ESG round-up: IFRS to establish ISSB Beijing office in mid-2023

The latest developments in sustainable finance: Diversa pays ASIC greenwashing fine; Germany's due diligence law comes into force.

Trustees of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Finance to establish an International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) office in Beijing. The MoU is effective for an initial three-year period. The office, which will function as a hub for stakeholder engagement in Asia, is expected to open in the middle of this year and will collaborate with other IFRS foundation offices around the globe. This follows the ISSB’s announcement at COP26, which committed to the new board having a global presence through a multi-location model.

Superannuation trustee Diversa has paid $13,320 in compliance with an infringement notice for greenwashing issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in November. Diversa is the issuer of superannuation product Cruelty Free Super (CFS), as trustee for Professional Super, a sub-fund of the Tidswell Master Superannuation Plan. ASIC reported concerns that statements on CFS’s website may have been false or misleading by overstating its exclusions. The statements claimed to prevent investment in companies involved in “polluting and carbon-intensive activities”, “financing or support of activities which cause environmental and social harm” and “poor corporate governance”. Diversa’s payment is not an admission of guilt or liability.

Germany’s Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains, which requires companies to conduct due diligence regarding human rights and the environment, came into force on Sunday. The act will initially cover companies with 3,000 or more employees. From 2024, it will apply to firms with more than 1,000 employees.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has validated Aviva’s carbon emission reduction targets. The targets are aligned with the Paris 1.5C goal and aim to progress Aviva’s path to net zero 2040. They include: achieving a 90 percent reduction in absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 levels; ensuring that 70 percent of suppliers have science-based targets by 2025; and continuing to finance only renewable electricity until 2030.

Mizuho Financial Group has included climate change response as a key pillar in its business strategy in order to strengthen its initiatives for achieving net zero by 2050. Mizuho’s targets include setting mid-term targets for reducing finance portfolio emissions across oil and gas and the thermal coal mining sectors, and strengthening support for transition to a low-carbon society by enforcing a risk control framework for carbon-related sectors.