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Daily ESG Briefing: As You Sow lands first proxy voting client

The latest developments in sustainable finance

North Carolina-based Warren Wilson College has signed up to As You Sow's new proxy voting service, which it launched recently in partnership with Proxy Impact. The college, which has an endowment of some $55m, will be provided with ESG-based recommendations on all proxy ballot items including boards of directors, executive compensation and environmental and social resolutions.

The US House Financial Services Committee this week advanced a Climate Disclosure Act that would direct the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue rules requiring listed companies to disclose climate risks. The SEC plans to table proposals for such disclosure later this year, but Congressman Sean Casten, who introduced the Act, reportedly still wants to pass the legislation to ensure “that the necessary actions they are taking to protect our economy and to protect the planet have the strength of law behind it — and aren't fickle and bounce back and forth with future changes in the occupant of the White House”.

The UK Pensions Minister has said that schemes not addressing climate change could be breaching their fiduciary duty. Speaking at an event held by consultancy Willis Towers Watson, Guy Opperman said that for trustees who hadn’t “got the message” on climate risk, “that message is going to be rammed home over the next six, 12, 18 months […] There is absolutely no question that fiduciary duty is not an obstacle to addressing climate risk. Failing to address climate risk in my view is a potential breach of fiduciary duty”. The minister also reiterated his opposition to schemes divesting from fossil fuels, saying that the development of carbon capture and hydrogen capability was most likely to come from “very clever scientists, technicians and engineers who by and large work for BP, Shell and other private sector companies”.

The EIRIS Foundation is holding a public tender for an ESG mandate worth £1m (€1.2m). Managers will present tender details on a webinar open to EIRIS Foundation trustees and staff, and other charities. The deadline for responses is 14 June.

Morningstar has launched two new ESG assessments: an ESG commitment level for strategies and asset managers, tracking the incorporation of ESG factors into investment processes, and a risk rating assessment for companies, which uses Sustainalytics risk ratings on material ESG risks and company risk management. To coincide with the launch, the firm has published its second set of fund commitment level assessments, covering 251 funds across 140 strategies and 31 asset managers.

PGIM Real Estate has set a 2050 net-zero target for its portfolio of managed properties. The $188.5bn manager aligned its commitment with the Urban Land Institute’s Greenprint Centre for Building Performance Net Zero Carbon goal, which provides a roadmap to net zero emissions for managed buildings.

The Green Finance Institute has launched a coalition for the decarbonisation of road transport with founder members including Lloyds, Lombard Odier, Triodos and Transport for London. The coalition will seek to drive finance into zero-emission vehicles and will initially focus on developing finance solutions in three areas: consumer finance and leasing, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and commercialisation of battery technology.

The Association of British Insurers has joined the UN Principles for Sustainable Insurance. The ABI joins insurance associations from a number of countries including Australia, Canada and France as a member of the initiative, which announced last month that it was launching a net-zero insurance alliance to join the COP26 race to zero campaign.