Daily ESG Briefing: Bank of America puts $314m into NY Green Bank in first private-sector fundraise

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Bank of America has invested $314m in New York’s state-backed NY Green Bank in its first private capital raise. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the green bank – which has been profitable since 2017 – said it would use the money to accelerate its investments without tapping public funds. NY Green Bank provides capital to project developers and others that may not be able to access it through traditional lenders and investors. It has invested around $1.6bn so far, and its current $790m pipeline includes renewables, energy efficiency and green transport.

The firm behind controversial plans to expand an oil field in the North Sea is part-owned by a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment, RI can reveal. Siccar Point Energy – which holds a 70% stake in the Cambo field, alongside Shell – received $500m in investment from private equity firms Blue Water Energy and Blackstone in 2014. Blue Water, which did not respond to requests for comment, joined the PRI in September 2020. Robeco and the Church of England Pensions Board, which lead engagement with Shell on behalf of members of engagement network Climate Action 100+, declined to comment on the plans, which campaigners have urged the UK Government to block.

Moody’s ESG Solutions has launched a tool to measure the alignment of companies with the UN Global Compact. The tool scores some 5,000 listed firms between 0 and 100 based on the Global Compact’s human rights, labour rights, environmental and anti-corruption principles; and allows negative screening for contravening activities.

The French National Contact Point (NCP), which was created to promote the OECD’s rules on business and human rights in France, has called on Paris-based call centre firm Teleperformance to strengthen its due diligence and stakeholder engagement processes to ensure workers rights – including the right to collective bargaining – are respected. A formal grievance was lodged with the NCP by domestic and global unions, who accused the CAC40 company of union busting and allegedly allowing unsanitary working conditions at its call centres in April 2020, with one worker describing the conditions as “subhuman”. 

14% of environmental and social shareholder proposals were passed in the first half of 2021 – more than double the three-year average (6%), according to a report by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance. The report also described the ousting of Toshiba executives at its 2021 AGM over allegations of collusion to influence stakeholder votes as “a watershed moment in Japanese activism that may catalyze further scrutiny of Japan’s corporate governance system”.

Legal & General and the Natwest Group Pension Fund have partnered with developer Inspired Villages on a £500m project to build Net Zero ‘later living communities’. The 15-year initiative will see Natwest take a 50% stake in Inspired Villages’ first 11 sites, with a commitment to back a further 35 sites with a gross development value of £4bn. 

US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has accused the country’s insurance industry of providing “a financial lifeline for the industries fueling the destruction of our planet”. The Democratic Senator for Rhode Island said that the industry’s trade associations were “at the heart of the opposition” to action on climate change, and said it was time for the insurance industry to “wake up” and stop underwriting fossil fuel expansion, as well as phasing out coverage for existing fossil fuels.

2021 will be the first time China’s non-fossil power generation exceeds its coal-fired power capacity, according to the China Electricity Council, which estimates that the country’s total generation capacity will reach 2,370 GW by the end of the year, with 1,100 GW generated from coal versus 1120 GW from non-fossil fuel sources. It is expected that China’s solar capacity will increase by 65GW over the period.