Daily ESG Briefing: Companies ‘significantly’ behind on tax disclosure, says research from FTSE and PRI

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Tax disclosures by major listed companies significantly lag behind disclosures on other ESG issues, according to a new report by FTSE Russell and the Principles for Responsible Investment. Only 34% of the 1,300 companies surveyed have commitments or policies on tax transparency in place, versus 87% for Climate Change. Only 7% of large-cap listed companies report on a county-by-country basis, and only 1% of healthcare companies. Europe leads the way on disclosure, thanks in part to mandatory disclosures in the UK, while Chinese companies are at the bottom of the list.

Shell will accelerate its plans to cut GHG emissions after losing a case in the Netherlands, its CEO has said. In a post on LinkedIn, Ben van Beurden said “first response [to the ruling] was surprise”, and said that Shell would appeal, but added that the oil major would seek to reduce its emissions beyond the targets set out in its decarbonisation strategy. The statement was welcomed by the Church of England Pensions Board, which co-leads engagement with Shell on behalf of Climate Action 100+.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and the International Integrated Reporting Council have officially announced their merger into the Value Reporting Foundation. The new foundation will work closely with the IFRS Foundation and other global framework providers and standard setters to develop a more coherent corporate reporting system. 

Canada-based energy company TC Energy has confirmed the termination of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. President Biden revoked the permit for the pipeline, which was due to run from Alberta to Nebraska where it would join a pre-existing pipeline, on his first day of office. It had previously drawn criticism from environmental campaigners and indigenous rights groups, and a number of major banks had pulled out of lending to the project as a result. 

The University of Sydney has launched a sustainable investment strategy, and will divest from fossil fuel firms which “demonstrate no commitment to a low-carbon transition”. The university says that the strategy will align its portfolio with the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050. The announcement follows decisions by a number of other educational institutions to divest fossil fuels or align their portfolios with Net Zero in the past year. Both Harvard and Oxford universities have announced plans to divest and lower the carbon intensity of their investment portfolios in the past year.

Schneider Electric has come top out of the CAC 40 companies in an ESG ratings exercise run by the French Forum for Responsible Investment (FIR). FIR asked each of the companies in the index 12 questions on social responsibility themes, which were then analysed by ESG professionals and given a rating out of three. Schneider was followed by Orange in second place, and BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Michelin in third, while Airbus, Luxottica and Arcelormittal came bottom.

Persefoni has incorporated financed emissions standards from the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials into its accounting platform. Persefoni claims that the integration will allow PCAF partners to measure and report on their financed emissions up to 10 times faster than before.