Daily ESG Briefing: NNIP accuses State Bank of India of greenwashing as it axes green bonds from portfolios

The latest developments in sustainable finance

NN Investment Partners has revealed that it has booted green bonds issued by the State Bank of India out of its investment universe. In a LinkedIn post, NNIP’s Lead Portfolio Manager for Green Bonds, Bram Bos, said “we decided today to downgrade green bonds from a large Indian bank to non-green, which makes them ineligible for our green bond portfolios”. Although he did not name the bank, he described it as an Indian issuer of green bonds which is also considering lending to the Carmichael coal mine, run by Adani. State Bank of India has been under growing pressure from European investors including Amundi to refuse loans to Adani on climate grounds. “Even if they would not go ahead with the controversial loan, the bank's policies are not supportive to help us move to clean energy in the future and makes their green bond a form of ‘greenwashing’ in our view. What is also very disturbing is their lack of openness and unwillingness to engage with investors!” continued Bos. 

US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Chairman, Jay Clayton, has voted to pass a watered down version of a rule that originally sought to force extractive companies to disclose the payments they make to governments in countries in which they operate. First introduced in 2010, the rule was repealed in 2016, and looks set to be replaced with a more industry-friendly version, which NGO Publish What You Pay Us claims includes “an entirely novel definition of oil, gas, and mining projects that was copied directly from a submission to the SEC by the American Petroleum Institute”.

Every S&P 500 board now includes at least one woman for the first time in history, after a spate of female appointments in 2020. Of the 413 new independent directors appointed to S&P 500 company boards this year, 59% were women and “minority men”, according to a report from advisory firm Spencer Stuart.

The European Commission has received 11,772 responses to the latest consultation on its taxonomy to define ‘green’ business activities. The four-week feedback period, which closes tomorrow, is on the proposed technical details of the taxonomy. Most of the submissions are from respondents that describe themselves as EU citizens, rather than companies or institutions.

The European Ombudsman has launched a formal inquiry into the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) €935m loan to parts of the Southern Gas Corridor, after a complaint by a consortium of NGOs that the bank materially downplayed the fossil fuel project’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to CEE Bankwatch Network, Counter Balance, Re:Common and Friends of the Earth Europe, the EIB greenlighted loans for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and the Trans Anatolian Pipeline using outdated data and without properly assessing their climate impact; the coalition argue a more truthful estimation should have factored in emissions resulting from both the extraction of the gas at the Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan, its entire transportation, and its eventual use in power plants in Europe.

Today 28.9% of investors backed a shareholder resolution at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s (ANZ) annual general meeting, calling for reductions in exposure to the coal, oil, and gas sectors, consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The vote, which is almost double the 14.9% support received by a similar resolution lodged with ANZ last year, follows the multinational bank’s commitment to exit direct finance for thermal coal by 2030 in October. 

BP has acquired a majority stake in America’s largest developer of forest-based carbon offset projects, Finite Carbon. The fossil giant will bring the firm into its in-house business accelerator, BP Launchpad. Sean Carney, founder of Finite Carbon, said: “Thanks to this unique partnership with bp, Finite Carbon now has the resources of a global energy company behind it to help address this enormous environmental challenge and help small landowners access this market.”