Daily ESG Briefing: BHP says it will work with lobby groups on standards and strategy

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Investors in engagement network Climate Action 100+ are celebrating a commitment from mining heavyweight BHP on lobbying. The firm has released a new policy outlining its expectations from industry associations, including a pledge to collaborate over coming months to establish public standards and plans for which topics they will take up. It will then monitor the industry associations ‘in real time’ to make sure activities are aligned with its own positions. Lobbying activities are increasingly in the spotlight by investors, with CA100+ identifying the issue as a focus area of its work over the next few years.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren has slammed Jay Clayton for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) approach to climate risk. In a 9-page letter to the SEC Chairman, Warren said: “It is distressing that by ignoring these climate risks, the SEC, under your leadership, is not fulfilling its mission to ‘protect investors’ and ‘maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets’,” quoting the body’s description of its own mandate. She calls for immediate actions to be taken to step up and protect investors from climate-related financial risks. 

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility has coordinated a letter from 59 investors, representing $2.5trn in assets, to 17 pharmaceutical companies, asking them to commit to ensuring widespread access to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, including affordable pricing and the sharing of technology to scale-up manufacturing. Companies who received the letter include: AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Pfizer, Novartis, Regeneron, Roche, Sanofi, and Vertex. The investors emphasised that many of these companies have received public funding to address the pandemic and are, therefore, obligated to deliver solutions that will help the majority of citizens.

Analysts at HSBC have said that meat producer JBS “has no vision, action plan, timeline, technology or solution” to monitor whether its cows originate from farms involved in rainforest destruction. The bank, which invests in JBS, cited a recent investigation by the Bureau, the Guardian and Repórter Brasil, which alleges JBS’s trucks had moved cows from a ranch that was under sanction due to illegal deforestation to a 'clean' farm, which in turn sold cattle onto JBS abattoirs. The collaborative investigation has led to calls for supermarkets and fast food chains to cease trading with JBS. JBS has disputed the findings.

Morgan Stanley has launched a Sustainable Solutions Accelerator, which awards innovations around systemic change for sustainability with $250,000, a year-long partnership with Morgan Stanley and ongoing access to a collaborative, cross-sector forum to help scale up projects.

The world’s largest infrastructure manager, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has announced  a programme to better understand and reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of its more than 120 infrastructure portfolio companies. This comes alongside the release of its first Infrastructure Sustainability Report.