Growth in Socially Responsible Investing & Banking

A new report by US SIF, the association for socially responsible investment (SRI) professionals and institutions, shows that assets in SRI continue to rise in the United States. More and more investors are clearly realizing that their long-term financial well-being is best served through investments in companies that pay attention to their social and environmental impacts and that have sound corporate governance. Likewise, use of banks and credit unions dedicated to community development is also on the rise. These are great signs for moving our economy in the direction needed!

The new research tracks an increase of 22% in SRI from 2009 to 2011, bringing professionally managed SRI assets to in the US to $3.74 trillion as of December 31, 2011. The findings, announced yesterday in the 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, indicate that SRI now constitutes 11.23% of all US, professionally-managed assets. Significantly, community development banks showed an increase of 74% and community development credit unions showed an increase of 54%.

If you have not yet switched to a community development bank or credit union – now is the time to join the increasing number of people using financial institutions that support people and the planet! Visit www.BreakUpWithYourMegaBank.org for tips on how to “break up” with your conventional bank and find a better bank that meets your needs while supporting communities from coast to coast. We’ve added even more banking options to our GreenPages Online – so also check-out greenamerica.org/go/banking to find a bank or credit union that works for you!

Green America Supports GMO Labeling in California

This fall, California voters can cast their votes in favor of full disclosure for their foods.  Proposition 37 will be on the ballot, and a “yes” vote will require food companies to disclose genetically modified (GMO) ingredients on product labeling.

Green America enthusiastically supports a “yes” vote on Proposition 37. Consumers have a right to know what is in their food, and genetically modified foods pose potential health risks to consumers.

Despite the assurances of the largest players in the food industry, GMO’s are not proven to be healthy and safe. As Green America recently reported, studies on animals demonstrate that GMOs create disturbing and long-term negative health impacts.  Recent studies implicate GMOs in causing negative human health impacts, including a role in accelerating obesity.

In addition, GMOs have negative environmental impacts, including the increased use of pesticides and contamination of non-GMO crops.  Finally, GMO crops have caused hardship to family farmers here in the U.S., whose crops have been contaminated with genetically modified seeds.  They have also harmed famers in the developing world, who were promised greater yields with GMO seeds, but who ended up in increasing debt instead (to read more about the problems of GMOs and to learn which foods to avoid, please read the FrankenFoods issue of the Green American magazine).

Green America supports labeling of GMO foods at the national level, and is a proud supporter of the Just Label It! Campaign.  Our members were part of the one million plus signatures sent to the FDA in support of GMO labeling. We also support labeling at the state level, and if California voters enact GMO food labeling in November, it will likely mean that foods all across the United States will be labeled (since California is such an important market).

Large food companies (including Monsanto, Dupont, and Pepsi) have already poured $25 million into the campaign to defeat Proposition 37.  They claim that food labeling will raise the cost of food.  This is clearly a specious argument.  What food labeling will do is reduce the number of people who buy their products and therefore reduce their profits. The simple answer to that is for major food companies to offer non-GMO products for customers who want them.  Green America will use its voice to encourage major corporations, including those with organic subsidiaries, to expand GMO labeling practices to cover all their product offerings

Clearly human and environmental health should take precedence over corporate profits.  We urge all Green America individual and business members to support Proposition 37.

Clean Energy Victory Bonds introduced as legislation!

The campaign for Clean Energy Victory Bonds has made an exciting leap forward!

Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) and 10 cosponsors introduced HR 6275, the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2012, to the House of Representatives.  The bill is supported by Green America and already has over 40 institutional endorsers  and thousands of individual supporters as well.

Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVBs) are proposed U.S. Treasury bonds modeled after Victory Bonds sold during the First and Second World Wars.  During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased Victory Bonds that generated $185 billion (over $2 trillion in today’s dollars) for the war effort.  Today, in the search for new clean energy sources, America faces the same sense of urgency to find a national solution.  Through the same patriotism demonstrated during WWII, CEVBs would allow Americans to invest billions of dollars in clean energy.  All Americans could participate in this investment towards the future of clean energy, energy independence, and job creation as the bonds could be available for as little as $25.

CEVBs would extend the US Government’s support for clean energy programs that have created hundreds of thousands, or even millions of jobs, and dramatically increased clean energy installations nationwide.   Unfortunately, these government programs are expiring or already expired. For example, the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which has been a major driver of wind power in the US, is about to expire this year.

