Daily ESG Briefing: Plastics resolution at Amazon AGM gets 35% support

The latest developments in sustainable finance

A resolution at Amazon’s AGM calling on the company to cut its use of single plastics has received 35% shareholder support. The resolution, filed by As You Sow and Green Century Funds and supported by ISS, asked for disclosures on how much packaging “escaped” into the environment and strategies to reduce plastic uses, as well as for Amazon to evaluate opportunities to reduce its use. After engagement from As You Sow on similar resolutions, Keurig Dr Pepper, Mondelex, PepsiCo, Target and Walmart have all agreed to implement plastic reduction targets.

Exxon has confirmed that Alexander Karsner has been elected alongside fellow Engine No. 1 nominees Gregory Goff and Kaisa Hietala to its board. According to preliminary results filed with the SEC, Karsner received 1.1m votes, while Engine No. 1’s fourth nominee, former head of Vestas Anders Runevad, received just 272,000. 

Meanwhile, the Church Commissioners for England said it is “cautiously optimistic following the apparent appointment to Exxon’s board of three directors proposed by Engine No1”  but if the company fails to demonstrate sufficient progress on its transition strategy the faith investor “would expect to divest from Exxon”. 

EU member states have agreed on the legislative text for new ‘country-by-country’ tax reporting rules which will apply to EU companies with revenues above €750m. However, the draft rules – which will still need to be formally adopted – have been criticised by the European Network on Debt and Development for allowing companies to withhold information deemed "commercially sensitive"  and for not recognising a number of offshore tax havens.

The EU has announced a partnership with Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy, aiming to funnel $1bn into clean tech and sustainable energy projects. The partnership will initially focus on EU-based projects in four areas: green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air carbon capture and long-duration energy storage, and aims to scale technologies currently too expensive to compete.

The Bank for International Settlements, NGFS, IAS and Sustainable Insurance Forum have launched a “centralised climate training platform” for central banks and supervisors. The Central Banks and Supervisors Climate Training Alliance aims to build capacity on climate risk and improve knowledge sharing. The announcement was made at the ‘Green Swan’ conference on central banking and climate stability in the face of climate change, which also saw the announcement by Al Gore of a new investment business dedicated to climate led investment, and that an updated set of climate scenarios will be released by the NGFS on Monday.

BBVA has become the first Spanish bank to join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials. The partnership aims to develop and implement a consistent approach to assessing and disclosing financed GHG emissions, and counts as its members over 120 banks and investors with financial assets in excess of $39tn. 

The £24bn Strathclyde Pension Fund has said it has put fossil fuel companies “on notice” and is prepared to divest if they do not take their responsibilities on climate and emissions seriously. 

The TCFD has launched a public consultation on its proposed guidance on climate metrics, targets and transition plans, as well as its portfolio alignment technical supplement. It will be holding two webinars on the consultation on the 9th and 10th of June.

The London Stock Exchange has been put under monitoring by Standard Ethics. LSEG retains its EEE- rating – the second highest available, but Standard Ethics said its analysts had noted the steps taken by financial sector participants to align with “international sustainability indications”, including on carbon neutrality and AI, and that under its methodology, LSEG “has had the opportunity to be more effective in its international alignment in these areas”.

2° Investing Initiative has launched a new advisory group to advise on a new governance approach for the Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment scenario analysis and alignment methodology. The main task of the group, which includes Jennifer de Nijs from the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance, Nicolette Bartlett from CDP and Jared Westheim from Goldman Sachs, will be to propose a long-term governance framework for the methodology.

Søren Skou, CEO of AP Moller Maersk, has called for a carbon tax on ship fuel of at least $450 a tonne, which would work out to a carbon price of $150 a tonne. In a post on Linkedin, Skou said that the levy would bridge the gap between current carbon intensive ship fuels and their greener, but more expensive, counterparts.