RI Briefing, October 12: UK ethical investment reaches €12.9bn says EIRIS

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

UK green and ethical investment has hit record high of £11.3bn (€12.9bn), according to new figures from sustainable investment research specialist EIRIS. The figure represents over three quarters of a million investors in green and ethical funds, up from around 250,000 investors in 2001 when £4bn was invested ethically in the UK.

Dexia Asset Management, the European socially responsible pioneer, will become a direct subsidiary of France-based Dexia SA as part of the break-up of the Franco-Belgian banking group. “The commercial and operational relations Dexia AM has with other Dexia entities remain in force and that Dexia AM continues to build upon its longstanding partnerships with both third-party and Dexia clients,” said CEO Naïm Abou-Jaoudé in a statement.

The International Integrated Reporting Committee is calling for feedback on its recently released discussion paper Towards Integrated Reporting – Communicating Value in the 21st Century. Link

The UN Global Compact de-listed 107 companies during September for failing to communicate on progress. Over the month, 157 companies and 42 non-business stakeholders joined taking the total number of business participants to 6,301 and non-business participants to 2,900.

A new German Sustainability Code is close to being approved, according to the German Council for Sustainable Development. The aim of the proposed code is to strengthen the green economy and provide guidance. It would also be directed at all financial market players as well as all companies seeking to gear their activities to the principles of sustainability. Link

Australia’s parliament has passed its planned carbon tax, which will make about 500 of the biggest polluters pay A$23 for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit. The Clean Energy Bill 2011 was passed with 74 votes for and 72 against. It includes a market-based C02 trading scheme from 2015 and a target to cut 159m tonnes of CO2 by 2020. The conservative opposition leader, Tony Abbott, says he will ditch the tax if he wins office.Norway’s NOK3trn (€386bn) Global Pension Fund has put an upper limit of $25m on the annual bonuses it pays to external fund managers – in a bid to promote a longer-term investment strategy. It comes after criticism over excess payments in the past. Link

The German Property Federation (ZIA) has launched a voluntary sustainability code for developers, investors and owners. The two-part code consists of a set of principles for all real estate companies, alongside separate codes for property companies based on their market activity, such as financing or development. ZIA will examine the level of sustainability reporting in the industry and publish a regular survey of the findings. Link

The US authorities are seeking to bring greater transparency into the auditing of listed companies. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has launched a consultation on requirements that accounting firms should have to disclose the name of the engagement partner. The deadline for responding is January 9 2012. Announcement

California’s new ‘Benefit Corporation’ legislation has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. Benefit corporations are like regular companies but are legally required to pursue the creation of a material positive impact on society and the environment, while meeting higher standards of accountability and transparency. California is the sixth US state to pass such legislation.

Non-governmental organization ActionAid has released research – Addicted to tax havens: The secret life of the FTSE 100 – which shows that 98 out the 100 companies on the FTSE100 index use tax havens. It said the banking sector makes heaviest use of tax havens, with a total of 1,649 tax haven companies between the ‘big four’ banks.

The US Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators have introduced proposals to limit proprietary trading by investments – the so-called Volcker rule comes in as part of the wider Dodd-Frank Act. Its objective is to avoiding a repeat of the financial crisis by putting a lid on excessive risk-taking. The consultation lasts until January 13.