Sonen and Public Policy Advocacy

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We spend a lot of time, energy and attention thinking about who we want to elect to represent us. Yet, most of us spend relatively little time talking to that representative once elected, reminding them of who we are and what we care about.

 

At Sonen, our clients’ investments benefit from legislation and strong public policies across a range of sustainability themes. Sonen is also able to bring a unique voice to public policy conversations, helping our representatives understand what the business and investor benefits are from proactive movement around these issues.

 

It is with this in mind, that Sonen’s Danielle Ginach and Meredith Benton put on comfortable shoes and headed out; Danielle to Sacramento, and Meredith to Washington, DC.

Danielle Ginach, Sonen’s Impact Manager, participated in an advocacy day led by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).   The group met with California State Assembly members and California State senators to express support for key upcoming water and climate bills. Of note, were meetings with San Francisco State Senator Mark Leno and San Francisco Assembly Member, David Chiu as well as Governor Jerry Brown’s Deputy Legislative Secretary Martha Aceves-Guzman.

 

Their advocacy focused on the following issues:

  • Water recycling – Currently, the state only recycles a small fraction of the wastewater that is discharged to the ocean – meaning water is diverted from overdrawn rivers (the Colorado River and Bay-Delta estuary), moved hundreds of miles to Southern California, used once, treated, and dumped in the ocean.
  • Water desalination – Seawater desalination generates far more expensive water than almost all alternatives, is highly energy-intensive, and poses serious risks to valuable marine and coastal resources.
  • Groundwater protection – We advocated for counties overlying particularly impacted groundwater basins to establish a process to require permits before new groundwater wells could be drilled.
  • Short-lived climate pollutants – We supported a bill that would cut pollution from methane, black carbon and f-gases, so called “short-lived climate pollutants” or “super pollutants.”
  • California climate targets post-2020 – With 2020 on the horizon, we called for the creation of a roadmap for California climate policy beyond 2020.

Danielle Ginach - Sonen Capital

Pictured: NRDC Staff Member Peter Bartholomaus, NRDC SF Council Members: Dylan Sage, Danielle Ginach, Peter Baker, Emily Baker, Jeffrey Rissman, Nick Weber and NRDC Climate Legislation Director Victoria Rome

 

Sonen’s Head of Client Relations, Meredith Benton, added Sonen’s voice to meetings organized by US SIF (the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment) in Washington, DC. Meredith met with Obama Administration representatives as well as Congressional aides. Highlights included conversations with Megan Ceronsky, Special Assistant to the President, and Rick Duke, Associate Director for Energy & Climate at the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change & Council on Environmental Quality.

 

The day’s focus topics included:

 

  • Action on climate and clean energy – We spoke to our support for the Clean Power Plan, as well as the need for meaningful carbon pricing. We heard about the White house’s focus on including HFC’s in the Montreal Protocol, addressing airplane emissions, and speeding up timelines associated with the Paris Agreement.
  • Support Corporate Political Spending Disclosure – The group urged the legislators to reject any language that would limit the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)’s ability to require public companies to disclose political spending to shareholders.
  • A Sustainable Investment Option within the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for Federal Employees and Military Personnel – We advocated for a sustainable investment option be provided to the 4.7 million federal employees and military personnel who have no sustainable investment options within their TSP retirement accounts.

Meredith Benton - Public Policy Advocacy

A half block from the White House, at the Council on Environmental Quality building. Pictured: Tim Smith, Walden Asset Management, Meredith Benton, Lisa Woll, US SIF, Erika Karp, Cornerstone Capital, Adam Kanzer, Domini Social Investments, Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Capital Management, Ken Locklin, Impax Asset Management, Stu Dalheim, Calvert Investments, Alya Kayal, US SIF