ESG round-up: S&P Global Ratings drops ESG ‘indicators’ from credit rating reports

The latest developments in sustainable finance: ASFI announces 25 senior leaders for taxonomy technical expert group; New Zealand issues temporary GHG assurance standard.

S&P Global Ratings will no longer provide ESG credit indicators in new reports on credit ratings, the US firm told clients last week. Since 2021, the credit ratings division of S&P Global had been publishing alphanumeric ESG credit indicators for some publicly rated entities. In a client note seen by Responsible Investor, it said the indicators “were intended to illustrate and summarise the relevance of ESG credit factors on our rating analysis [and] supplemented the narrative paragraphs in our credit rating reports where we describe the impact of ESG credit factors on creditworthiness”. It added: “We have determined that the dedicated analytical narrative paragraphs in our credit rating reports are most effective at providing detail and transparency on ESG credit factors material to our rating analysis.” S&P Global Ratings is separate from and independent of S&P Sustainable1, which provides S&P Global ESG Scores.

In other news, parent company S&P Global has joined the UK Sustainable Finance Forum. UKSIF’s members include banks, fund managers, asset owners, financial advisers, data providers and charities.

The Australian Sustainable Finance Institute (ASFI) has launched the development phase of the country’s taxonomy with the appointment of a technical expert group. Twenty-five senior leaders, endorsed by the Australian Council of Financial Regulators’ Climate working group, have been appointed to the team. It will be co-chaired by Guy Debelle, external adviser to the Australian Retirement Trust and former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and former Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) CEO Emma Herd, who led the taxonomy technical team that worked with ASFI on initial plans.

Other key appointments include Kim Farrant, responsible investment general manager at Hesta; Nadia Humphreys, head of climate and regulatory sustainable finance solutions at Bloomberg; Daniela Jaramillo, head of sustainable investing for Australia at Fidelity International; and Bronwyn Kitchen, head of climate at National Australia Bank.

New Zealand standard setter the External Reporting Board (XRB) has released a temporary standard that requires climate reporting entities to obtain assurance over their greenhouse gas emissions disclosures from 2024. The standard includes the requirement to apply one of two internationally recognised assurance standards for assurance of greenhouse gas disclosures, and provides independence and quality management requirements to ensure high-quality assurance.

BlackRock has announced plans to launch a NZ$2 billion ($1.2 bn; €1.1bn) climate infrastructure strategy to support New Zealand’s net zero goals. The fund is a country-led initiative, created on behalf of local institutional clients including the New Zealand government, which aims to support the country in becoming one of the first to transition to a 100 percent renewable energy-powered electricity grid by 2030.

The Principles for Responsible Investment has issued a request for proposals for a consultancy to develop investor guidance on biodiversity. The selected firm will support the development of three initial pieces of guidance on investor biodiversity action covering biodiversity consideration in responsible investment policies, an introduction to biodiversity for asset owners and a biodiversity investor resource hub. The consultancy will conduct 30-40 interviews with investors to identify current practices and challenges on biodiversity to develop the new guidance. The deadline for responses is 18 August, with the engagement expected to run between September and January.

Development banks from the Amazon basin countries have launched an international green coalition, an initiative mobilised by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). It aims to promote financial solutions and to boost socially, environmentally and economically sustainable projects in the region. Key areas of work include promoting green infrastructure, the energy transition, and the conservation and restoration of the Amazon Biome. The green coalition is a product of the commitment of 19 development banks that signed the joint declaration, and the contribution of the Latin American Association of Financial Institutions for Development (ALIDE) and the Brazilian Development Association (ABDE).

Banque de France, public service pension scheme ERAFP, and Generali Group have all chosen Iceberg Data Lab (IDL) as their ESG data provider. IDL provides financial institutions with science-based environmental data solutions to assess the environmental impact of their portfolios, inform sustainable investment and risk management strategies, build indexes and funds, and develop environmental impact reporting.