ESG round-up: Korean policymakers add nuclear to green taxonomy

The latest developments in sustainable finance: World Bank president rows back on climate change comments, UK government publishes first report on green bond allocations.

Korea’s Ministry of Environment has included nuclear power in the first draft of the green taxonomy framework. This marks a change of approach under president Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in March. The previous administration had promised to phase out nuclear energy. The new government has highlighted the value of nuclear energy in the transition to net zero. This is in line with the EU’s taxonomy, which will also now include both nuclear and gas following a European Parliament vote in July.

World Bank president David Malpass has apologised for avoiding questions on climate change at conference in New York last week. The White House joined leading climate figures – including former UN Climate Change head Christiana Figueres and Paris Agreement architect Laurence Tubiana – and several NGOs in condemning his comments and calling for his position to be reviewed. In response, Malpass rowed back on his remarks, saying it is “clear” that humans are causing global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. He dismissed calls for his resignation.

The UK government has published its first annual report on green bond financing allocation since the launch of the Green Financing Programme last year. By category, the breakdown was 47 percent for green transport, 14 percent for energy efficiency, 14 percent for renewable energy, 13 percent for climate change adaption, and the remaining 11 percent for biodiversity and pollution prevention. Policymakers also announced the launch of a social co-impact report in 2023.

An investor coalition on food policy is calling on the UK government to maintain its anti-obesity strategy following news that the project could be abandoned. The coalition, which is led by Rathbone Greenbank Investments and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation, argues that the obesity strategy protects economic prosperity, reduces direct and systemic risks for companies, and improves the nation’s health. It has warned that removal of the policy could have “significant economic and social costs”. Investors supporting the initiative include CCLA, Legal & General, UBS AM, EdenTree, Castlefield and Newton.

The United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) has introduced a Derivative Exchange Database to track sustainable activity. Plans to expand the scope and depth of the database are underway and follow the 2021 SSE guidance that was developed in collaboration with the World Federation of Exchanges.

ASN Impact Investors has found that, of more than 43,000 globally listed companies, only three (0.01 percent) do not harm biodiversity. The company is calling on investors to seek out firms that do not have a negative impact on biodiversity.