Bloomberg Makes Green Investing Easier

Bloomberg LP, the financial information and news company, attained phenomenal success by becoming an indispensible tool for financial professionals such as traders, financial analysts and investment bankers. There are Bloomberg terminals on over 250,000 desktops worldwide. And these are not ordinary desks: the people who sit at them influence possibly trillions of dollars of financial transactions each year.

Image representing Bloomberg as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Many financial professionals could not imagine doing their jobs without a Bloomberg terminal. (See this Fortune article for background on the company and an illustration of the passion its terminals inspire among users.) It’s fair to say, therefore, that the Bloomberg terminal has shaped how investment decisions are made around the world.  

What does this have to do with things green?  

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the sparking Bloomberg headquarters in midtown Manhattan and see a demonstration of the new environmental, social and governance (ESG) data and analytics that have been added to the Blooomberg product.  

The company says it has researched 20,000 companies around the world and has compiled ESG data on all those companies that have publicly disclosed any: 3080 companies in 43 countries. The terminal now carries some 85 environmental variables, ranging from total company CO2 emissions (direct and indirect), to paper consumed and recycled to energy intensity per EBITDA. Including the social and governance data, there are 120 ESG variables in total.  Here are some more (e-mail me if you want the full list):

Travel Emissions (Th Tonnes)
Nitrogen Oxide Emissions (Th Tonnes)
Sulphur Dioxide Emissions (Th Tonnes)
VOC Emissions (Th Tonnes)
Carbon Monoxide Emissions (Th Tonnes)
Methane Emissions (Th Tonnes)
ODS Emissions (Th Tonnes)
Particulate Emissions (Th Tonnes)
Total Energy Consumption (MWh)
Renewable Energy Use (MWh)
Water Consumption (Th Cubic Meters)
% Water Recycled
Discharges to Water (Th Cubic Meters)
Hazardous Waste (Th Tonnes)
Total Waste (Th Tonnes)
Waste Recycled (Th Tonnes)
Paper Consumption (Th Tonnes)
Paper Recycled (Th Tonnes)
Fuel Used (Th Litres)
Raw Materials Used (Th Tonnes)

The data is fully integrated into the Bloomberg terminal; users access and manipulate it the same way they use traditional financial metrics. It makes it easy for analysts to build models of company performance and value that include both financial and environmental factors.  

Bloomberg has added these capabilities because it recognizes that investment decisions, even by mainstream investors, will increasingly consider environmental, social and governance variables alongside traditional financial measures.  

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening ...
Image via Wikipedia

But I suspect this initiative is more than just a response to a vision of what the market needs. It is a subtle attempt to influence how trading and investment decisions are made. The company’s founder,  Michael Bloomberg, and its current president, Dan Doctoroff, have both racked up impressive green credentials. Before becoming president of Bloomberg LP, Doctoroff worked for Mr. Bloomberg at City Hall and, among other accomplishments, oversaw the creation of PlaNYC, the city’s impressive long-term vision of sustainable development.  

By putting this ESG data in the hands of financial professionals, Bloomberg has eliminated a barrier to incorporating environmental, social and governance factors in investment and trading decisions.  

It’s a hopeful sign that finance, an engine of economic growth, will increasingly consider both kinds of green.

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