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RI Briefing, February 22: Global Investor Survey on Climate Change

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

The second annual Global Investor Survey on Climate Change has been launched, examining institutional investors’ response to climate change risk. New this year is an assessment of low-carbon investments. Members of the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) and the Australia/New Zealand Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), as well as Carbon Disclosure Project signatories, are invited to complete the survey; it was completed by 90 institutions with a total $21trn in assets under management last year. The deadline is March 16.

India’s BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) has launched a new 20-constituent index to promote sustainable investment. The BSEGREENEX index is based on companies’ greenhouse gas emissions data, free float market capitalisation and turnover. “This Index will be helpful to asset managers for creating various products, to help investors to invest in the green theme of India,” BSE said in a statement.

Oekom Research, the Munich-based sustainability rating agency, says it has enlarged its client base to more than 70 asset managers and institutional clients such as church organisations, foundations, pension funds and insurance companies from nine countries. Its ratings currently influence the management of more than €140bn. There are 42 staff – with “plans to expand capacity further”.

Banking giant Barclays has been excluded from sustainable research and indices firm ECPI’s Ethical Euro Equity index for an “ESG downgrade”. Link

Proxy firm ISS, Institutional Shareholder Services, is holding a webinar to preview the 2012 proxy season in the US and Canada tomorrow (Feb. 23). The hour-long event starts at 11 a.m. EST. Link

Charity Bank, the UK charity that is also a bank, says it is on track to announce its first surplus for the 2011 financial year, estimated at £350,000 (€414,445) – all of which will be reinvested for charitable purposes. The bank’s balance sheet for the end of 2011 stood at just over £80m, an increase of almost 20% on the previous year.

Israel’s proposed sovereign wealth fund must be used to finance social projects, the members of the Knesset Finance Committee have been quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post. The government has announced plans to create a SWF from future natural gas and oil royalties.Responsible investment pioneer Steve Lydenberg has received the practitioner award for his research entitled ‘Reason, Rationality and Fiduciary Duty’ from the Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) Institute. Lydenberg – the “L” in KLD – is the founding director of the Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University and partner with Strategic Vision for Domini Social Investments. Lydenberg said: “As a long-time practitioner of responsible investment, I have often sought a vocabulary to adequately express the theory that rests behind our daily practices.”

The New York City Pension Funds’ “economically-targeted investments” will be doubled to $2bn, according to New York City Comptroller John Liu’s annual state of the city address. They will “potentially include small business loans, growth capital, green job projects, and housing preservation and development” and be led by Deputy Comptroller and Chief Investment Officer Larry Schloss.

A new report looks at how large US investors are investing for both financial return and positive social and environmental impact. Impact at Scale: Policy Innovation for Institutional Investment with Social and Environmental Benefit has been released by InSight at Pacific Community Ventures and the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University, and funded by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Financial market data firm Interactive Data Corporation has added environmental, social and governance (ESG) research from RepRisk to its real-time data offering, PrimeTerminal Professional. Users will also be able to access ESG positions and views published by a wide range of sources. Link

Investors have won a victory at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in their attempts to get ‘net neutrality’ on the agenda at the annual meetings of US telecoms firms AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. “After years of denial, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that investors will have the opportunity to press media companies AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to adopt standards that would guarantee open access to media to all customers,” said sustainable funds firm Trillium Asset Management.

Germany’s WPV, the pension fund for chartered accountants in North Rhine-Westphalia, is considering signing up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, according to a report on IPE.com citing fund officials. So far, the only German pension fund to back the PRI is the Bayerische Versorgungskammer (BVK).