ESG round-up: Former SEC commissioner Herren Lee joins Persefoni’s advisory board

European investors file climate lobbying proposal at Toyota, GFANZ announces Japan as first Country Chapter.

Former SEC commissioner Allison Herren Lee has joined the sustainability advisory board of US climate accounting platform provider Peresfoni. During her spell as acting chair at the US financial watchdog, Herren Lee initiated several key ESG workstreams, including work on the SEC’s climate disclosure rule, which is not now expected to be published until the autumn. Herren Lee joins two other former SEC lawyers, Kristina Wyatt and Emily Pierce, at Persefoni. In March, Herren Lee joined Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, a Washington DC-based law firm specialising in anti-corruption and whistleblower law. 

Three European investors, including Dutch giant APG Asset Management, have filed a climate lobbying proposal at Toyota, the first time a climate shareholder resolution has been put to the Japanese carmaker. The other co-filers are Danish pension fund AkademikerPension and Norway’s Storebrand Asset Management. “After over two years of intense engagement with Toyota, it has still not been possible to reach common ground with the company,” said Anders Schelde, CIO at AkademikerPension. “Independent analysts Influencemap find that Toyota and its business associations, such as Keidanren and JAMA, still have a long way to go to be aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement when it comes to their lobbying.” 

Staying in Japan, GFANZ has announced that its first “Country Chapter” will be based in Tokyo. The launch coincides with Japan’s G7 presidency and comes ahead of the summit of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors in the Japanese city of Niigata. The Chapter will open in June 2023 and will be part of the broader GFANZ APAC Network launched last year. Part of its role is to support local financial institutions in sharing knowledge and best practices on developing net-zero transition plans. 

Flows into ESG equity funds are at their lowest level in the past four years with just $12 billion of net inflows in the year to date, according to Barclays’ flow tracker. While global, emerging market and Japan ESG funds have seen “healthy” inflows, net inflow figures are affected by the $13 billion cumulative net outflows seen by funds in the US so far this year. Figures from a separate Jefferies report show net outflows of $5.4 billion from US funds in Q1, driven especially by investors pulling their money from passive funds in March.