Daily ESG Briefing: Diversity claims are ‘another form of greenwashing’, expert tells UK investment industry

The latest developments in sustainable finance

The CEO of City Hive, a UK-based organisation focused on diversity and inclusion in the private sector, has slammed the investment industry for “the lack of real, genuine action by the sector and its leadership to prioritise diversity and inclusion”. Bev Shah  penned a letter to the Chief Executives of UK investment managers highlighting that cultural changes must be led from the top of organisations. “While sustainability and ESG are the phrase du jour with many firms stating that it is ingrained in their DNA as investors and employers, we do not see firms meeting their own sustainability responsibilities by prioritising diversity to create a more inclusive and equitable industry,” she said. “It is simply another form of greenwashing.”

The Bank of England has hinted it may attach climate conditions to future corporate bond purchases after coming under fire from UK MPs for missing an opportunity to introduce requirements such as mandatory climate-related financial disclosures into its current corporate bailout scheme. Speaking to the UK Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee yesterday, Sarah Breeden, the bank’s Executive Director for UK Deposit Takers Supervision, said that it is “considering” incorporating such a move “in relation to our corporate bond purchases”. 

A coalition of 18 US attorneys general have thrown their weight behind the legal challenge against the US Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to re-approve the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project. Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the attorneys have filed an amicus brief in support of the legal bid by the Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Oglala Sioux and Yankton Sioux tribes, who argue that the decision to re-approve a key easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline was based on a “still-deficient” National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. 

Oil & gas majors are not “walking the talk” on climate action, according to new research by RepRisk on lobbying –  an issue the ESG data provider argues is “frequently overlooked by investors”. Its research found that utilities and oil & gas firms lead the way when it comes to incidents of lobbying, which were found to spike during US presidential election years – 2016 and 2020. Last month, Norway’s largest private asset manager Storebrand ditched Exxon and Chevron over climate lobbying.

Attaching environmental conditions to support packages for European airlines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger credit negative outcomes, says Moody’s. Such moves from governments would mean airlines were pushed to invest in new aircrafts at a time when earnings and cash flows are severely strained, the credit ratings agency said, although it stressed that the impacts will be dependent on the specifics of the aid packages offered by EU member states.