Climate Investing

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It intersects all social justice issues – racial justice, environmentalism, gender equality, poverty, and more. As investors, there are several ways that we can do climate investing: corporate climate leaders investing, divesting, and shareholder action. The information below is for information purposes only. We do not provide investment, financial planning, legal, or tax advice. The mention of a corporation in this post is not to be considered an endorsement.

Corporate Climate Leaders

While there is undeniably a climate crisis, there is also a huge window of opportunity for climate leaders to emerge. There are publicly traded corporations that recognize that taking climate action is good for the world and good for their bottom line. Investing in these corporate climate leaders is one option to do climate investing.

Examples of corporate climate leaders in a variety of sectors include:

The Clean200 are the largest 200 public companies ranked by green revenues. In order to be eligible, a company must have USD revenue of at least $1 billion (most recently available fiscal year-end data) and earn more than 10% of total revenues from clean sources. The 10 American companies that are highest on the list, their rank on the Clean200 list, sector and product examples can be seen in the table below.

Rank (of 200)Short NameGICS SectorProduct Examples
3Alphabet IncCommunication ServicesFully powered by renewable energy
6HP IncInformation TechnologyEnergy-efficient hardware
8Cisco Systems IncInformation TechnologyEnergy-efficient hardware
9Tesla IncConsumer DiscretionaryElectric vehicles
17Intel CorpInformation TechnologyEnergy-efficient hardware
28Kimberly-Clark CorpConsumer StaplesFSC and PEFC certified products
38Hewlett Packard Enterprise CoInformation TechnologyEnergy-efficient hardware
47Ecolab IncMaterialsWater purification solutions
50Ball CorpMaterialsRecyclable containers
51Sims Metal Management LtdMaterialsRecycling metals

CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) also publishes an annual “A List” of corporations leading on climate initiatives. Many of the corporations are publicly traded.


The second option for climate investing is to divest. To divest is to sell investments that include bad climate actors. In terms of the greatest emitters of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions in the world, Chevron (CVX) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) rank Numbers 2 and 4, respectively, for investor and state-owned entities. Exxon Mobil, the US’s largest oil and gas company, has also played a particularly large role in influencing public perception about climate change, asserting that there is doubt about the impacts of human-induced climate change.

For the fossil fuel industry to continue to thrive, financiers must fund the projects. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is the world’s number 1 financier to the fossil fuel industry, by a wide margin. JPMorgan Chase provided $268.59 billion of fossil fuel financing in 2019. Investors can divest from stocks in JPM. In addition, investors can switch to a bank that does not fund fossil fuel projects. One such bank is Aspiration.

Shareholder activism

The third option for climate investing is shareholder advocacy. Shareholder advocacy is when investors use their rights as a shareholder of a publicly-traded corporation to create change within or for the corporation. This can be done through the use of shareholder resolutions, or proposals, and voting by shareholders. Shareholder voting happens during annual meetings. These are held typically held between April and June.

Nearly 400 shareholder resolutions were filed in 2019, to be voted on in 2020. A list of climate-related resolutions that were voted in can be seen in the below table.

ChevronCut GHG emissions in line with Paris Agreement
ChevronReport on plans to cut carbon footprint in line with Paris Agreement
ConocoPhillipsCut GHG emissions in line with Paris Agreement
Dollar TreeReport on Paris-compliant plan to cut carbon footprint
Exxon MobilReport on Paris-compliant plan to cut carbon footprint
Exxon MobilCut GHG emissions in line with Paris Agreement
Home DepotReport on energy efficiency/renewable energy goals
Marathon PetroleumReport on Paris-compliant plan to cut carbon footprint
Ross StoresReport on Paris-compliant plan to cut carbon footprint
SouthernReport on stranded carbon asset risks
United Parcel ServiceReport on Paris-compliant plan to cut carbon footprint
Goldman SachsMeasure & disclose the climate impact of its lending
JPMorgan ChaseReport on oil sands financing
JPMorgan ChaseReport on reducing GHG emissions associated with its lending
Morgan StanleyMeasure & disclose the climate impact of its lending

Photos by Mariana Proença, Patrick Hendry