RI ESG Briefing, January. 22: Canadian responsible investment assets surge – trends report

The latest environmental, social and governance news


CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, has unveiled a new, dedicated Sustainability section on CalSTRS.com. It seeks to unify CalSTRS’ sustainable efforts and provide a forum for members and other interested parties “to learn more about this important topic and how it integrates into CalSTRS business practices”. Two interactive features will be available, including Ask Jack and CEO Jack Ehnes’ Blog, in order to increase engagement, answer questions and provide more information on CalSTRS commitment to sustainability. CalSTRS also looks to the new site as an opportunity to further define sustainability as it relates to long-term economic viability, corporate governance, climate change, socially responsible investing, and much more. Link

Consulting firm EY (the former Ernst & Young), has been confirmed by the Climate Bond Standards Board as an approved Climate Bond Standards verifier. The firm joins DNV-GL, Bureau Veritas, Oekom and others as approved verifiers, which play a key role in the Climate Bonds Certification process. “EY is excited to become an approved verifier under the Climate Bond Standards program. The program is critical in maintaining the integrity of climate bonds — an asset class we view will become increasingly valuable as the world takes meaningful action on climate change,” said Mathew Nelson, EY Climate Change and Sustainability Service, Asia Pacific Leader.

The UK’s Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint has thrown her support behind ‘green gas’ to decarbonize heat demand in the UK. Speaking at the Guardian’s Big Energy Debate, Flint said that a solution to low carbon heat was “staring us in the face” in the form of ‘green gas’ – injecting biomethane into the gas grid. She said the benefits of this method included a significant reduction in carbon emissions without the need to build new network infrastructure or replace appliances in homes.


Restaurant group Wendy’s has agreed to remove sugary soda from its children’s menus. The move was hailed by MomsRising.org, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, all of which have been urging the chain to improve nutritional quality. Last year, the ICCR filed a resolution with the company that it later withdrew after engagement with the company. The ICCR, responding to the decision, said: “Beyond the obvious health risks for kids is the reputational risk these unhealthy drinks carry for the company. As their investors, we are pleased to see them address this important concern.”

The Thaipat Institute, an organisation that promotes ESG and sustainability, has launched an ESG rating unit which has evaluated the sustainability of 567 companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, according to a report in the Nation. The ESG100 ranking is the first of its kind in the country. Link. Governance

Canadian responsible investment assets have surpassed the C1$trn (€705bn) mark, according to the 2015 Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report from the Responsible Investment Association, the trade group formerly known as the Social Investment Organization. According to the report, as of December 31 2013, assets in Canada being managed using one or more RI strategies increased from $600bn to more than $1trn in just two years – a 68% increase in RI assets under management. Link

The Committee on Workers’ Capital, the group which works to educate union pension trustees on responsible investment, has released an analysis of 44 key proxy votes that raised environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues at corporations in 2014. Vancouver-based CWC, which in 2012 launched an interactive website, said the latest edition of its Global Proxy Review aims to help trustees evaluate the international proxy voting of their fund holdings and pursue the responsible investment of workers’ capital. It also said that France has joined the project. Éric Loiselet, trustee at the ERAFP and IRCANTEC (France), and member of the French Trustee Network for Responsible Investment (RAIR) said the review is “a unique tool”, adding: “It allows us to engage in dialogue both with teams inside our institutions and external asset managers in the implementation of our responsible investment voting policies.” Link

A majority of institutional investors see shareholder activism positively, according to FTI Consulting, the business advisory firm. FTI surveyed 100 anonymous institutional investors globally representing almost $1.7trn (€1.5trn) in assets under management. It found 76% voiced support for an increase in ‘US-style’ activism.

A group of investors in Sika is demanding a probe into whether the Burkard-Schenker family, which has a controlling stake in the Swiss adhesives maker, divulged secret information about it to Saint Gobain, the French glass group mounting an unfriendly takeover. In a letter to Sika’s management, the investors, including the Gates Foundation, Fidelity and Threadneedle, say they will ask shareholders to approve a proposal for the probe at a special meeting. Sika’s board has not yet scheduled the meeting; its management opposes the takeover.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the US proxy firm, recently issued updated guidelines for several of its benchmark global voting policies, which will be effective for analyses of publicly traded companies with shareholder meetings on or after February 1, according to a blog posting by Carol Bowie, ISS’s Head of Americas Research. She said: “For the 10th year running, ISS gathered broad input from institutional investors, corporate issuers, and other market constituents worldwide as a key part of its policy development process.”