Daily ESG Briefing: Standard Life to move £15bn of assets into sustainable default strategies

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Standard Life is moving £15bn of assets and 1.5m pension customers to sustainable default strategies. Its largest default pension fund propositions will mainly proivide passive, lower-cost sustainable solutions. The new strategies will be underpinned by around 80% ESG components, depending on the strategy applied. Sustainable Multi Asset will become the default for circa 9,000 workplace pension schemes, with the rollout happening throughout 2022.  

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) has published an open letter calling for gas to be excluded from the EU Taxonomy. In the letter addressed to EU member state representatives and MEPs, IIGCC argues that increasing the emissions threshold for gas projects with permits granted before 2030 – as proposed in the recently published draft legal text by the European Commission - “would mean many energy companies would demonstrate alignment with the Taxonomy, even though their activities and transition plans would not be aligned with Net Zero. This in turn hinders the capacity of our members to align their own portfolios with Net Zero, undermining the whole purpose of the Taxonomy and the substantial work that has been undertaken to develop it”.  

Data firm FE Fundinfo has called on the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide an education programme to ensure consumers fully understand the classifications and labels proposed under the UK’s Sustainable Disclosure Requirements (SDR). Responding to FCA’s recent discussion paper on the SDR and investment labels, FE Fundinfo’s regulations manager Mikkel Bates warned that many consumers may not fully understand what terms such as ‘transitioning’ and ‘aligned’ funds mean without further guidance. His comments come after investors and industry organisations broadly welcomed the discussion paper but highlighted concerns around proposed fund distinctions, as recently reported by RI.   

Governance software and data provider Diligent has acquired Insightia, a provider of analytics for listed companies with a focus on shareholder activism, proxy voting and corporate governance.  

Moody’s Investors Service has said the credit impact across sectors of social issues including labour issues, gender and racial diversity, executive compensation, new sustainability disclosure rules and shareholder voting will increasingly prominent in 2022. Its annual ESG outlook report also flags nature capital and biodiversity as an area that will receive more attention.  

Danish container logistics company A.P. Moller – Maersk has pledged to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2040, one decade ahead of their initial 2050 goal. Maersk has set out interim goals for 2030 to ensure it is aligned with Science-Based Targets initiative’s 1.5°C pathway (Scope 1 and 2, baseline 2020) including a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity in oceans and 70% absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in terminals.