ESG round-up: Aviva to back living wage proposal at Sainsbury’s AGM

The latest developments in sustainable finance: KLP joins PCAF, GRI standard for agriculture and seafood launched, TNFD releases new beta framework.

Aviva Investors will support the living wage proposal at UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s next week (7 July). A spokesperson for the $357 billion asset manager told Responsible Investor, that while it welcomed the company’s progress to date, it would support ShareAction’s shareholder resolution “based on our desire for Sainsbury’s to make a commitment to a living wage for 100 percent of workers, including all third-party contractors”. Aviva acquired a Sainsbury’s distribution hub in the UK midlands for £139 million last year. UK fund manager Schroders revealed this week that it would oppose the proposal.

Norwegian pension fund KLP has joined the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), the body set up by Dutch bank ASN Bank in 2015 to develop a harmonised approach to assessing and disclosing financed greenhouse gas emissions. PCAF went global in 2019 and now boasts more than 280 financial institution members, representing $75 trillion in assets.

The GRI has launched the first global disclosure standard for companies operating in the upstream production of crops, animals and seafood. The new framework will address food security, land and resource rights, living wage and income, natural ecosystem conversion, animal welfare, soil health and pesticides use, in addition to mapping impacts with the SDGs. A disclosure standard for mining is under development by the GRI.

US financial regulators have upped their game on climate-related financial risk with 230 actions on the issue since April last year, US non-profit Ceres has found. Its 2022 scorecard shows a marked improvement from the inaugural edition last year, which found that US agencies were lagging far behind their global counterparts. Since then, at the request of President Biden, the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Stability Oversight Committee published a report affirming for the first time that climate change is an emerging threat to the US financial system. Nine financial regulators, including the Federal Reserve Bank, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission were assessed by Ceres. “While it is encouraging to witness US regulators acknowledging and acting on the climate threat, they must move faster,” the non-profit stated.

Eurosif has published a report with policy recommendations on how the EU can make its anti-greenwashing legislation SFDR “fit for purpose”. The paper, which was released on Tuesday, recommends amending SFDR regulation so that it can be effectively used as a green fund standard in line with market usage. SFDR was designed as a purely disclosure-focused mechanism, but the designations Article 6, 8 and 9 have been used by providers to communicate fund sustainability credentials. Eurosif is the representative body for the European sustainable investment sector.

The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has released version 0.2 of its beta framework for nature-related risk and opportunity management and disclosure. Building on the initial release in March, the framework includes several enhancements and additional elements developed by TNFD’s Taskforce, including “draft architecture for metrics and targets and an illustrative set of assessment metrics to support pilot testers”. The TNFD is set to publish its final recommendations in the third quarter of 2023.

UK state-owned savings bank NS&I raised just £288 million ($350 million; €333 million) from its flagship green savings bonds, where proceeds are allocated to projects under the UK’s green bond framework. The product, which was launched in October last year, received criticism for paying a relatively low interest rate compared with other green products in the market. Hong Kong upsized its equivalent retail programme in May after local savers ordered close to HK$33 billion ($4.2 billion; €4 billion).