Daily ESG Briefing: Coal links could see Liberty Mutual booted out of PRI after just four months

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Liberty Mutual could face expulsion from Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) over its backing of a new coal mine in Australia. The US insurer only signed up to the initiative in December, but its membership is already under review by PRI’s board following a formal complaint from campaigners. Chief Executive Fiona Reynolds told Reuters that “ultimately a complaint goes to the PRI board and can result in a signatory being delisted”.

JPMorgan is adopting new policies on deforestation following a shareholder proposal by Green Century Funds. The commitment seeks to help raise performance standards in forestry and biodiversity for its companies. Palm oil, cattle, paper, cocoa, mining and infrastructure are among the industries that will be affected by the new measures.

Bank of America plans to commit $1tn to its Environmental Business Initiative by 2030, it has said – a substantial increase on its previous goal of $300bn. The bank says money will be allocated to renewable energy, sustainable transportation and agriculture, improved forestry and pollution control measures.

President Biden plans to issue an executive order on climate disclosure, US climate envoy John Kerry told an IMF meeting this week. The details and timing of the order are not yet confirmed. He added the move could “change allocation of capital” because “suddenly people are going to be making evaluations considering long-term risk to the investment based on the climate crisis”.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has slammed the Australian government’s decision to appoint two ‘fossil fuel lobbyists’ to the Climate Change Authority. Grant King, ex-CEO of Origin Energy, and Susie Smith, who has lobbied against stronger climate action, have been named to the group. Dan Gocher of the ACCR said the move “further entrench[es] the fossil fuel lobby in bodies responsible for dealing with the climate crisis”.

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has put forward 15 policy recommendations for a post-pandemic America in his annual letter to shareholders this week, including better wages for low-skilled work, better job opportunities for those with a criminal record, easier access to healthcare and improved social safety net programmes. Separately, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has acknowledged the need for a cultural change at the company, which has been accused of harbouring widespread racial and sexual harassment, in his shareholder letter, also released yesterday. The company has announced an independent review of its diversity and inclusion practices and has signed a $4.4bn credit facility linked to staff diversity targets.