Coronavirus Round-up: PLSA suggests voting against firms with poor C-19 response to workers

The latest news on the Covid-19 outbreak and responsible investment

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), the main UK pensions industry body, has advised UK pension schemes to consider voting against company directors who “did not behave appropriately towards their workforces” in their responses to the COVID19 pandemic. The new guidance follows reports of UK companies retrenching staff as a result of the ongoing crisis – while maintaining full pay and bonuses for senior leadership.

A group of MEPs, NGOs, corporates and think tanks have formed a coalition to back calls for a “green recovery” from the current pandemic. More than 150 organisations, CEOs and politicians have signed a letter stating: “After the crisis, the time will come to rebuild. This moment of recovery will be an opportunity to rethink our society and develop a new model of prosperity. This new model will have to answer to our needs and priorities. These massive investments must trigger a new European economic model: more resilient, more protective, more sovereign and more inclusive. All these requirements lie in an economy built around Green principles. Indeed, the transition to a climate-neutral economy, the protection of biodiversity and the transformation of agri-food systems have the potential to rapidly deliver jobs, growth and improve the way of life of all citizens worldwide, and to contribute to building more resilient societies.” 

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision's Task Force on Climate-related Financial Risk has said its stocktake report on its members' climate risk initiatives, due to be published in March, has been delayed. A new publication date has yet to be confirmed. The task force, co-chaired by Frank Elderson, Executive Director of Supervision at Dutch central bank DNB and chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) and Kevin Stiroh, Executive Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, met for the first time last month.

IHS Markit, a provider of industrial and market data, has found that North American oil & gas companies are planning to reduce spending in 2020 by 36% – amounting to a $24.4bn (€22.4bn) cut – compared to the previous year. As a result, the firm estimated a decline in US crude oil production by about 2.9m barrels a day by the end of 2020 compared to the year’s first quarter. Spending cuts by international oil producers – an estimated 24% – was smaller in comparison, with a substantial part coming from their US operations.

The latest research from Swedish bank SEB shows that, despite a strong start in January and February, the impact of COVID-19 has slowed green bond issuance March – reflecting a slowdown in the broader bond markets – but there has been a distinct rise in the use of social and sustainability bonds to fund initiatives to alleviate the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. Funding for issues such as the supply of medical equipment in developing countries and maintenance of infrastructure will continue to be prioritised by investors in the next few weeks, SEB predicted.

BNP Paribas has donated over $55m (€50m) to more than thirty countries to help them tackle COVID-19. The French bank’s aid will be used to support hospitals, medical research, and institutions that provide essential relief and recovery services to vulnerable individuals.