RI ESG Briefing, Sept. 29: OECD, Green Bank Act, Hermes, PRI, RobecoSAM, Tokyo SE

The round-up of the latest environmental, social and governance news


Current carbon prices are falling short of the levels needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, but even moderate price increases could have a significant impact, according to new research from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report – Effective Carbon Rates: Pricing CO2 through Taxes and Emissions Trading Systems – presents what the OECD says is “the first full analysis” of the use of carbon pricing on energy in 41 OECD and G20 economies, covering 80% of global energy use and of CO2 emissions.

The Green Bank Act of 2016, a bill that would create a national green bank in the US, has been tabled Senators Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse. Companion legislation is tabled in the US Congress.

Baker & McKenzie has become the first law firm to join the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) and commit to supporting clients in advancing carbon pricing policies worldwide and sharing best practice. A private-public partnership among the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), governments, nonprofits, and private sector companies, the initiative aims to develop a global network for sharing best practice.

King’s College London will reportedly divest from tar sands and coal and start investing 15% of its £179m fund into clean energy after its senior decision –making body of the university endorsed a new ethical investment policy. The move makes it the 26th university in the UK to divest or partially divest from fossil fuels, according to campaigners.


Hermes Investment Management, the fund firm owned by the BT Pension Scheme, has published the final paper, on diversity, in its annual Responsible Capitalism survey. It has found that in 2015 only a quarter of investors placed importance on gender diversity, whereas in 2016, a total of 51% of investors agreed. Thirty-one percent placed importance on racial diversity, 19% on socio-economic diversity and 30% on educational background diversity.

Brazil, Colombia and Mexico are “hot spots” for impact investing in Latin America according to a new report on the region. It finds that firms headquartered in Latin American manage $1.2bn in assets dedicated to impact investment, and local and international firms deployed $1.3bn across more than 520 impact investing deals in 2014 and 2015. It also found that survey respondents had invested in 20 countries in Latin America with most firms investing in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The report was released by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, in partnership with Latin American Private Equity & Venture and LGT Impact Ventures.

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has released a map of global responsible investment regulation. It’s the first output of the PRI’s Global guide to responsible investment regulation, a project aimed at demonstrating the breadth and range of regulation and market initiatives on responsible investment. The project is supported by MSCI.h6. Governance

RobecoSAM, the sustainability investment specialist, and data giant Bloomberg, have published the percentile rankings of almost 2000 companies on the Bloomberg Professional service. The rankings come from RobecoSAM’s 2016 Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), the research backbone for the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. The data will be available across a number of the Bloomberg Professional service’s investment tools, supporting company, industry and portfolio analysis, including ESG < GO > — the new company ESG analysis page. Under the arrangement, RobecoSAM becomes the first company to offer a complete ESG company ranking dataset to mainstream investors through the Bloomberg Professional service.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has published data on how listed companies have addressed the recently introduced Corporate Governance Code. It finds compared to last year, compliance as a whole has increased. It comes as Toshiba has submitted a report to the TSE to explain how corporate governance has improved since its accounting scandal came to light last year. The Japan Times reports that the step is aimed at getting its name taken off the bourse’s watch list, the heaviest punishment short of delisting.

UK boards lag behind their US counterparts when it comes to professional and sector diversity, according to new research from Oxford Brookes University’s Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice. The research, commissioned by the 30% Club Higher Education Working Group, finds there are currently just eight academic non-executive directors on the boards of FTSE 100 companies, whereas there are at least 59 academic directors serving on Fortune 100 boards in the US. The study also highlighted that the flow of female talent from business to university boards is relatively healthy compared to female academics entering corporate boardrooms.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the city state’s central bank and financial regulator, has highlighted the need for better corporate disclosures on remuneration, as well as the link between remuneration and performance. “Another area is on more clarity with regard to diversity policies and the company’s plans on them,” said Deputy Managing Director Ong Chong Tee. He was speaking at the 7th Corporate Governance Week on September 26.

Law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd (Robbins Geller) has announced that a class action has been commenced on behalf of purchasers of Wells Fargo stock during the period between February 26 2014 and September 15 2016. The action, which follows the scam accounts scandal at the bank, was filed in the Northern District of California. The complaint charges Wells Fargo and certain of its current and former officers and/or directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Robbins Geller’s page for the Wells Fargo action is here.

Women on boards: Canada’s securities regulatory authorities have issued a report summarizing a review of the corporate governance disclosure of 677 non-venture issuers as it relates to women in leadership roles. “The review revealed an increase in the number of women on boards in all size categories of issuers, with large issuers still leading the way,” they said. The review found that in the case of the 215 issuers with a market capitalization over C$1bn, 18% of board seats are now held by women, compared with 16% last year, and in the case of the 42 largest issuers with a market capitalization over C$10bn, these numbers are 23% and 21%, respectively.