Daily ESG Briefing: Suncorp to axe all oil & gas by 2040

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Australian insurer Suncorp has become the first to put the brakes on oil & gas, pledging today to phase out direct investments in the exploration and production of oil & gas. It will assess existing clients between now and 2040, in order of carbon intensity, resulting in no holdings within two decades. It will also stop underwriting new or additional projects immediately, and phase out all underwriting of the sector within five years. Pipelines and gas-fired power stations are not covered under the commitments. 

The US State Department has asked colleges and universities to divest from Chinese holdings in their endowments, in a letter sent this week. “Boards of US university endowments would be prudent to divest from People’s Republic of China firms’ stocks in the likely outcome that enhanced listing standards lead to a wholesale delisting of PRC firms from US exchanges by the end of next year,” Keith Krach, undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, wrote. This is the latest pushback against China by the Trump administration.

Pension funds NGS Super and Australian Catholic Super have announced plans to merge, creating a A$21bn superannuation fund with approximately 200,000 members servicing independent and Catholic schools and the community sector across Australia.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has filed two shareholder resolutions to Origin Energy, asking it to review consents from Aboriginal land holders for fracking in Beetaloo basin and to review and address anti-climate lobbying. If accepted, the resolutions will be voted on at Origin's upcoming AGM on October 20, 2020.

“Companies will take on the burden of safety, rising costs, and lowering capacity after Covid” according to a new report by Moody’s. The latest research, part of the rating agency’s "Credit After Covid" series, says a shift to focus on social risk could see companies forgoing energy savings to ensure better ventilation for employee and customer safety. More widely, governments will play a larger role in private enterprise, while income inequality and information security issues will take center stage.

Blue bonds could finance an ocean recovery by 2040, according to a briefing paper by Planet Tracker. The think tank’s research, ‘Can Blue Bonds Finance A Fish Stock Recovery’, found that favourable debt financing vehicles may be the incentive necessary to ensure long-term replenishment of global fish stocks. Although there are barriers, Planet Tracker states that significant steps were taken this month when the European Commission adopted a proposal to implement a multiannual management of stocks in the Western Mediterranean.