Signals | October 31, 2018

The new tally of “sustainable” assets in the U.S.: $12 trillion

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

The new tally of “sustainable” assets in the U.S. is $12 trillion. The 38% increase from two years ago means a quarter of the $46 trillion in total U.S. assets under management now take into account environmental, social or governance, or ESG, factors, either when selecting investments or through shareholder resolutions. Yet very little of that total is in proactive impact investments.

Institutional investors and money managers identified just $84 billion in impact investments in the biennial tally from the U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, or US SIF.

The survey includes ESG assets held by 496 institutional investors, 365 money managers and 1,145 community investing financial institutions, along with 219 institutional investors or money managers that filed or co-filed shareholder resolution. Community investment assets, driven by credit unions, grew 50% to $185 billion. Some highlights:

  • Climate change. $3 trillion in managed assets are now assessed against climate change criteria, more than double the amount in 2016.
  • Weapons. Concern for civilian firearms drove a five-fold spike in assets screened for weapons to $1.9 trillion.
  • Fossil fuel divestment. $680 billion in assets are now governed by fossil-fuel divestment policies, up 372% over 2016.
  • Shareholder engagement. 165 institutional investors and 54 investment managers with a collective $1.8 trillion in assets filed or co-filed shareholder resolutions since 2016. Just 18 proposals on social and environmental issues received majority support during that time (up from three between 2012 and 2015).
  • Global Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals are one of the motivations for pursuing sustainable investment strategies for 56 money managers representing $2.15 trillion in assets.