ESG Risk Exposure from COVID-19 Vaccine Transportation and Distribution
As mass vaccination against the coronavirus started, a key challenge has been to keep millions of doses of vaccines at the right temperature. An increase in temperature inside a truck or aircraft, by half a degree, for half an hour, would reportedly result in a 'defrosted' vaccine which has then to be discarded.
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.
Using Systems Thinking to Avoid ESG Investing Blind Spots
For investors looking to enhance ESG risk management and the long-term impact of sustainability efforts, a systemic approach can help identify interventions that will most effectively mitigate the risk of negative outcomes or divert the chain of events towards a more sustainable trajectory. Typically, this involves moving from single-issue or company-specific tactics to progressively integrate system-level considerations in ESG strategies. Targeting systemic change through active ownership is one way to acknowledge and start unravelling the dynamic web of global challenges.
Sustainalytics Weighs in on EU Taxonomy’s State of Flux
On May 7th, the European Commission published draft rules on how corporates and financial institutions should report on their alignment with the EU Taxonomy. The draft rules are laid out in a very technical document and not an easy read. This might explain why certain changes with significant impact on timelines and scope of the EU Taxonomy Regulation have flown under the radar of media and investors. Some of the impacts even escaped the attention of financial market participants responding to the consultation on the rules.
What Climate Litigation Means for the Oil & Gas Industry
As the global economy looks towards recovery after being impacted by the pandemic, the oil and gas industry faces a growing wave of shareholder activism and climate litigation due to a heightened focus on an accelerated transition as an indirect impact of the pandemic – painting an increasingly bleak picture for those within the industry.
La pertinence des labels ISR dans le contexte de la SFDR et des mesures de l’AMF contre le greenwashing
Une marée de réglementations liées à l’ESG s’abat sur les investisseurs institutionnels. Avec l’introduction de SFDR et les obligations de publication mises en place par l’AMF, se pose la question d’une possible obsolescence des labels ISR dans la lutte contre le greenwashing. Un phénomène qui inquiète de plus en plus les investisseurs et les régulateurs au vue de la croissance constante du marché des fond ISR. Pendant de nombreuses années, l’industrie s’est auto-régulée en s’accordant sur une définition générale de l’investissement responsable et/ou en se tournant vers les opérateurs de labels pour créer des standards de marché.
The Why and the How of Socio-Economic Impact Reporting
As CSR has evolved, companies have become accountable to more than just their shareholders. Stakeholders of all stripes are demanding greater accountability and transparency from organizations. Socio-economic impact reporting goes beyond traditional CSR to provide quantifiable evidence of a company’s positive socio-economic impact on its stakeholders.
Royal Dutch Shell Court Order Shifts Paradigm for Corporate ESG Accountability
On 26 May 2021, the Court of The Hague orders Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) to reduce CO2 emissions to a net 45% by the end of 2030 compared to 2019 through the Group Policy of the Shell Group. The order of a national (Dutch) court demands that a global company (RDS) fulfills its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, although RDS was not a party in that agreement, and there is no legal equivalent in The Netherlands. What are the broader consequences of this order, also globally and for other companies and potentially also other jurisdictions?
New Draft Disclosure Rules Change Timelines and Scope of EU Taxonomy
In recent months, a lot has been said and written about the EU Taxonomy, the green classification system of economic activities that aims to drive capital flows to sustainable investments supporting the EU’s policy goals on climate and the environment. Political, corporate, and civil society lobbying reached its peak when the EU published draft rules last December, which deviated substantially from expert recommendations. However, the latest draft delegated act with rules on Taxonomy reporting published by the European Commission on May 7th has received far less attention even though some of the proposed changes affect the practical implementation timelines as well as the scope and ambition of the regulation.
Les points communs entre la réglementation française et européenne en matière d’ISR
Quand les nouvelles réglementations sur les investissements durables et responsables (ISR) furent annoncées avec le « EU Action Plan », les institutionnels français n'ont pas cillé. Depuis l'accord de Paris en 2015, de nombreuses nouvelles obligations réglementaires liées à la publication d’information et à l’analyse ESG ont influencé les stratégies d’investissements responsables des institutionnels français. Le règlement SFDR qui est entré en vigueur le 10 mars dernier vient s’ajouter au cadre réglementaire local en matière de reporting.
