Daily ESG Briefing: Generali ramps up green investments and tightens coal exclusion criteria

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Generali will commit up to €9.5bn in green investments over the next four years, and will decarbonise its investment portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement. The Italian insurance company issued an updated climate strategy yesterday which also includes a roadmap for phasing out its thermal coal investments and underwriting, aiming to exit coal in OECD countries by 2030 and globally by 2040. It will also no longer insure upstream oil and gas activities.

The £29bn endowment foundation Wellcome has committed its investment portfolio to net zero by 2050, the largest commitment by a UK charity. The foundation said that it would not divest from companies, given that many high-emitters in its portfolio, including BP and Shell, have already made net zero commitments. External analysis shows that the carbon footprint of its public equity holdings is already 30% below the global benchmark. Wellcome also committed to reporting its decarbonisation progress annually, and has joined the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change. 

Nest has switched $2bn of bond allocation into Wells Fargo Asset Management’s newly launched climate transition strategy. The strategy identifies firms which are best placed to transition to net zero, as well as applying targeted exclusions. The initial portfolio carbon intensity will be at least 30% below the benchmark.

Water impact data should be included in corporate financial reporting where it is material and decision-useful, according to a joint report by Impax Asset Management and AP7 on assessing, measuring and reporting on water impact. The report criticises existing water reporting frameworks for not putting sufficient focus on water quality and pollution, and not covering enough elements of water impact. The pair have developed a “water impact metric dashboard” which they say provides a closer assessment of the most relevant water impact metrics. 

Sustainalytics has launched its EU Taxonomy Solution, which allows institutional investors to view the alignment of companies and individual activities with the climate change mitigation objective of the Taxonomy. According to Sustainalytics, the solution allows investors to flag companies which do not comply with minimum safeguards or ‘do no significant harm’ criteria as well as use alignment assessments to build sustainable portfolios.

Deloitte has suggested including the term ‘reporting’ in the name of the forthcoming International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) – which is to be established by accountancy body the IFRS Foundation to oversee  new global climate and ESG reporting standards – to “place the ISSB’s standards as of equivalent status to ‘financial reporting’ standards”. Deloitte also called for “a transparent mechanism” to facilitate collaboration between the International Accounting Standards Board, the IFRS body which oversees financial reporting standards, and the ISSB.

Lawyers acting for two members of Australian QSuper have sent it a legal letter asking it to improve its management of climate risk. The letter, sent by Equity Generation Lawyers, asks the fund to explain why it delayed measurement of its carbon exposure, to fully disclose its equity holdings and to clarify actions it is taking to achieve net zero, including divestment plans. 

59% of sustainability claims made by UK fashion brands fall short of Competition and Markets Authority guidance on green claims, according to a new report by the Changing Markets Foundation. The report analysed sustainability claims made by retailers’ online stores, finding that just two in five were backed up by a third-party verification and that some firms claimed their products were recyclable despite the recycling technology to do so not being in place.