CEVBs would allow for the continuation of the PTC as well as many other clean energy incentives for another decade.  CEVBs would finance the research and manufacturing of solar, wind, geothermal, second generation biofuels, electric vehicles and energy efficiency.  In short, the benefits of Clean Energy Victory Bonds include:

-Uniting individuals, communities, and companies to help finance the rapid deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency upgrades.

-Enabling anyone with savings to help put new renewable projects on the ground, with an investment of as little as $25.

-Creating a safe investment for Americans that pays a competitive rate of return.

-Helping to create an estimated 1.7 million new jobs in manufacturing, deploying, and maintaining renewable energy development projects.

We’re now calling on all Americans to tell their Representatives in Washington to support CEVBs.  Please contact your elected representative to let them know you want them to support H.R. 6275.  A sample phone script and constituent email can be found on the CEVB website.

We need your help to mobilize nationwide support for Clean Energy Victory Bonds and a clean energy economy!

Thanks to Katie Fletcher for research and writing of this post

Citi’s Sandy Weill Now Sees Problems with Banks Too Big to Fail

In what the Huffington Post today called “a stunning reversal,” Sandy Weill, the former Citigroup CEO, now believes that the mega-banks need to be broken-up into smaller banks for the financial system to work properly.

Now that vast sums have been lost, people’s lives impoverished, and legislative efforts to better regulate banks have been weakened, Weill, the long-time champion of the “too big to fail” system says “What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, and have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not going to be too big to fail.”

This comes years too late, of course, following economic devastation for many and ridiculous levels of wealth-building for the few.

But it’s still a good time to break-up with your mega-bank if you are using one – and to switch to a community development bank or credit union. Pledge to move your money – and find new banking options – at www.BreakUpWithYourMegaBank.org  You’ll be glad you did!

Rep. Waters Is Right: Wall St. Needs to Support Financial Reform

Following the JP Morgan debacle in which $2 billion, no wait, $3 billion has been lost due to risky bets, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) makes the following requests of all financial industry executives in a recent blog posting:

  • Stop undermining the Dodd-Frank legislation
  • Stop pressuring regulators to weaken rules
  • Publicly declare support and full funding for the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission so they can exercise needed oversight

She notes that “big banks will fight against regulation, even when it is in their own best interests.” How true….and how dangerous.

Leave your big bank today: www.BreakUpWithYourMegaBank.org

 

Yet Another Mega-Bank Debacle…Move Your Money Now!

The latest mega-bank debacle, JP Morgan Chase’s loss of at least $2 billion within several weeks, is yet another example of the problem with banks deemed too big to fail. The nation’s largest financial firm in terms of assets, JP Morgan has fought important banking regulation while it obviously needed tough regulation to protect investors and the health of our economy. Learn more from the Center for Responsive Politics about the bank’s lobbying sums that are in the top tier of its industry.

Of course, JP Morgan happily took billions of dollars from the government – our tax payer money – when it needed a bailout. And now this?!

Two lawsuits have now been filed inManhattanfederal court against the bank and CEO Jamie Dimon, one by a trust and another by an individual investor.

JP Morgan Chase is one of the mega-banks featured in Green America’s Break Up With Your Mega-Bank Tool Kit – available as a free download at www.BreakUpWithYourMegaBank.org.  If you haven’t ended your unhealthy banking relationship with JP Morgan yet – now is the time! Use our website for pointers on ensuring a smooth break-up and for finding a community development bank or credit union whose values you can trust.

 

 

Strategy #7: Recognizing and Integrating the Informal Economy

The booklet “Saving the Titanic” was originally published by Paul Freundlich, founder of Green America (formerly Co-op America).   It contains a dozen green strategies for our society to avoid the “icebergs” of climate change, nuclear catastrophe, economic collapse, and other ills.  Today, we excerpt Solution #7, and over the coming days, we’ll share the rest of Paul’s solutions:

In the poorer nations of the world, GNP ignores the self-sufficiency of communities, barter, and financial transactions that are undocumented and untaxed. The scale of these transactions ranges from growing one‘s own food and trading chickens for medical care, to prostitution and the drug trade. The traditional charm of the informal economy—reliance on personal trust and strengthening of community relationships—is almost as well-documented as the risks: usury, exploitation and violence. More dependable, institutional protocols may be worth giving up invisibility. In the past few decades, community investment vehicles like the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh have found mutual assurance for lending as a reasonable and reliable way of transferring money to support community entrepreneurship. A more mainstream example of the transition has been the inroads to lucrative gambling by casinos and government-sponsored lotteries.

Continue reading “Strategy #7: Recognizing and Integrating the Informal Economy”