An update from Doug Phelps, president and executive director of The Public Interest Network
Green Century,° the family of green investment funds owned by groups in The Public Interest Network, has hit a major milestone: more than $1 billion in assets under management.
That number is just one way of measuring Green Century’s accomplishments.
Back in 1991, when Green Century began, it was a novel idea that an American nonprofit could start and run its own mutual fund, and the notion that investors could — or would — save for the future without compromising their environmental values was relatively untested.
Green Century set out to prove both points, seeking opportunities to invest in corporate sustainability leaders while screening out coal companies, the nuclear power industry and other environmentally irresponsible actors.
In 2014, Green Century raised the standard for environmentally responsible investing, offering the first family of fossil fuel-free, diversified and responsible mutual funds: no investments in any company with proven carbon reserves; nor any company that explores for, extracts, processes, refines or transmits coal, oil or gas; nor any utility that burns fossil fuels to generate electricity. A sustainable investment strategy which incorporates environmental, social and governance criteria may result in lower or higher returns than an investment strategy that does not include such criteria.
According to the U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing, across the entire mutual fund industry, one in four dollars are now invested in strategies that take into consideration “ESG,” or environmental, social and governance ratings. Just two years ago, that ratio was one in five dollars. We’re proud that Green Century has done its part to contribute to this growth.
Green Century’s impact also includes its own award-winning shareholder advocacy program. Recent results include:
- zero-deforestation policies adopted by major buyers of palm oil, such as Kellogg’s,* Starbucks* and Target*; two of the world’s largest grain traders, including Archer Daniels Midland*; and Wilmar,* the world’s largest palm oil producer;
- a 2019 commitment from Verizon* to source 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025; and
- a 2021 commitment from The Coca-Cola Company*, named the most plastic-polluting company on the planet for three consecutive years, to reduce its cumulative use of virgin plastic by 3 million metric tons by 2025.
There’s one more way that Green Century is unique: 100 percent of its profits can be used by The Public Interest Network organizations that own it. This revenue stream lets groups such as MASSPIRG and CALPIRG make an even bigger difference in our advocacy and organizing work.
The Green Century story is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and supporters. Congratulations to Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich and the rest of the team. Special thanks to Green Century’s first president, Mindy Lubber; second president, Amy Perry Basseches; longtime vice president, Kris Curtis; and trustees including Doug Husid, Jim Starr, Jonathan Darnell and Mary Raftery (among many others) who have dedicated their time, talent and energy to building Green Century. Please feel free to follow up with me or Leslie at [email protected] if you have any thoughts or questions about Green Century.
Whether you’re an investor or not, as a friend and supporter of The Public Interest Network, you’ve helped make this success possible. Thank you.