ESG Round-up: SEC asks for additional climate positions in 2023 budget request to Congress

The latest developments in sustainable finance: Scottish Widows exits tobacco; the European Securities and Markets Authority seeks trainers in ESG.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has applied for seven more climate positions in its 2023 budget request to Congress, alongside the creation of four diversity-related roles.

The regulator wants the Office of its Chief Operating Officer, Kenneth Johnson, to have the seven experts to support climate-related disclosure and reporting. It wants the diversity-focused positions to sit within its Office of Acquisitions, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion and Office of Equal Employment Opportunity. The regulator has requested 400 extra roles in total.

The European Securities and Markets Authority is searching for organisations to deliver training on ESG. In a tender released this week, the supervisory body said it was seeking contractors that could provide support on a slew of topics, including ESG, over at least four years.  

Scottish Widows has exited tobacco as part of a £1.5 billion ($2 billion; €1.8 billion) divestment announced yesterday, which also covered some fossil fuels. The £190 billion pensions and insurance provider will no longer invest in firms that make more than 10 percent of their revenues from tobacco. It has also tightened its exclusion threshold to rule out firms with more than 5 percent of their revenues from the extraction of thermal coal and tar sands.  

Barclays has been slammed for co-managing a deal to finance new gas pipelines just a day after it promised to help the economy align with 1.5C with a new climate strategy. The bank has allegedly helped facilitate a $800 million refinancing deal for TC Energy, the Canadian energy company behind the controversial cancelled Keystone XL oil pipeline, according to data from Refinitiv. At the time of publication, Barclays had not responded to Responsible Investor’s request for comment.  

NatureAlpha has launched a data platform focused on the nature-related impacts and risks of asset-level investment decisions. Initially, the platform is tracking the 100 largest European companies, with plans to add those in the US and other developed markets over coming weeks.

NatureAlpha is also building a reporting platform for companies, investors and financial institutions, which it says will be aligned to the Taskforce on Nature-related Disclosures Framework. Meanwhile, Impact Cubed – formerly known as Auriel Investors – has developed a service to show how portfolios impact climate change and what risks they may face from the changing climate.  

From 1 April, the Securities and Exchange Board of India will implement new rules requiring the top 1,000 companies ranked by market cap to include “Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report or BRSR” in their annual reports disclosed to stock exchanges, The Economic Times reported.