Eco-investing or green investing, is a form of socially responsible investing where investments are made in companies that support or provide environmentally friendly products and practices. These companies encourage (and often profit from) new technologies that support the transition from carbon dependence to more sustainable alternatives.
As industries' environmental impacts become more apparent, green topics have not only taken center stage in pop culture, but the financial world as well. In the 1990s many investors “began to look for those companies that were better than their competitors in terms of managing their environmental impact.” While some investors still focus their funds to avoid only “the most egregious polluters,” the emphasis for many investors has switched to changing “the way money is used,” and using “it in a positive, transformative way to get us from where we are now ultimately to a truly sustainable society.”
The Global Climate Prosperity Scoreboard – launched by Ethical Markets Media and The Climate Prosperity Alliance to monitor private investments in green companies – estimated that over $1.248 trillion has been invested in solar, wind, geothermal, ocean/hydro and other green sectors since 2007. This number represents investments from North America, China, India, and Brazil, as well at other developing countries.
Eco/Green Investing versus Socially Responsible Investing
While many eco-investments may be considered socially responsible investments, and vice versa, the two are not mutually inclusive. Socially responsible investing is the practice of investing only in those companies which satisfy certain moral or ethical criteria. This may include companies with an interest in the environment, but also supports various other social and religious issues.
Eco-investing narrows in on the interests of sustainable environmental issues. Specifically, eco-investments focus on companies who work on renewable energy and clean technologies.
There are several sectors that fall under the eco-investing umbrella. Renewable energy refers to both solar, wind, tidal current,wave and conventional hydro technology. This includes companies that build solar panels or wind turbines, or the raw materials and services that contribute to these technologies It also refers to Energy Storage – companies that develop and use technologies to store large amounts of energy, particularly renewable energies. A good example of this is the fuel cells used in hybrid cars. Also under the renewable energy sector are Biofuels. This group includes companies that use or supply biological resources (like algae, corn or waster wood) to create energy or fuel. Other technologies that are included in the renewable energy group are: Geothermal (companies who use or convert heat to electric energy) and Hydroelectricity (companies who harness water energy to make electricity).
The Buildings and Efficiency sector refers to companies that manufacture green building materials or energy-efficient services in the world of engineering and architecture. Green building materials include energy-efficient glass, insulation, and lighting among others. Recycling companies and energy conservation companies also fall under this sector.
The Eco Living sector refers to companies that offer sustainable goods and services for healthy living. This includes organic farming, green pesticides, health care and pharmaceuticals.
Green investment has significantly grown in the UK and there are now 136 funds listed on the Worldwise Investor fund library under the themes: Agriculture, Carbon, Clean Energy, Forestry, Environmental, Multi-thematic and Water. All of these funds account for around £21.8bn in the UK.
- Ethical banking
- Market-based environmental policy instruments
- Sustainable products
- Terror-free investing
- Henshaw, Mark (2010). "Eco Investor Guide" (PDF). Eco Investor Guide, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- Keane, Robert F. (1 November 2009). "The Green Advisor: SRI & Green Investing Grow Up". Investment Advisor. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- "New Global Climate Prosperity Scoreboard Finds Over $1 Trillion Invested in Green Since 2007". Green Money Journal. 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- "Socially Responsible Investing". Investor Glossary. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- "Green Technology & Alternative Fuels". Demand Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2010.