Daily ESG Briefing: Aggregate super fund support for ESG proposals dropped in past years, finds ACCR

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Aggregate support for ESG proposals has fallen among superannuation funds in Australasia from 54% in 2018 to 42% in 2020, according to a report from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR). It is the third installment of an annual analysis on the voting behaviour of Australia’s 50 largest super funds. In addition, ACCR found that disclosure of voting records had improved – with eight funds not disclosing their records in 2020, down from 11 in the previous year. 

Companies with stand-alone ESG committees have higher ESG scores, according to a joint study by NN Investment Partners (NN IP) and Glass Lewis. The research shows that companies facing the greatest regulatory pressure to make sustainability disclosures  – such as in the US and Europe – are the most likely to have independent ESG committees in place. ESG performance was assessed according to NN IP’s ESG Lens ratings. 

BNP Paribas Asset Management voted against management or abstained on almost a third of resolutions in 2020, and voted against 58% of executive remuneration packages, according to its 2020 sustainability report. The asset manager supported 94% of shareholder proposals on climate change, as well as opposing 451 management resolutions over climate concerns. During the 2020 proxy season, BNP Paribas engaged with 140 companies on 255 separate issues, with a success rate of just over a quarter.

Major infrastructure investor IFM Investors will divest coal but not oil and gas to meet its climate targets, according to reports. “Divestment might get the emissions down in our portfolio but it does absolutely nothing for the planet’s emissions and it certainly does not help the global economy,” said IFM CEO David Neal in an interview on the subject today. IFM is owned by 23 industry super funds in Australia and has substantial exposure to US oil and gas pipelines.

The Japan Sustainable Investment Forum is currently conducting its annual survey on sustainable investment AUM and trends for Japan. The survey is open until 30 September.  Organisations wishing to participate in this year's survey can contact yoshida@japansif.com (in Japanese) to receive a unique code to validate their entry. The survey is also open to global fund management firms who are managing funds on behalf of Japanese client assets.

 Oman is readying an ESG framework in a bid to increase capital flows and reduce its dependency on oil, according to Reuters. Sources said that the development was currently in its early stages and that the framework was not linked to specific debt issuance plans. Declining oil prices over the past few years has resulted in a widening of Oman’s budget deficit from 15% in 2015 to 80% in 2020.