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RI ESG Briefing, April 18: Shell invites SRI investors to visit Nigeria operations

The round-up of ESG news

Environmental

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has invited socially responsible (SRI) investors to visit its operations in Nigeria this year. The invitation, which follows similar investor visits to Shell’s Canadian oil sands and Brazilian biofuels operations, was made by CEO Peter Voser at the company’s annual meeting with SRI investors in London today. Link to meeting materials

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), whose members represent €7.5trn of assets, have urged European Union ministers to consider changes to ensure the continued viability of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It has made three recommendations. 1) A change in the overall level of ambition of the EU’s 2020 emissions target and a change in the EU ETS carbon credit allocations. 2) Immediate action to define and implement a one off set-aside of carbon credits in order to remove oversupply from the system. 3) Processes to cope with unforeseen economic circumstances in future.

The European Investment Bank has issued a seven-year, 3%, SEK1bn ($148m) Climate Awareness Bond last week, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative. The underwriters were SEB and Deutsche Bank. “Looks like Swedish funds continue to have appetite for climate and green bonds,” says the initiative’s Sean Kidney.

The UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) has awarded the 2012 Climate Change Leadership Award (financial services) to Africa’s largest insurer, Santam. Santam won the award for a research study Insurance in a Changing Risk Landscape: Local lessons from the Southern Cape of South Africa

Social

UK Member of Parliament Stella Creasy says high interest rate lenders are “slowly killing” communities such as the one she represents in Walthamstow in east London. At a seminar this week hosted by the St. Paul’s Institute, she said there are amendments tabled to the Finance Bill to help tackle the issue.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has agreed to Yahoo!’s request to omit a human rights-related shareholder proposal from its annual shareholder meeting. The proposal from activist Jing Zhao referred to the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund and ties with China-based Alibaba.h6. Governance

Trillium Asset Management, the US responsible funds firm, has said that Intel’s McAfee software subsidiary will not now participate in Pakistan’s request for proposals to develop a nationwide censorship firewall. Trillium has been engaging Intel on these issues since April 2011. “Trillium continues to engage Intel on human rights issues and we look forward to continuing this productive dialogue,” it said.
The US union-affiliated CtW [Change to Win] Investment Group has written to fellow shareholders in Sotheby’s calling on them to oppose the re-election of members of the auctions group’s nominating and governance committee. At issue is “their failure to recruit independent, credible directors and for the mismanagement of the James Murdoch scandal” it said in a release. Sotheby’s holds its AGM in New York on May 8. Link to letter

The UK Shareholders Association, which represents retail investors, has hit out at bankers’ pay. “It has become a truism that senior bank pay is grossly excessive and, some would say, immoral,” UKSA director Eric Chalker was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“Transparency, information and governance” are the top non-financial risk management concerns for European fund management professionals, according to a new survey from EDHEC-Risk. More than 160 high-level professionals were surveyed for the “Shedding Light on Non-Financial Risks – a European Survey”. Link

Eight US lawsuits accusing Bank of New York Mellon of overcharging institutional investor clients for foreign exchange trades have been moved to Manhattan federal court at the bank’s request, according to a Reuters report. They were transferred by the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The bank has faced a raft of accusations from pension funds in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia.

The Chicago Policeman’s Annuity & Benefit Fund has sued Bank of America and US Bancorp for failing to protect investors in mortgage-backed securities, according to a report in Plan Sponsor. The complaint filed in the US District Court in New York alleges the banks disregarded their responsibilities as trustee for Washington Mutual mortgage bonds.