RI Briefing, July 28: Legg Mason, UNCTAD, BNP Paribas, Ethos

US fund manager Legg Mason has joined the Ceres network of investors and environmental groups. Ceres said: “By joining the Ceres company network, Legg Mason commits to long-term stakeholder engagement, public disclosure of its environmental and social impacts and strategies, and continuous sustainability performance improvement.” Link

Shareholder “muscle” is among the drivers behind transnational corporations’ deciding to invest in low-carbon activities, according to a report from UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Its World Investment Report 2010: Investing in a Low Carbon Economy is available here

BNP Paribas has set up a Climate Change Steering Committee to be chaired by executive committee member Jean Clamon. BNP Paribas Investment Partners has also launched the Sustainable Development Circle in partnership with renowned author Erik Orsenna. It brings together institutional and retail investors in a forum for ideas. Link
Ethos, the Swiss SRI funds and governance coalition, and Proxinvest, the French proxy research company, have agreed to closer ties, reports Novethic. The groups are developing an international governance engagement platform. Ethos has also taken a 20% stake in Proxinvest.

French financial regulator the Autorité des Marchés Financiers has published its 2010 report on corporate governance and executive compensation.

The Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and asset manager Calvert have been succesful in promoting gender diversity at entertainment firm Netflix, which has named former Pixar executive Ann Mathers as its first female director. Release*US proxy advisory and voting* company Proxy Governance is considering changing into a not-for-profit body called the Proxy Governance Institute, says Pensions & Investments|ID:BF44C0221F6D1DFC200C6139796FC99F&AID=20100713/DAILYREG/100719978&title=Proxy%20Governance%20mulls%20change%20to%20not-for-profit&ID=&CSTargetURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pionline.com%2Fapps%2Fpbcs.dll%2Flogin%3FAssignSessionID%3D573396140321594%26AID%3D20100713%2FDAILYREG%2F100719978. The company is currently part of FOLIOfn, the brokerage founded by former SEC Commissioner Steven Wallman.

Cement firm Novacem has announced the first closing of its Green Cement Bond – building materials first Lafarge is the first subscriber. The nominal £1m bond will help Novacem’s negative carbon cement.

More than 90% of institutional investors are considering “green private equity”, according to new survey by New Energy World Network – with 69% saying they had already made green investments or are considering doing so within the next three years.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Global Compact have signed a memorandum of understanding to integrate the Global Compact’s 10 principles in GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. Also, the Global Compact will adopt the GRI Guidelines as the recommended reporting framework for companies.

About 20% of the questions put forward at AGMs in France this year were on ESG issues, according to Daniel Lebègue, president of the French Institute of Administrators, reports Novethic.

Green Exchange, the environmental trading firm backed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and banks such as Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, has gained approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The CFTC said GreenEx will list “a broad variety of contracts for environmental risk management that are currently traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange”.