Daily ESG Briefing: US regulator insists it ‘should play a leading role’ in developing ESG reporting standards

The latest developments in sustainable finance

The acting Director for corporation finance at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said the regulator “should play a leading role” in developing a global ESG reporting framework. In a statement published on the SEC’s website, John Coates praised the recent work of the IFRS Foundation, which is creating a set of sustainability-related financial standards, saying that it would be “unhelpful” for multiple standards to apply to companies. Earlier this week, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he had recommended to US Climate Change Envoy John Kerry that the EU and the US develop an “identical” green taxonomy on which to base disclosure rules. 

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) will each receive $500,000 in grant funding from the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, to support their efforts to create a standardised framework for sustainability disclosure. The funding will be used to support a series of IIRC publications, and the planned merger of the IIRC and SASB into the Value Reporting Foundation. 

England’s controversial Whitehaven coal mine could be axed after it was ‘called in’ for further consultation by the UK Government. The government has come under increasing pressure to revoke permission for the mine to be constructed in Cumbria. RI revealed in February that the private equity firm with a majority stake in the mine was a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment. 

Deutsche Bank says it doubled its 2020 target for sustainable financing and ESG investments, putting it well on the way to achieving its 2025 cumulative target of €200bn. According to its sustainability report, its asset management arm, DWS, saw ESG assets rise by 35% over the period, forming 12% of total assets under management.

The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that British shipping companies that sell old ships for scrap in countries with poor working conditions such as Bangladesh, India or Pakistan may be sued in the UK for deaths or injuries suffered by workers. The ruling is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and potentially opens shipping companies up to a flood of lawsuits. A number of institutional investors, including Norwegian pension fund KLP and Sweden’s SEB, have been mobilising to make the shipping industry more ESG-compliant over the past 18 months.