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Daily ESG Briefing: Amundi, BlackRock, Standard Chartered, Australia

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Imperial College Business School will provide staff and board member training on climate risk at Standard Chartered as part of a four-year project funded by the bank. The pair are working together to develop new solutions in the field of climate change risk management. The project will be led by Imperial’s Centre for Climate Finance & Investment and include research into policy impact on global trade and how energy companies can navigate a zero-carbon transition.

BlackRock has given 15.6 million shares of PennyMac Financial Services to its charitable arm, creating a foundation “to advance a more inclusive and sustainable economy”. The investment heavyweight says the shares – which constitutes its remaining 20% stake in PennyMac – have a market value of $589m. BlackRock will receive around $240m in tax benefits from the move. Its Social Impact Team will lead the philanthropic work, identifying funds and partners.

A shortage of social impact investment opportunities with transparent measurement and financial performance is a major barrier to growth says Australia’s Social Impact Investing Taskforce. It has released an interim report to the Australian government with a final report to be submitted to the government in June. Elsewhere, one of the first reports analysing the impact investment market in Italy finds total capital used for impact since 2006 in the country has been €8bn.

Overall support for climate change related shareholder proposals in Australia dropped nearly 25% on average between 2018 and 2019, according to an analysis of 50 of the country’s largest superannuation funds by shareholder advocacy group the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR). “The decline in support for climate change related shareholder proposals in Australia in 2019 is the exact opposite of what most members would expect their super funds to be doing in a time of climate crisis”, said ACCR’s  Director of Climate and Environment, Dan Gocher.

Europe’s largest asset manager, Amundi has reportedly announced that it will back the shareholder proposal at Barclays calling on the UK bank to wind down its financing of fossil fuel firms not aligned with the Paris climate goals. The resolution, coordinated by shareholder advocacy group ShareAction, was filed last month and believed to be the first of its kind to be put to a European bank.

BP's new CEO, Bernard Looney, has committed the oil major to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This will be done by offsetting all hydrocarbons from its upstream operations to eliminate Scope 3 emissions and winding down parts of its operations. However, Looney did not give a definitive answer on whether the BP would halt future exploration, saying that the company would be in oil and gas "for a very long time".