Daily ESG Briefing: SASB and GRI “join forces” on non-financial reporting

The latest developments in sustainable finance

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has teamed up with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to launch a "collaborative workplan" – acknowledging that the sustainability disclosure landscape “can appear complicated”. The standard-setters aim to show how the two standards can work together and the plan “may identify opportunities to consider how the GRI and SASB standards may be developed in the future”. “Real-world” examples are planned to be delivered before the end of 2020 and it is expected there will be “further collaboration opportunities”.

BNP Paribas Asset Management has released a survey that has found that, post-Covid 19, ESG has become an even greater focus for 23% of respondents: 81% of respondents already employ ESG in all or part of their portfolios and a further 16% plan to do so. It said there is a “clear emergence” of the importance of social considerations highlighted by an increase of 20 percentage points since the onset of the pandemic. The survey was conducted by Greenwich Associates.

Australia’s First State Super will divest from thermal coal mining from October 2020. It is one of the key actions it has committed to as part of its Climate Change Portfolio Transition Plan. “We believe climate change is one of the most significant long-term risks to our portfolio – and therefore our members’ retirement outcomes,” the fund said. Our Plan is a roadmap to transition our portfolio to a low carbon economy and protect our members’ retirement savings.” There would be a minimum 30% reduction in emissions in First State Super’s listed equities portfolio by 2023, which will also incorporate the introduction of a new low-carbon index as well as an “ongoing review” of the Fund’s energy portfolio mix to mitigate the potential for stranded assets.

There has been a warning that so-called ‘big livestock’ – the industrial farming sector – is just as damaging to the planet as the fossil fuel industry. A study by campaign group Feedback called Butchering the Plant said investors and banks have spent hundreds of billions of dollars supporting "destructive" global meat and dairy companies.

The economic benefits of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and ocean outweigh the costs by at least five to one, according to a new report. Protecting 30% of the planet for nature: costs, benefits and economic implications was commissioned by the Campaign for Nature.

A platform on sustainable finance has been set up by the European Commission. It said that Article 20 of the Taxonomy Regulation creates the advisory body subject to the Commission’s “horizontal rules” for expert groups and will be composed of experts from the private and public sector. The group of experts will have four main tasks: Advise on the technical screening criteria for the EU Taxonomy, including on the usability of the criteria; Advise the Commission on the review of the Taxonomy Regulation; Monitor and report on capital flows towards sustainable investments; Advise on sustainable finance policy more broadly. The deadline for applications is July 16.

The Rocky Mountain Institute, the clean energy not-for-profit group, has launched a center for climate-aligned finance with Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. It’s a follow-on to last year's Poseidon Principles.

The pension fund for UN employees will start reporting against the TCFD recommendations and has signed on to the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (NZAOA), an initiative committing to transition investment portfolios to net zero emissions by 2050. The NZAOA, also convened by the UN, was launched in September last year.