Daily ESG Briefing: S&P to review Adani Ports’ place in sustainability index

The latest developments in sustainable finance

S&P has agreed to review Adani Ports’ inclusion on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index after pressure from 37 campaign groups including Market Forces. The firm aims for its port operations to be carbon neutral by 2025, but it owns the world’s biggest coal impact terminal and one of its subsidiaries will operate a railway line to transport coal from the controversial Carmichael thermal coal mine in Australia. It was also accused of environmental damage during the construction of a port in Gujarat by the Indian government. Market Forces said that “within hours” of receiving a letter from the groups, S&P confirmed it had “escalated this to the relevant Media and Stakeholder Analysis Analyst” within the firm for review. 

Rio Tinto has recommended that its shareholders vote in favour of two resolutions asking it to review membership of industry associations that undermine the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and to disclose its Scope 1 and 2 emission targets and performance. According to the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, it marks the first time the board of an Australian company has supported a shareholder resolution. 

Goldman Sachs says it has taken steps to address employee burnout after a survey conducted among a group of junior analysts found that they were working 95-hour weeks on average. The survey of 13 US-based first-year analysts was presented to Goldman Sachs’ management in February, but began circulating on social media recently. One respondent said that they had “been through foster care, and this is arguably worse”, while another said that their treatment was “inhumane”. Goldman Sachs told the BBC: “a year into Covid people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them”.

The largest union-owned bank in the US has announced its support for paying reparations to African Americans. Amalgamated Bank endorsed HR 40, a piece of legislation which would establish a commission to develop reparation proposals to African Americans. Black people in the US are more likely than white people to not have bank accounts, and some banks have been accused of denying mortgages in majority black neighbourhoods and targeting ethnic minorities with predatory lending.

Listed renewables portfolios in advanced economies had a total return of 727% over 10 years, compared with 31.6% for fossil fuels, according to a study by Imperial College London and the International Energy Agency. The report found that renewable portfolios had a superior risk/return profile both in typical market conditions and during global economic imbalances.

State Street has announced a new ESG Risk Analytics and Reporting toolkit, which it says will help clients meeting global reporting requirements such as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation in the EU and the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.