There is nothing more difficult and potentially risky than breaking ranks with one’s ideologic tribe. In deciding to eliminate its own negative screen on nuclear power, Parnassus Investments, a leader in sustainable investing, has demonstrated not just that it has done its homework (unlike, say, Green Century Funds), but that it is an organization that adheres to science and facts, rather than ideology and takes its commitments seriously. This takes exceptional courage and confidence in world riven by fearful ideologues and the furious misinformed.
We have been through what we imagine is a similar awakening process to that which the senior leadership team at Parnassus, led by Marian Macindoe, head of ESG stewardship at Parnassus, and its board of trustees clearly partook. If you are courageous enough to look and listen, the facts and experts all point to the inevitable conclusion that nuclear power, despite all of the controversy around it, is much better than we’ve been led to believe and it provides a key tool in the clean energy toolbox that doesn’t otherwise exist: firm clean power. Only that can compete with the firm dirty power to which we are addicted.
It is a thing of beauty, so we reproduce the entire statement issued by Parnassus itself below:
San Francisco, CA May 1, 2023
In support of the transition to a low-carbon economy, Parnassus Investments, a pioneer in responsible investing, is removing its long-held exclusion on companies that make more than 10% of their revenue from nuclear power generation and/or related activities. This change was approved by the Funds’ board of trustees and will be reflected in the Prospectus dated May 1, 2023.
Parnassus initially established the nuclear power screen in 1984 because of the safety and cost issues involved with building and running nuclear plants. Today, we believe nuclear energy offers a critical source of fuel, with benefits that include low to no emissions, safety and stability. Tighter regulations governing nuclear plants have also led to improved designs and equipment as well as training and emergency response requirements. We are also pleased with the potential that the new generation of nuclear technology offers for higher safety and lower costs.
“We believe this is the right thing to do at this time because nuclear energy will be an essential source of fuel in the transition to the renewable sources required to support a low-carbon economy, and because we view nuclear power generation, in a highly regulated environment, as a reasonable choice,” said Marian Macindoe, head of ESG stewardship at Parnassus.
The change will have no immediate impact on Parnassus Funds, but it will enable nuclear power companies to be part of the universe of securities considered for investment. Any potential investment in a company with revenue exposure to nuclear power generation would not only be subject to extensive risk review but would also require deep examination of its traditional investment characteristics.
Parnassus research analysts will evaluate companies involved in nuclear generation and engineering for robust governance, oversight and safety processes, including risk assessments and preparedness for climate, geologic and geopolitical events; a commitment to science-based emissions-reduction targets; and strong policies for nuclear-waste storage and disposal.
In addition to acting in support of a low-carbon economy, Parnassus is removing the nuclear screen in response to investor preferences shifting from exclusionary screens and toward investments in companies with positive social and environmental attributes. The changes also reflect the firm’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in December 2022, to establish a goal of net-zero emissions in all our funds by 2050, in alignment with the Paris Agreement.
Shareholders in Parnassus Funds can obtain more information by calling (800) 999-3505 or emailing email@example.com.
Click here to go to Parnassus Investments own press announcement: Parnassus Investments Removes Investment Screen for Nuclear Power in Support of Our Transition to Low-Carbon Economy, published May 1, 2023.