Daily ESG Briefing: Rockefeller Foundation sets $1bn renewables plan

The latest developments in sustainable finance

The Rockefeller Foundation is committing $1bn to power a “green and inclusive” recovery, with a focus on accelerating access to renewable energy for what it terms “the unconnected and underserved” populations concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It will focus on driving public-private infrastructure investment to roll out grid-scale renewables and scale up distributed renewable technology.

Swiss wealth manager Julius Baer will reportedly withhold millions of francs in bonuses from its former CEOs Boris Collardi and Bernhard Hodler. The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, said it was the result of a South American money-laundering scandal that took place under their watch.

The Japan Exchange Group, operator of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, says it will “strive to make a more active contribution toward building a sustainable society” given the rapidly expanding focus on ESG in the financial and capital markets. The commitment comes in its new 2020 report.

Black Women in Asset Management – a group of 300 industry professionals in England and Wales – have called upon asset managers to divest from companies with “business models that perpetuate racial inequities” such as surveillance software producers and private prisons, in addition to supporting “the entry of black women into finance careers”. The demands were made in an open letter which urged fund companies to go beyond “solidarity statements”.

EU member countries have agreed on a legally binding net zero emissions target by 2050, but have pushed back crucial negotiations over a revised emissions target for 2030 to December. Member countries have also endorsed the EU biodiversity strategy which aims to preserve at least a third of the bloc’s land and seas by 2030. Separately, the EU parliament has been criticised for backing changes to the EU’s common agricultural policy which environmentalists say could worsen the climate crisis. This includes the reversal of a ban on converting protected natural sites to farmland and allowing the continued drainage of carbon-storing peatlands.

US-based ‘robo-advisor’ Betterment has launched new elements of its Socially Responsible Investment portfolio, now known as the Broad Impact portfolio, that will allow customers to invest for environmental and social impact. The Climate Impact portfolio will focus on mitigating climate change, featuring three global allocations: companies with the lowest carbon footprints within every sector; towards funds which specifically exclude companies holding fossil fuel reserves; towards "green bonds", which fund environmentally beneficial projects across the world. Additionally, the Social Impact portfolio builds on the existing SRI offering, with an extra focus on U.S. companies that value diversity. 

Plant-based meat and dairy have the potential to become a €7.5bn market in Europe by 2025, compared to €4.4bn in 2019, according to new research by ING. In Growth of meat and dairy alternatives is stirring up the European food industry,  ING's Senior Economist, Thijs Geijer, explained that there are, however, three barriers that will determine the future growth: bridging the price gap with animal-based products, improving user experience (through better taste and nutritional profile), and increasing distribution and availability.