Daily ESG Briefing: Credit Suisse, HSBC, Julius Baer and UBS accused of screening Hong Kong clients for pro-democracy links

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Credit Suisse, HSBC, Julius Baer and UBS are screening Hong Kong-based clients for potential links to the city’s pro-democracy movement, according to a Bloomberg report. The move by the wealth managers comes after China introduced a new security law in Hong Kong which has been criticised for severely curtailing civil and political freedoms. In recent weeks, HSBC and Standard Chartered were rebuked by top shareholders after publicly backing the law.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched a new group to develop guidance on the procurement of renewable energy and carbon offsets for the built environment sector. The group’s work will build on UKGBC’s Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Framework, which aims to build industry consensus on the definition of net zero carbon building. 

The UK Sustainable Investment Forum has written to John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, regarding the UK Government’s 2019 commitment to “match the ambition” of the EU’s sustainable finance reforms regardless of the outcome of the UK’s exit from the EU. The letter also urges the government to bring forward plans to create a UK version of the EU’s sustainable finance reforms and onshore key EU finance policy. 

Almost all of S&P’s 1,200 ESG-related rating actions in April and May were “directly triggered” by Covid-19, it has said in a new report. The ratings giant has launched a new monthly update called ESG Pulse, and its first edition includes claims the pandemic may drive social and political instability because of the disproportionate impact on low-income workers in both developed and emerging markets. It has not included companies impacted through secondary developments such as the oil slump or economic downturn in the research. 

There has been a 3.5x increase in Principles for Responsible Investment signatories reporting in accordance with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. In its latest Climate Snapshot, the PRI said it “estimated our signatory base at the end of March 2019 to represent approximately 24% of all asset owners and 74% of all investment managers globally by AUM, which can be seen as a ballpark figure of those who have responded this year”.