Daily ESG Briefing: Impact investing body to fund 16 projects to bolster measurement and disclosure

The latest developments in sustainable finance

The Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing (TPF) will award 16 organisations – including CDP, the Global Impact Investing Network and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board – $3.3m in combined grants to improve data, metrics and measurement in impact investing. Set up in 2019 with $14m in philanthropic seed funding, TPF seeks to scale credible impact investment. PolicyLink, another non-profit to secure a TPF grant, will develop an ‘investor blueprint for racial equality’. The Shareholder Commons will use its grant to look at corporate behavioural change and value creation based on ‘double materiality’. BlueMark will publish a report on impact performance assurance, while Ceres will develop a protocol for such assurance. The Predistribution Initiative will lead the creation of a Taskforce on Inequality-related Financial Disclosures. B-Lab will develop new performance requirements for B Corps. C4i will explore stronger assurance of ESG data for corporate reporting, and ICM will produce resources for private investors on impact. 

The Baltimore City Council has voted unanimously to divest the city's three pension funds from fossil fuel companies listed on the Carbon Underground 200 within five years. The exclusion list covers publicly-traded coal and oil & gas companies with the biggest reserves. Councilman Mark Conway, the architect of the bill, wrote this week that, upon receiving the mayor’s signature, "Baltimore will have joined a global movement to put our money where our mouth is and part ways with the companies doing irreparable harm to our planet and its people. We are also following in the footsteps of our predecessors in City Hall, who divested from apartheid South Africa and from the Sudanese regime during the Darfur genocide.” New York City and Washington DC are among other US cities to adopt fossil-fuel divestment policies for their pension funds. 

Data house Equilar has teamed up with campaign group Disability:IN to develop a data category for “disability self-identification”. The pair claim it is “the first partnership dedicated to advancing boardroom diversity through the inclusion of business executives with disabilities”. The candidate profiles of senior executives and board members will be used to accumulate data to help companies find talent with disabilities, and report on progress around diversity and inclusion.

HSBC, Macquarie, Bank of America, Nat West and JP Morgan are among 12 banks to publicly back the development of a new sustainable infrastructure label, along with State Street and Lloyds of London. Through the ‘FAST-Infra’ initiative – convened by the Climate Policy Initiative, HSBC, the IFC, OECD and Global Infrastructure Facility – the group will help create a Sustainable Infrastructure Label for projects that “positively contribute to sustainable outcomes”. The global label, currently under consultation, is intended to be particularly helpful in driving investment into emerging markets. 

Aberdeen Standard Investments has launched an Asia-Pacific Sustainability Institute led by Danielle Welsh-Rose, the firm’s regional ESG Investment Director. The body will pull together Aberdeen’s ESG experts globally, and will be advised by a Sustainable Investment Advisory Board chaired by Asia Pacific CEO René Buehlmann. It will engage with policymakers, and work with asset owners on ESG, stewardship and Net Zero issues. It will also provide training and education to investors, and create investment products. 

Climate activism group 350.org is turning its attention to the US Federal Reserve with a new campaign urging President Joe Biden to appoint a “climate champion” to chair the central banking system. The Fed itself should align its spending and asset purchasing programmes with the Paris Agreement and push US investment banks to finance the economy’s decarbonisation, with a focus on lending to low-income communities and communities of colour.