban areas surveyed between 2006 and 2011. And as urbanization increases, this share will only rise.

7.Nuclear is on the rocks thanks to rising costs and widespread safety concerns.
• For the world as a whole, nuclear power generation peaked in 2006, and dropped by nearly 14 percent by 2014.
• In the United States, the country with the most reactors, nuclear generation peaked in 2010 and is now also on the decline.

Chapter 1 of The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy is available online

Two weeks to go. First TBLI CONFERENCE LATIN AMERICA, hosted by Mayor’s Office Buenos Aires. Program

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Relations are not cattle


I am often asked for introductions to investors or thought leaders. If the project meets TBLI’s mission and the person behind the project has high integrity, then I am often happy to connect people. Sometimes this works out and provides financial, social and environmental returns, sometimes it doesn’t. Ultimately, the experience enriches both.

Lately, when I ask relations for an introduction because I am doing a road show, the reception is not as warm. Too many people see their relations as cattle, that they own. The more that they keep to themselves, the more they think they will have. Untrue. The more you share, the more you will ultimately have.

Let’s connect those that would benefit from those connection and not calculate what is the short term ROI, that you are not getting. Ultimately we all benefit.

Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

See you all at the next TBLI


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TBLI ASIA & Whacko People


Last week we held our first TBLI CONFERENCE ASIA  in Singapore. I had a fantastic experience, as did those who attended. Many came up to me who had attended TBLI in the past or who had never attended and were very impressed with the event and the quality of the people they met.

I particularly remember one person, who was invited by his friend to attend. This gentleman was very engaging with everyone he met and had worked in the real estate and hotel business for quite a while. We sat together over lunch and he leaned over to his friend, who had invited him and said “This has been great. Finally, you introduce me to intelligent, professional, authentic people. No whackos.”

I guess that is the best testimonial you can get.

Testimonials

Dear Robert,

..I’m delighted with the quality of both the content and the audience for the first TBLI/Insead event in Asia….I found that I and most of my fellow participants both learned a lot and made valuable new connections.  Thanks very much for your and your team’s efforts to make the event a success and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Ian Potter
Distinguished Fellow 
Insead

Hi Robert / Stephanie / Tiffany

It was great to meet you all and your team. I am impressed by TBLI value based culture and dedication to your mission.

Will be a pleasure and privilege to support you all in any way.

Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors and look forward to be in touch.

Safe travels. Best Regards

Lalit Matai
Operating Partner
Tau Investment Management

It was excellent! I did now know what to expect. I am sure it will be much bigger next time, but will regret it. We became almost like a “family”, so easy to reach out and talk with delegates. Got many hints and contacts. The presentations and the moderators where high class to the seminaries I went to. I also liked very much Robert’s introductory speech. Thank You.Anonymous

Upcoming Events:

We are particularly excited about the upcoming TBLI CONFERENCES. I want to particularly thank the sponsors that have committed to supporting us this year. If you want to be added to this list, contact me.

City of Buenos Aires
Insead
Copenhagen Business School
FMO
BNY Mellon
Triodos Investment Management
ASN Bank
AXA Investment Managers
Sparinvest
Nasdaq
Asia Capital Enterprises
Vietnam Holding
City Development
Hedblom
Wildlife Works
Aqal Capital
TBLI CONFERENCE LATIN AMERICA May 28-29, 2015 Invitation only (no costs). Hosted by City of Buenos Aires.


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Earth Day, Drones and Arthur Rubinstein


I was in Monterey to give a talk on Commercialising ESG and Impact Investing at the Monterey Institute, last week. I really enjoyed being in Monterey and meeting the audience of students and professors, who were all looking to align their personal values with their career. Thank you Yuwei, Erina, and Sarah for the invitation and hospitality.

TBLI ASIA

Next week TBLI ASIA will be held in Singapore, on April 29-30. Come join us. Our keynote speakers Arvind Narula and Ibrahim AlHusseini will inspire you with their vision and amazing projects. Meet many of the thought leaders in ESG and Impact Investing and learn why is there so much interest.

I would be grateful if you would register and/or forward this link or one pager to your network for those who would like to join us. TBLI CONFERENCE ASIA 2015, 29 & 30 April 2015, Singapore

“TBLI is a battery charger event. It’s an event that makes you realize how outdated your thinking has become. It is a crash course, a mini green investing MBA. It’s an energizing place – it’s got a critical role in diffusing the best practice”
Leo Johnson (PWC Partner and BBC Presenter Presenter of the BBC World News programmes “Down to Business” and “One Square Mile”.)

TBLI:Where Investors Meet and Deals Get Done.

Earth Day

My brother, Arthur Rubinstein, had his birthday on Earth Day. Happy Birthday. When we grew up on Brooklyn there was no Earth Day, just Arthur’s special day.  Now we can celebrate both. Hope you enjoyed yourself in a low carbon manner.

Climate Change

Saw a great scalable solution in sequestering carbon through massive tree planing. Bio Engineering wants to plant 1 billion trees a year through the use of drones.


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