Daily ESG Briefing: Border to Coast outlines plans to get to Net Zero

The latest developments in sustainable finance

UK pension pool Border to Coast has become the latest to make a Net Zero pledge. The £55bn pool – which runs money for 11 local authorities – has launched its first standalone Climate Change Policy and plans to set out a roadmap for achieving Net Zero by 2050 over the next 12 months. This will include interim 2030 targets, creating “investment propositions” aligned with the goal, investing in green solutions and working with peers to improve data and disclosure – especially for fixed-income and private markets. The pool will also prioritise engagement with policymakers, regulators and companies, and revise its stewardship strategy to include “a clear escalation and voting policy that is consistent with being Net Zero across its investments by 2050 or sooner” – voting against the chairs of high emitting companies with inadequate climate policies. It plans to exit pureplay coal and tar sands firms and support climate shareholder resolutions that aligned with its new policy, it added.  

Austria’s climate ministry is recruiting members for a new “alliance” under the government’s Green Finance Agenda – a pillar of its upcoming national development and resilience plan. The alliance will “provide financial companies with a voluntary commitment to the Paris climate goals with the mandatory fulfillment of specific criteria for their core business”, according to a statement. Members will be supported in efforts to increase their range of green financial products and activities, to manage climate risk, and to comply with the EU’s new Taxonomy and Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. “The Green Finance Alliance is aimed at all those financial companies that are already operating in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner, as well as those who are not yet but seriously striving to do so,” the Ministry said. Applications are open until January. 

ShareAction has created a framework to help investors understand the impact of their portfolios on health issues – a topic the NGO describes as a “huge blind spot for ESG investors". ShareAction has also established a programme dedicated to kick-starting collaborative engagements and supporting more sophisticated approaches to health in stewardship activities. 

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has launched a taxonomy for its standards using “extensible business reporting language” – an existing way of tagging financial reports in a uniform way. The SASB Standards XBRL Taxonomy has been launched through the Value Reporting Foundation, which is a merger between SASB and the International Integrated Reporting Council. As part of the launch, the foundation has created an XBRL Taxonomy Review Committee composed of experts from companies, software providers, data aggregators, audit bodies and regulators.

Hundreds of financial institutions with nearly $30trn of assets under management have joined forces to ask big emitters including BASF, Lufthansa, Samsung, The Southern Company and Tata Steel to adopt science-based climate targets. The initiative, coordinated by non-profit CDP, has seen a 60% surge in investor backing since its announcement last year. Among the investors leading the call are Amundi, Allianz, Credit Agricole, DWS, Legal & General Investment Management, MFS Investment Management, Cathay Financial Holding Co, Insight Investment Management, and Manulife. Corporates such as L’Oréal, Renault, Bayer, AstraZeneca and HP – who are seeking to decarbonise their supply chains – have also backed the request. Altogether, 1,600 companies are being asked to develop credible climate targets ahead of COP26 in November.