Sustainable Investing From The Advisor's Perspective

Sustainable Investing From The Advisor’s Perspective

Episode 15 of The Green Investor Podcast from Investopedia (June 23, 2022)

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling this month that could curtail the Biden administration’s efforts to rein in greenhouse gases, and its impact could weaken the federal government’s power to oversee wide swaths of American life well beyond climate change. The upcoming decision on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) climate oversight in a case officially known as West Virginia v. The Environmental Protection Agency, 1 could provide conservative justices on the nation’s highest court an opportunity to undermine federal regulations on a number of issues, ranging from limiting greenhouse emissions, drug pricing, financial regulations and net neutrality.

At the root of the case, critics of federal government oversight, including 27 Republican state Attorneys Generals and critics of the EPA, who say that it is “unlawful for federal agencies under the president’s supervision to make major decisions about industry regulations without clear authorization from Congress.” As for climate related regulations, they argue that the executive branch of government, which oversees the EPA, should not be allowed to set rules and regulations around greenhouse gas emissions. They say that should be up to Congress. Ironically, neither of the actual regulations at the heart of the case: the Obama-era 2015 Clean Power Plan and the Trump-era Affordable Clean Energy rule are currently in effect. But the Supreme Court’s decision, expected by the end of the month, could greatly reduce the Oval Office’s ability to regulate the fossil fuel industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is a big decision, especially as we head toward midterm elections here in the U.S. this fall.

Speaking of microchips, the $52 billion the federal government is investing to increase semiconductor production here in the U.S. could be an opportunity for the industry to become more sustainable. That’s according to a recent analysis from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The Chips for America Act,2 which became law last year but remains unfunded, would provide federal funds to increase U.S. chip production, but does not set environmental guidelines about how it’s done. Advocates for sustainable technology development are urging the world’s largest chip makers, including Nvidia, Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Advanced Micro Devices and Applied Materials, to make their chip making processes more sustainable.

The issue is none of those five companies have their own net zero targets, and the entire industry is plagued with a supply crunch, with firms trying to ramp up production using current processes. Those include the use of fluorinated compounds, which the EPA classifies as high GWP—greenhouse warming potential gases. They use these to create intricate circuitry patterns upon silicon wafers and to rapidly clean chemical vapor deposition tool chambers. In other words, those gases help chipmakers make chips faster. But according to the EPA, under normal operating conditions, anywhere between 10 to 80% of fluorinated GHGs is passed through the semiconductor manufacturing tool chambers unredacted, and are then released into the air. Nevertheless, S&P says the funding and development phase of building up domestic chip fabrication foundries presents the opportunity to invest in greener, sustainable technologies. Meet Peter Krull

Peter Krull is the founder, CEO, and Director of Investments for Earth Equity Advisors, a sustainability-focused investment management company. In his role, Peter focuses on creating and managing Earth Equity’s sustainable, responsible, and impact investment portfolios as well as writing thought leadership pieces and sharing the responsible investing story. Peter is a well-known leader in the green business community and a long-time advocate for fossil-fuel-free and sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing . Prior to his current role, Peter began his investment career at Merrill Lynch, before founding Krull & Company—the predecessor to Earth Equity Advisors—in 2004. In 2018, Peter was selected to the Investopedia 100 List, spotlighting one hundred of the most influential financial advisors in the U.S. What’s in this Episode?

We’ve had several conversations on this show with asset managers, ETF issuers and the people behind the products and tools in the world of green investing. But we have yet to speak with investment advisors, the people who are helping individual investors and their families assemble portfolios aligned with their beliefs. Registered investment advisors , or RIAs, as we call them, manage some $110 trillion in assets for some sixty million families in the U.S. alone. That’s trillion, with a ‘T’. We know that a small but growing chunk of that money keeps moving into ESG and SRI themes month after month, year after year. Earth Equity Advisors is one […]

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