Biodiversity round-up: Storebrand excludes four mining companies

Move comes as investors gear up for COP15; CDP finds majority of companies not translating strategies or commitments on biodiversity into action.

Storebrand Asset Management has excluded four mining companies “with instant effect” as part of a new nature policy. The Norwegian investor announced earlier this week that it will no longer invest in companies with mining operations that conduct marine or riverine tailings disposal, companies involved in deep sea mining, and companies that derive at least 5 percent of their revenues from drilling in the Arctic. The manager is also calling on companies to set biodiversity targets, as well as assess and reduce their negative impact.  

Gerard Barron, CEO of The Metals Company (one of the firms excluded), told Responsible Investor:  “We are aligned with Storebrand’s stated goal of protecting nature, and the critical battery metals produced from nodule collection are expected to result in significantly lower ESG impacts versus production from conventional land-based sources: no social displacement, no deforestation, no digging, blasting or drilling, no child labor, no toxic tailings, and significantly lower carbon impacts.”

“As reported in our Q3 2022 corporate update, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s preliminary lifecycle impact assessment suggests nodules result in the lowest impact across most environmental indicators compared to conventional land-based nickel production, which would typically be sourced from beneath the biodiverse, carbon-storing rainforests that Storebrand and their partners at WWF wish to protect.”

Storebrand’s CEO Jan Erik Saugestad – alongside Aviva’s CEO Amanda Blanc and Eoin Murray, head of investments of Federated Hermes Limited – are among the representatives from the 26 financial institutions that will be representing the Finance for Biodiversity Foundation delegation at COP15 next week. The group are calling on leaders to “agree on an ambitious outcome and effective measures to reverse nature loss in this decade to ensure ecosystem resilience”. 

As an official observer to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the foundation can participate in the negotiation process of the Global Biodiversity Framework. This week saw the foundation’s Public Policy Advocacy working group launch its third position paper, which contain its latest suggestions for financial sector goals and targets. 

More than half the companies that answered the CDP’s questionnaire on biodiversity are not translating their strategies or commitments on the issue into action, according to the non-profit. On Wednesday, CDP published new data on the 7,700 respondents to its first attempt to collect biodiversity-related questions – this was supported by BNP Paribas Asset Management and Business for Nature. Alongside the lack of action, nearly three-quarters of companies said they do not assess the impact of their value chain on biodiversity. 

In response to the findings, Sue Armstrong Brown, global director for environmental standards at CDP, said: “CDP’s new data shows that the voluntary progress already made should be all policymakers’ need to finally make biodiversity disclosure mandatory. Governments must seize this chance and create the enabling environment companies need to drive forward their commitments by agreeing a clear and ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework.” 

With sufficient finance, nature-based solutions will provide benefits that contribute to climate, biodiversity and land restoration goals in an integrated manner “while also promoting human wellbeing”, according to a new report. Published Thursday, the State of Finance for Nature report is the second in a series that aims to quantify the extent to which finance flows are aligned with global targets, and the investment needed to limit global warming to below 1.5C, halt biodiversity loss and achieve land degradation neutrality. The report was produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Economics of Land Degradation (ELD) Initiative, in collaboration with Vivid Economics by McKinsey.