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Daily ESG Briefing: Robeco, Church of England Pensions Board face pressure over Shell

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Six campaign groups including the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Greenpeace have written to Robeco and the Church of England Pensions Board asking them and other investors to vote against Shell’s climate transition plan at its AGM, claiming that it is not ambitious enough. Robeco and the Church of England are responsible for engaging with Shell on behalf of members of shareholder network Climate Action 100+. The Church of England Pensions Board told Bloomberg that it was in talks with Shell, and would make a judgement on the transition plan when it was published. Robeco declined to comment.

The New York State pension fund has divested from tar sands companies over poor transition planning and misalignment with the Paris Agreement. The fund has exited seven firms involved in tar sands: Imperial Oil, Canadian Natural Resources, Husky Energy, MEG Energy Corp., Athabasca Oil Corporation, Cenovus Energy, and Japan Petroleum Exploration. It has placed two further firms, Suncor Energy and Tatneft, on a watch list, to be reassessed next year. The divestment is the latest step in the fund’s review of its fossil fuel holdings, and will be followed by a review of its shale oil and gas investments.

Beverage company Keurig Dr Pepper has committed to cut its use of virgin plastic in packaging by 20% by 2025 after engagement by As You Sow. The shareholder advocacy group has now withdrawn a shareholder proposal on the topic – one of 10 it has filed with consumer goods companies and retailers this proxy season over packaging. 

New Zealand has moved forward with plans to make around 200 of its companies report on climate risk and opportunity. Banks, insurers, and equity and debt issuers over NZ$1bn (€591m) will be required to disclose the potential impacts of climate change under the proposed Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosure and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, starting in 2023. Disclosures will be made in accordance with standards to be issued by the External Reporting Board.

UNICEF has published guidance for investors on how to integrate children’s rights into ESG analysis. It said that despite children being one third of the global population, “investors’ human rights policies seldom reflect the special considerations that businesses need to make to respect children’s rights”.

The Hong Kong Green Finance Association is conducting a survey on ESG capacity building, which aims to identify significant gaps and help shape measures in meeting talent needs.