RI ESG Briefing, January 29: ‘Aiming for A’, OECD, SEC proxy roundtable, Carbon Tracker

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


The £160bn (€213bn) ‘Aiming for A’ Investor Coalition has welcomed today’s decision by Royal Dutch Shell, as reported by RI, that it will recommend acceptance of the ‘Strategic Resilience for 2035 and Beyond’ resolution on climate change submitted by the coalition. “This development from Shell is a clear example of the effectiveness of shareholder engagement backed by investor commitment. Universal owners taking an active approach to long-term risk, sustainability and carbon management issues has benefits both for our beneficiaries and for our underlying investments,” said Kieran Quinn, Chair of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum and co-filer the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. But Shell’s announcement that it will go ahead with plans to drill in the Arctic has been met with dismay. “Not well received in ESG community,” tweeted RobecoSAM’s Senior Engagement Specialist Sylvia van Waveren.

The Climate Bonds Initiative, the not-for-profit group which promotes green bonds, has announced a C$100,000 (€70,000) commitment from Canadian philanthropist Serge Martin. Martin is founder of SOFINOV, a venture capital fund of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the largest pension fund in Canada. Martin said: “The Climate Bonds Initiative is an NGO that has achieved an enormous amount on a virtually zero budget. I thought ‘imagine what it could do with some funding’.” The Climate Bonds Initiative has issued an open invitation to banks, issuers, investors and NGOs to join as Climate Bond Partners. Link

Carbon Tracker, the NGO that popularized the ‘stranded assets’ theory, has released a response to carbon risk reports from oil companies Shell and Exxon prepared for them by consultants UHS Herold and industry association IPIECA. The reports are “complacent about the future for oil and gas, and understate the risks to industry business models”, the London-based group says.


The OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, is set to unveil a major new report next week on social impact investment. The OECD was commissioned by the G8 Social impact Investment Taskforce to write a detailed report on the global development of impact investment last year. The report was due to be published last September but was delayed. The report, “Social Impact Investment: Building the Evidence Base” will highlight the importance of internal collaborations in developing global standards on definitions, data collection and impact measurement.

Big Society Capital (BSC), the UK’s social investment ‘wholesaler’, has released figures which show that £104m has been drawn down since its inception in 2012 – £36m from BSC funds and £68m from co-investors. Of BSC’s £36m – 31% has been invested in property, 9% in helping charities with social impact bond delivery and 40% in asset-locked organisations and social investment infrastructure.h6. Governance

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is hosting a roundtable on February 19 “to explore ways to improve the proxy voting process”. The roundtable will focus on universal proxy ballots and retail participation in the proxy process, the SEC said. The first panel will focus on the state of contested director elections and whether changes should be made to federal proxy rules to “facilitate the use of universal proxy ballots by management and proxy contestants”. The roundtable will be open to the public and webcast live on the SEC’s website.

Canada’s new requirements on boardroom gender diversity will have “notable consequences” for companies in the 2015 proxy voting season, according to a preview by law firm Stikeman Elliot. “The new requirements impose additional disclosure requirements on items not typically addressed in proxy materials,” it said, adding that the amendments suggests that boards “should hold conversations” on the items addressed by the new requirements to establish or refine their corporation’s position on gender diversity.

A group of investors led by lead plaintiff, Dutch pension asset management giant PGGM, that are suing Hewlett-Packard Co. over the computer group’s botched purchase of Autonomy Corp., have reportedly urged a California federal judge to certify their class and reject HP’s argument that they indeed profited from the deal.

An all-star commission chaired by former US Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers and the UK’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls have recommended reforms to corporate governance and a shift away from short-termism to improve prosperity in industrial economies. The recommendations from the Inclusive Prosperity Commission are featured in a report housed on the Center for American Progress website and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The commissioners included David Sainsbury, former British Minister of Science and Innovation and Wayne Swan, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Treasurer of Australia. Link

PGGM voted against the pay report at this week’s annual meeting of German tech giant Siemens. It said: “The company does not disclose any information on claw-back provisions in the remuneration report. This is not in line with PGGM’s remuneration guidance. Hence, PGGM will oppose this item.”

Pfizer has agreed to pay $400m to avert a trial in a shareholder class action lawsuit alleging the drugs group of misled investors over off-label marketing, according to a Reuters report citing a company filing. The case, relating to stock bought from January 2006-January 2009, had featured the Stichting Philips Pensioenfonds, the pension fund of the electronics group, as lead plaintiff.