Daily ESG Briefing: Willis Towers Watson, Reuters and Church of Wales to ‘green’ assets

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Willis Towers Watson has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 in its delegated investment portfolios. The $166bn manager set an interim target of halving its emissions relative to 2015 levels by 2030.

The Church of Wales has voted to divest from fossil fuels and become Net Zero by 2030. At a meeting of its governing body, the Church, which has an endowment of around £700m, voted to amend its ethical investment policy to exclude investments in companies deriving more than 5% of their turnover from the extraction or production of fossil fuels.

The Reuters Pension Fund will integrate ESG factors into its portfolio to improve risk-adjusted returns. In a newsletter to members, the fund said that it had appointed Impax Asset Management to handle a sustainable equity mandate in 2019, which was worth £87.7m at the end of September 2020.

British Columbia Investment Management has announced a research partnership on climate finance with the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. The three-year partnership will focus on developing tools and frameworks for integrating climate change risk evaluation and climate mitigation opportunities into investment portfolios, as well as evaluating government green covid-recovery packages.

Barrick Gold Corporation has tripled its 2030 emissions reduction, coinciding with the publication of its 2020 sustainability report. The firm, which had initially targeted a reduction of 10% emissions against 2018 levels by 2030, raised this to 30% with an interim target of 15%, having identified “further reduction opportunities”. Barrick has also aligned its tailings and heap leach management with new guidelines from the International Council on Minings and Metal, and recycled 79% of its water last year.

Lloyds insurance syndicates Tokio Marine Kiln and ERS Insurance have become the latest to say they won’t underwrite the controversial Carmichael coal mine and associated rail projects in the future, in another blow to the project, which is being run by Adani. TMK confirmed to campaign group Market Forces that it would not underwrite the project, joining 24 other Lloyd’s syndicates and 34 major insurance companies who have refused to insure the project.

The Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University is to launch a new project studying current methods of measuring carbon emissions, which aims to develop new tools to create greater accountability and improve reductions across the economy. The project, which will be led by Julio Friedmann, has been supported by Dow and the Nature Conservancy.