Margaret Hynds | The Observer Just days after Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S. and address to the nation’s leaders, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy spoke on campus Friday afternoon to both students and the press, discussing climate change and Notre Dame’s recently announced efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and integrate a variety of sustainable energy sources.In the next five years, the University will cease burning coal in its campus power plant, and by 2030 it plans to halve its carbon emissions, University president Fr. John Jenkins said last week.At Friday’s press conference, McCarthy quoted Francis’s words earlier in the week and stressed the importance of the nation getting behind efforts to prevent further climate change.“On Wednesday, during remarks at the White House, the Holy Father Pope Francis said, ‘When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment in history,’” she said. “Indeed the Pope, President Obama and countless other world leaders have made it clear that the time to action climate change is now, and that all of us — whether in the public, private, academic or faith-based communities — have a role to play in addressing this global challenge for the sake of our kids and especially for those most vulnerable. That’s why we must act today.“And I have to say, the pope’s time in Washington was indeed personal for me, not just as a Catholic but as someone who has been in the fight against climate change for many years.“His trip reaffirmed the tide really has turned … that we’re past the old days of debating the science and making incremental progress, and right now we do have solutions available to us so that we can take actions now that are not just good at addressing climate but that are also good for our economy and those most vulnerable,” she said.McCarthy described Notre Dame’s plans for the integration of sustainable energy and reduction of carbon emissions as “an opportunity to demonstrate what the pope’s moral responsibility actually looks like.”“The steps we are taking here today at ND are something that I want to make sure everybody knows and is celebrating, because they are a tremendous example of bringing life to the pope’s challenge; of recognizing that we have a moral responsibility and we do have actions that we can and must take today,” she said. “I want to explain to everybody just how excited I am to be on this campus, under this president’s leadership and actually tackling this issue in a way that’s going to add value to the campus, but perhaps more importantly bring life to the intersect of faith and values that the challenge of climate change demands.“That is really so well aligned with the message of this pope. And I commend the University of ND for setting ambitious goals and efforts in taking action already to reduce their carbon footprint, which they expect to halve by 2030. That is what leadership and that is what stewardship actually looks like,” she said.Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves also spoke, detailing further what the University hopes and plans to do in the coming years in regards to renewable energy.As the University works through its coal cessation plan, he said, it has explored and is currently working on a number of other energy strategies.“At the moment, we’re using a lot of natural gas, we’re looking at creating our first geothermal field set to go in after next June as we complete the research building on the east side of campus,” he said. “We’re going to have a geothermal field under the parking area there, and we’re looking at other geothermal fields in several places on campus.”In addition to geothermal energy, Affleck-Graves said Notre Dame is investigating other avenues to create a more “diversified strategy.”“[We’re] moving more and more towards renewable energy, so we arrive at a situation where most of our energy will come from renewable sources,” he said. “ … We’re looking at a hydroelectric plant on the river. We’re working with the city of South Bend, and that’s in the planning and approval stages. There’s a lot of regulation that goes around that.“We’re also looking at solar, particularly in some of the parking fields that we have, where we have large open areas that we can maybe put solar on top of parking structures, and maybe a little bit of solar on top of roofs.”When asked about the cost of moving from traditional sources of energy to renewable sources, Affleck-Graves said he did not foresee that being a large issue for the University. The cost of investing in things like a geothermal field would be high, he said, but after the field goes in there would no longer be installation costs associated with it.“I wouldn’t say it’s new money, it’s an element of new money but also the redirection of money. … Instead of a new coal fire burner, we’ll invest in another alternative source,” he said.McCarthy said because climate change is a reality now, action needs to be taken immediately to protect the disadvantaged and future generations.“It’s not just about the challenge of keeping our children safe in the future, but it is all about protecting them today, protecting the most vulnerable and making sure we meet the president’s call for us to take action and meet that moral responsibility,” she said.Tags: EPA, Notre Dame, Pope Francis, renewable energy
ESG integration varied from those excluding certain categories of companies, to and investment targeting firms that score high on ESG criteria. The form of investors’ engagement was also included in the study.Although a significant majority of investors already applied ESG criteria in their investment process, the proportion of the investment portfolio subject to the criteria was limited. The research revealed that 44% of institutional investors had less than a quarter of their assets invested in this way, with 17% indicating it applied to more than half of their investments.State Street said it expected that the average proportion of ESG-integrated investments would increase to 40% in the coming years.The asset manager noted that investors planning to extend their ESG strategies were facing obstacles, such as difficulties in finding a benchmark and a lack of uniform ESG definitions and standards.Other problems included assessing asset managers’ ESG credentials, the costs of ESG integration, and a lack of in-house expertise.The survey included investors in the Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, the Nordics, Italy, and Switzerland.In separate research published this week, consultancy firm Cambridge Associates found that unlisted impact investment funds in asset classes such as timber, real estate and infrastructure could generate returns similar to those from funds without a specific environmental tilt. However, the research noted that fund selection was key to successful allocations. The report is available here.Last month, asset manager Hermes found a link between higher credit spreads and weaker ESG scores for corporate bonds. Integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment policies generates strong returns and can dampen volatility, according to an investor survey by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA).SSGA questioned 475 institutional investors from around the world, and found that eight in 10 were satisfied or very satisfied with the returns from their ESG investments.In addition, State Street found that 69% of the respondents indicated that ESG strategies had assisted in keeping volatility in check.A majority of the surveyed investors said that they planned to increase their responsible investments.
