'Green' on Wall Street: New indexes take off

A prominent equity index firm says it's going green, joining a growing number of firms trying to help investors profit from environmentally conscious holdings.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

On Monday, MSCI launched its Global Low Carbon Target Indexes, which complement an existing set of indexes that weigh stocks based on their carbon emissions. The new indices will favor companies that have low carbon exposure and emissions.

Earlier this month, MSCI brought its Low Carbon Leaders instruments to market; the indexes exclude companies with the highest carbon footprint. The firm also has a Global Environment Index that channels money into companies that derive 50 percent or more of sales from green products and services.

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"There is clearly an increasing demand for these type of indexes in general," said Sebastien Lieblich, MSCI's Executive Director. Citing "huge interest" among retail and institutional investors in green investments, Lieblich told CNBC that MSCI's indexes were "reflective of people taking low carbon seriously, and wanting to invest in a low carbon future."

Last week, the national pension funds of both France and Sweden threw their backing behind MSCI's index, earmarking up to a billion euros each to the fledgling fund.

MSCI's new indexes coincide with this week's United Nations Climate Summit, and join the growing cohort of financial firms and even oil companies that are trying to assuage environmental worries.

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