Daily ESG Briefing: JP Morgan eyes carbon offsetting as it acquires forestry firm

The latest developments in sustainable finance

JP Morgan Asset Management has acquired forest management and timberland investment company Campbell Global from BrightSphere Investment Group for an undisclosed sum. Campbell Global runs $5.3bn and manages more than 1.7m acres of forest worldwide. JP Morgan indicated that the investment house would play a role in its future carbon offsetting plans. Anton Pil, Global Head of JP Morgan Global Alternatives, said the acquisition allowed JP Morgan to “strengthen and diversify our ESG focus, including building a robust carbon sequestration platform”.

NN Investment Partners is setting up a “responsible investing hub” in Singapore, marking its first international expansion. The Dutch asset manager said the move was part of plans to increase its ESG focus in Asia. 

The Pension Fund of the Finnish Evangelical Church has committed to being Net Zero by 2035 as part of a new climate strategy that will see it reduce the carbon intensity of its investments by 25% by 2025 and increase the share of green thematic investments to 10%. It has also pledged to use emission-free thermal energy in all its direct real estate investments. Fellow Finnish investor Evli Bank has also strengthened its climate targets, committing to halve its portfolio emissions by 2030 and become Net Zero by 2050. The bank aims to reach Net Zero in its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025, and will establish a working committee to assess how its reduction targets can be reached in a Paris-aligned manner. 

The UK Financial Conduct Authority has launched two consultations on its plans to require all listed companies as well as asset managers, life insurers and some pension providers to report against TCFD recommendations. The move is part of the UK government's scheduled rollout of mandatory TCFD reporting across the entire UK economy, which is due to be completed by the end of 2025.

The Swiss Government and the Global Reporting Initiative have announced a €3.8m partnership to improve sustainability disclosures in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. The programme will collaborate with national regulators to support sustainability disclosure rules, and engage with government bodies on public sector disclosures, as well as aiming to build reporting capacity and capability in the private sector. 

Consultancy Willis Towers Watson has launched a ‘good governance guide’ for UK pension schemes. The guide, which provides an analysis of the Pension Regulator’s new combined code of practice and guidance for pension schemes compliance, recommends that schemes consider the appointment of an independent professional trustee “to help them navigate the increasing risk and complexity involved in running a pension scheme”. The guide also recommends schemes include an inclusion and diversity lens in all their decision making.

The Church Commissioners voted against management on 17.8% of resolutions in 2020, according to its inaugural stewardship report. The report said that most of its dissenting votes were triggered by executive pay issues, including companies which failed to integrate ESG metrics into their variable pay schemes.

Four large Korean insurance firms have pledged not to insure the construction or operation of coal power plants. DB Insurance, Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, Hanwha General Insurance and Hana Insurance represent almost half of the $52bn Korean coal insurance market. The largest remaining insurer is Samsung Fire and Marine, which has provided $13.26bn of insurance coverage for coal power plants, according to non-profit Solutions for Our Climate. South Korea currently has seven new coal power plants under construction, with the final scheduled plant due to cease operations in 2054.