Daily ESG Briefing: Renewables outperform fossil fuels, says IEA/Imperial study

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Publicly-traded renewable energy portfolios have posted significantly higher returns and lower volatility than fossil fuels over the past decade, but still fail to attract investment, according to new research from the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College Business School. A report, done in partnership with the International Energy Agency, focuses on the performance of listed companies in the US, UK, Germany and France that are engaged in fossil fuel supply or renewables. “The results indicate that renewable power shares have offered investors significantly higher total returns relative to fossil fuels,” it says. “Just as importantly, annualised volatility is also lower across the board.” 

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) will lead a series of online roundtables inviting pension schemes, the wider financial services industry and other stakeholders to give their views on how the retirement savings sector can address climate risk and help the UK achieve its climate commitments. The PLSA is also launching a call for evidence on a number of issues, including the practical challenges to implementing climate-aware investment strategies. 

Mining group Rio Tinto blasted a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site of “staggering significance” over the weekend, to expand an iron ore mine in Australia, according to reports. The company was given permission in 2013 to blast the Juukan Gorge cave in the remote Pilbara region, destroying ancient rock shelters that provided a 4,000-year-old genetic link to present-day traditional owners. 

The first call for proposals to the EU’s Innovation Fund will soon be launched. The fund will support innovative technologies and flagship projects that can lead to significant emission reductions. The €10bn project aims to boost growth and competitiveness by empowering EU companies with a first-mover advantage to become global technology leaders and support innovative low-carbon technologies across Member States. 

Standard Ethics has downgraded Sweden's sovereign sustainability rating to EEE- from EEE after the country failed to implement a health policy that complied with World Health Organisation recommendations during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Standard Ethics analysts believe that this produced additional risks for the Swedish and wider European population.

Greenpeace has published a new report revealing that both Credit Suisse and UBS continue to finance fossil fuel companies despite pledging to protect the environment. According to the report, since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, the pair have enabled the emission of 290.1m tonnes of CO2, which corresponds to more annual CO2 emissions than was emitted by the entire population and industry in Switzerland.