Biodiversity loss and climate change call for a nature-positive economy – Stewardship may lead the way
Financial institutions funding the supply chains affected by biodiversity loss stand to lose right alongside farmers, producers and retailers—and so, in turn, do investors. ESG stewardship continues to be a powerful investor instrument to mitigate risks on a changing planet. With growing expectations of double materiality, it is an opportunity for investors to have a greater societal impact and support the transition towards a nature-positive economy.
Mass Timber in Construction - Big Buildings, Smaller Carbon Footprint
As an innovation in the industry, mass timber construction emits significantly less carbon than traditional concrete and metal structures, while modular construction ensures usability across many building types. This article reviews some of the concerns over structural strength, fire safety, regulatory compatibility, cost savings and the sustainability of increased forestry. It then examines current mass timber buildings and projects and looks at their viability as an alternative material for the future.
Looking at ESG in Crypto, Blockchain, and Public Equities
Beyond the volatile crypto market, blockchain has several features that lend well to commercial applications. Blockchain can help improve the transparency, speed and efficiency of data transfers and monetary transactions. Businesses in multiple industries are using blockchain tools to enhance payment platforms and secure supply chain management systems. Sustainalytics’ latest Thematic Research report, An ESG Lens on Blockchain and Public Equities, surveys ESG risks and opportunities related to applications of blockchain technology that are being developed by listed companies across multiple sectors of the economy.
Key Themes Shaping Proxy Voting in 2022
As the volume and breadth of ESG risk exposure continue to rise, the stage is set for another momentous proxy season. The trending topics of last year will continue to steer the agenda—with the prospect of even more substantial support from shareholders in 2022.
EU Taxonomy in Limbo - Reporting Alignment of Article 8 and 9 Funds in 2022
For observers of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Strategy, 2022 kicked off with a crack and a bang as the European Commission went ahead with plans to include natural gas and nuclear-related activities as potentially sustainable under their ‘Green Taxonomy’. However, in midst of this furor, seemingly less attention has been paid to other components of the regulation that have quietly taken effect from the 1st of January 2022, presenting their own set of challenges.
The ESG Risks of National Oil Companies Taking Over Fossil Fuel Production from International Oil Majors
As growing pressure to cut GHG emissions is causing Western oil majors to sell their high-carbon assets, it is expected that National Oil Companies (NOCs) will pick up some of the production. For investors holding an interest in or considering investing in NOCs or sovereign debt, it is worth assessing how fossil fuel production shifts will impact their portfolio’s alignment with climate ambitions and ESG values.
3 Reasons to Skill Up and Scale Up ESG Stewardship in 2022
As our clients and the industry at large focus on proactively mitigating risk and capitalizing on this evolving landscape, stewardship will be a key lever for savvy investors—particularly those facing external pressure to divest. Here are the ESG themes we see influencing stewardship priorities this year.
5 Sustainability Themes to Expect in 2022
As we enter 2022, it struck me that VUCA--a concept that originated in the mid-1980s at the U.S. Army War College to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the world after the Cold War—is still a useful framework to think of where we are now.
For Investors with Ambitions to Lead on Climate Action Post COP26
In the weeks following COP26, investors in the UK and worldwide face a myriad of upcoming climate-related regulations heading towards the implementation phase. In addition, major global coalitions such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero have sprung up to attempt to accelerate decarbonization via targeted investment.
COP 26: A Spotlight on Emerging Climate Action Themes for Investors
Reactions to the COP26 Conference and the resulting Glasgow Climate Pact have predictably run the gamut from claims of greenwashing to the celebration of progress in the fight against climate change. Ultimately, any judgement on COP26 may be premature, as the success of the conference will best be measured in time by the extent to which commitments made are put into motion. While we wait to see the concrete actions that materialize, the past two weeks have underscored the importance of several themes that will garner increasing attention and should be considered by sustainable investors.
Momentum Around Principal Adverse Impact Data Remains Strong Despite SFDR Delays
Despite the shifting timelines, we observe that the market momentum around PAIs is not diminishing, quite the contrary. Investors in the scope of the regulation are using the fourth quarter of this year to get acquainted with PAI data and set up their systems. Most investors we speak with want to be prepared in time to be able to monitor PAIs throughout 2022 and adjust their portfolios to boost their PAIs (or rather limit the downside, as these are adverse impact indicators). This means that PAIs may significantly impact stock selection and portfolio construction by fund managers keen to have ‘good’ PAI scores.
SFDR and EU Taxonomy Product Disclosure Rules Finally Released
The publication of these rules marks the end of a prolonged period of uncertainty in the market around final rules and timelines - assuming the RTS will be adopted as-is in a Delegated Act, which turns these rules into regulation. There are several noteworthy aspects to these rules, which we address from our perspective in this article.
Impact of Climate Change and Extreme Weather on Essential Services
Utilities have found themselves in the literal and metaphorical eye of the storm over the last year as hurricanes, floods and wildfires of increasing frequency and strength have wreaked damage on their assets. In late August, Storm Ida made landfall in Louisiana, USA and devastated the power grid lines. Entergy, the utility operating in Louisiana, supplying most of New Orleans, restored 90% of the supply only by mid-September, with 87,000 customers still without power.
Recent market trends put engagement and voting front and centre for responsible investors
From a market perspective, engagement and voting on governance issues have been used as levers for influence for a long time. On the other hand, environmental and social issues were historically addressed from a values-based perspective or primarily for fact-finding purposes. Today, many responsible investors leverage corporate dialogue as a tool to influence and drive meaningful change and impact
North American Material Risk Engagement Trends: ESG Reporting Frameworks, Emission Reduction Targets and Beyond
There are many factors that rating agencies consider within its overall assessment. For example, ESG rating companies tend to look for at least three years of ESG metrics to determine company trends and long-term ESG targets, goals, and strategies to manage and reduce ESG risks at least five years ahead. Read on to learn about how Sustainalytics' Material Risk Engagement program promotes and protects long-term value by engaging with high-risk companies on financially-material ESG issues. (A North American Snapshot)
Delays, Questions and Confusion: Updates on the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation
In this blog, we look at the delay of the level 2 regulation, some aspects of the Q&A, and the ongoing confusion and divergence around SFDR. We pay special attention to the potential impact of the Principle Adverse Impact indicators, an element of SFDR.
EU Taxonomy Developments and the EU’s Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy
On July 6th, the European Commission published its Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy, the successor of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan, which launched in 2018. The strategy focuses on transforming the financial system and financing transition plans, building on the 2018 Action Plan, which centered on developing the EU Taxonomy, putting in place disclosure regimes, and developing tools for the market to develop sustainable investment solutions and prevent greenwashing.
The Mutual Influence of Investors and Government
On issues from voting rights to climate change, the relationship between investors, companies, and governments has never been more dynamic. This has spurred a lively discussion about the impact and appropriate role of these actors in addressing systemic environmental and social issues. An increasingly cited view is that commitments made by businesses and investors are often superficial, and at best, can provide only incremental progress towards addressing the problems we face. Some go further to suggest that sustainable investing has done more harm than good, with the notion that these efforts have provided a false sense of progress and have delayed meaningful government action. This is a worthwhile debate, but my experience over the last eight years in the sustainable investing space has given me a very different perspective.