ESG Disclosure and Performance in Southeast Asia
Strategically located at the centre of Asia Pacific, with a young population of more than 675 million across 11 countries, Southeast Asia is an economic block with one of the world’s fastest GDP growth rate. In recent years, the region has been attracting the attention of global investors. At the same time, in the context of responsible investing moving from a niche activity to the mainstream, research on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of Southeast Asia companies is limited. In this article, we have a deeper look at the ESG disclosure and performance of major Southeast Asia countries, focusing on the ASEAN-6 countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines).
Unwritten Risks – The True Costs of Mispriced Climate Change
Research shows that Property & Casualty insurance underwriters are not accurately pricing climate risks, and US government policy and program decisions are proving to be unsustainable. In our most recent blog, Justin Cheng talks about the resulting premium pricing corrections in the wake of intensifying extreme weather events. With this trend, a significant number of US homeowners are unable to obtain property insurance while taxpayers take on the increased cost of climate risk.
Banks Embrace Corporate Culture as Change Agent
Corporate culture is not automatically positive, and elements of a company’s culture may provide certain benefits or disadvantages to a firm’s competitiveness. When acknowledged, corporate culture can be used as a tool to drive better business outcomes and manage conduct and compliance risk. Our discussions with companies show that corporate culture can have a dominant effect and influence behaviour over and beyond stated company policies and programs.
Bringing Investors and Companies Together to Address the Climate Change Crisis
As Earth Day is around the corner on the 22nd of April, the Biden Administration is to convene a global climate summit. Following a historical precedent for several such events, since its inception in 1970, including signing the landmark Paris Agreement . We have seen positive developments since the Paris Agreement; societal actions to address some of the root causes of climate change have yet to suppress the negative trends . Historically, active ownership on climate change has focused on direct emissions from highly exposed sectors, such as fossil fuel and utility companies. However, the more complicated, less direct aspects of climate change have seen limited progress. Tackling such issues will see a strong need for collaboration from both countries and other key sectors, in particular, banking and finance. Banks are key to support this transformation; facilitating economic activity for positive change throughout the entire value chain is key.
Sustainability-Linked Loans 2021: The COVID-19 Effect, ESG Ratings & Continued Popularity
The sustainable finance market has seen an exponential increase in size and activity in recent years. Innovative offerings such as green, social, and sustainable bonds, green and sustainability-linked loans (SLLs), and most recently sustainability-linked bonds, have contributed to the market’s incredible growth. In 2020, boosted by varied financial needs and mainstream recognition of environmental, social and governance (ESG) parameters, global sustainable debt capital surpassed US$700 billion, a 30% increase compared to 2019. Part of this capital was channelled towards tackling the effects of COVID-19 as government agencies, supranational bodies and corporates borrowed money to support areas most affected by the pandemic, such as healthcare. This shift in fund usage in 2020 resulted in the rapid growth of social bonds and a commendable first year for sustainability-linked bonds.
Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss Highlight the need for a Better Normal
The world is aching for a return to normality after a year (and still counting) of news bulletins being dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic; Earth Day 2021 should serve as a stark reminder that we cannot go back to business-as-usual. We must address the vast environmental challenges facing humanity, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, extreme weather and issues related to water.
Tracking the Progress on Gender Equality through Sustainable Finance
A key result of achieving UN SDG 5 - Gender Equality is global economic development. However, as women globally were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the financing of activities that contribute to the empowerment and socio-economic advancement of women and girls will need to be accelerated to meet the goal by 2030. One option for creating targeted gender investment is the development and issuance of Gender Bonds that specifically support the advancement, empowerment, and equality of women.
UNICEF Collaborates with Sustainalytics to Highlight Children’s Rights Issues for Investors
While child labor remains a serious problem across industries and countries, it is only one part of the overall issues pertaining to children’s rights; companies and investors should recognize the scope and relevance of this topic.
Personal Products and the New Ethics of Product Naming
Over recent years, personal product (PP) companies have faced an increasing demand for more inclusive product governance – from formulations to labels – and marketing that reflects the diversity of consumers. To grow sustainably within their communities and stay relevant for their target customers, such companies need to create value for society proactively. Some of the major players in this industry have already started paving the way for others.