RI ESG Briefing, July 12: New Planet Tracker Initiative think tank seeks research head

The latest ESG developments


Planet Tracker Initiative, the new think-tank project from Mark Campanale and Nick Robins, the team behind the Carbon Tracker Initiative, is seeking a Director of Research based in Central London, according to a job spec posted by a recruiting firm. Planet Tracker is described as a “financially rooted think-tank, pooling the expertise of seasoned financial market professionals with environment, industry and scientific experts” to help “re-wire our financial system”. Its parent is Investor Watch, the non-profit company set up by sustainable investment figures Campanale and Robins in 2009. The new role will be instrumental in the development of Planet Tracker, according to the ad.

Canadian shareholder group SHARE says its engagement with Enbridge has helped prompt the pipeline firm to address Indigenous rights. SHARE said that on June 21 — National Indigenous Peoples Day — Enbridge “quietly released a discussion paper that addresses in detail its approach to Indigenous rights and relationships with Indigenous Peoples in its operations and investments. “The paper signifies an important step for the company in improving its accountability and transparency on Indigenous rights,” said SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education).

One in five leading climate-conscious business executives expect all their products and services to be low carbon within a decade, results from a new survey have found. The survey, carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Science Based Targets initiative, polled CEOs and C-suite executives at firms that have committed to setting science-based emissions reduction targets. Most respondents (52%) expect at least half of all products and services to be low carbon in ten years, and 65% see environmental factors as one of the top three trends that will affect business growth in the next few years – second only to technological change (88%).


Ostrum Asset Management, formerly Natixis Asset Management, has announced its divestment from tobacco, calling it “one of the worst offender sectors” due to its “particularly negative social, societal and environmental effects”. Ostrum has pledged to exclude tobacco across all SRI funds and open-end funds, and to engage with clients on the application of this policy to their funds and/or mandates. The policy will come into effect at end-July. Ostrum joins a growing number of major investors who have exited the sector this year which includes ABP, Europe’s biggest pension fund.

Leading academic Robert Eccles of the Said Business School at the University of Oxford and others have looked at the relationship between investor materiality and the SDGs. Eccles has teamed up with the University of Siena’s Gianni Betti and Costanza Consolandi on a new paper that develops a methodological framework which maps 30 ESG issues identified by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) to the SDGs and their targets. “We show that some SASB issues are more material for a given SDG than others,” according to the paper’s abstract.h6. Governance

The Netherlands: Governance forum Eumedion says that voting data from the 2018 AGM season shows that the average dissent level on remuneration proposals increased to 16.5% (excluding the votes cast by Trust Offices). Peaks were those of Van Lanschot Kempen (56.8% dissent), Unilever (43% dissent), Curetis (37.8% dissent) and SBM Offshore (30% dissent). In 2015, 2016 and 2017, on average only 6.3% of the share capital voted against the remuneration proposals. Eumedion has already urged the legislator to increase the AGM voting threshold for approving a new remuneration policy from a simple majority of the votes cast to a qualified majority of 75% or 80%.

New UK pension pool Border to Coast Pensions Partnership has selected Robeco to perform its voting and engagement services. Leeds-based Border to Coast will invest the assets of the Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Durham, East Riding, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Surrey, South Yorkshire, Teesside, Tyne and Wear and Warwickshire LGPS pension funds totalling £43bn.

The UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commission and a coalition of organisations have jointly called on the government to establish a central registry for Section 54 statements, an annual report setting out the steps taken by a company to eliminate slavery and human trafficking in its supply chain and other operations. Since 2015, these statements are legally mandated for companies with an annual turnover of £36m (€40.7m) or more. However, the Act did not provide for a central repository, leading to the development of two independent, non-government funded registries. According to the Commission, compliance with Section 54 has been weak with 40% of the government’s top 100 suppliers failing to meet the basic legal requirements, while two thirds of businesses seen as high-risk failed to include relevant human trafficking or slavery risks in their statements.

Switzerland: Since the Minder initiative on executive pay came into force, votes on board and executive remuneration are the ones “most contested by the shareholders” according to governance advisory group Ethos. It said this is reflected in a “stabilization” of overall remuneration in companies on the benchmark SPI index and a “slight decrease” in the largest listed companies.

The Supreme Court in the UK has dismissed an appeal from institutional investors seeking to pursue a $785m (€670m) claim against collapsed Portuguese bank, Banco Espírito Santo (BES). Investors including Danish telecoms fund TDC Pension and New Zealand Super have been trying to reclaim a loan made to BES four years ago to finance a refinery for a Venezuelan state oil company.