“I thought it was really helpful to get different perspectives from people who are working in politics, from people working in nonprofits and for the people [who have] experienced homelessness themselves,” Chung said. Community activists, Los Angeles officials and individuals who have experienced homelessness joined in conversation with one another Tuesday to discuss policy initiatives and the impact of poverty. The event, titled “A conversation about LA’s homeless crisis,” was hosted by Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism professors Mary Murphy and Sandy Tolan. “There’s all these things that we don’t think about that we take for granted [such as] mailing services, or internet, or electricity or transportation,” Kim said. “There’s a lot of misinformation as to the kinds of people experiencing homelessness — ‘Oh they don’t want to work’ or ‘Oh they’re all mentally ill,” and that’s just not true.” Murphy ended the panel by discussing the responsibility that journalists and students have to be aware of the homeless community. “[The club] provides a sense of community … They are estranged from their family, they have destroyed relationships in the process,” Mitchell said. “One of the fundamental things that all human beings needs is relationships. … [The program] is a partnership of people like me who are not [experiencing homelessness] and people who are.” Annenberg professor Sandy Tolan (center) co-hosted an event about reporting on homelessness with professor Mary Murphy Tuesday. (Shaylee Navarro/Daily Trojan) Craig Mitchell, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and founder of the Skid Row Running Club described his organization as an opportunity for individuals to come together and form a community between people who experience homelessness and homelessness advocates. Tolan began the event by introducing the students who organized the event and their two-year project on homelessness reporting. The projects included stories of people facing evictions, individuals living in their cars and even a USC student’s struggles with remaining in a stable housing unit. Panelist Demetri Bryant, who has experienced homelessness in the Los Angeles area, said that people who have dealt with the same conditions have to advocate for themselves because no one else in the community cares enough to advocate for their rights. “When I was young, [my family] was facing no fault eviction,” Cruz said. “Last year, the landlord served us another no fault eviction … If you don’t know what your resources are or if you are unable to put in the time to find these resources, your options are extremely limited.” According to the most recent records from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, 50,000 Angelenos are currently experiencing homelessness. Around 9% of four-year undergraduate students in the U.S. have reported that they experienced homelessness in 2018. Janet Kim, representative of the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, said that the program was established as a way to get to know the homeless community as well as break barriers and stigma surrounding the issue. “For journalists, one of the reason we did this class … is because this is a priority for journalists — we have to expose this, we have to write about it,” Murphy said. Murphy mentioned her advocacy work with the homelessness initiative, which specifically centers its efforts on Skid Row. “When you’re a homeless person you need to be proactive,” Bryant said. “You need to be making an effort to do for yourself, and you can’t sit around waiting for people to do stuff for you because they won’t.” “I’ve been volunteering in Skid Row for 30 years, I’ve been volunteering for people experiencing homeless,” Murphy said. “This kind of panel where we have people who have experienced homelessness, people who are trying to solve the problem, this communion, this conversation is part of the answer.” Panelist Diana Cruz was the first individual to share her experience with homelessness, particularly with evictions. She said her situation is not unusual; however, there continues to be limited resources and a lack of support for her as well as others. Kelly Chung, a junior majoring in business administration, said that listening to different perspectives on the issue of homelessness provided helpful insight.