RI ESG Briefing, Jan. 10: Boost for new Sustainability Accounting Standards Board

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Triodos Renewables Plc, the UK company managed by aged by Triodos Bank NV, says it plans to build two new wind turbines in Suffolk, in eastern England – its ninth renewable energy project. The electricity generated will power the host industrial site, significantly alleviating its carbon footprint.

The Global Green Growth Institute, the environmental think tank, has teamed up with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics to launch a research project on ‘green growth and the new industrial revolution’ – aiming to understand the link between environmental protection, growth, and development. The program is broken down into four projects: 1) Macroeconomic issues; 2) Studies of the impact of innovation and other climate-change policies; 3) Evidence from economic history about the sources of growth and the role of policy; 4) Growth and adaptation to climate change.


The new Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has had a boost by becoming accredited by the American National Standards Institute, the Washington-based not-for-profit organization. It comes ahead of the inaugural meeting of SASB’s new Standards Council. Steve Lydenberg, Fellow of the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University and member of SASB’s Board of Directors, will serve as interim Chair until a permanent chair is elected at the meeting. SASB’s recently named Director of Standards Development, Jerome Lavigne-Delville, former with the UN Global Compact, will be Council liaison.
Among other Standards Council members are: Jim Coburn (Ceres); Christine Ervin (ex-US Green Building Council); Jeffrey Hales (Georgia Tech); Tom Kiely )ex-McKinsey & Co.); Jameela Pedicini (CalPERS); Elizabeth Seeger (KKR); Jeremy Shapiro (Morgan Stanley); and Nigel Topping (Carbon Disclosure Project).h6. Governance

New York City Comptroller John Liu, trustee of the NYC Pension Funds, has hailed a “landmark” victory for shareholders as controversial natural gas firm Chesapeake has adopted a variety of corporate governance reforms, including shareholder nomination of directors (proxy access). Chesapeake added in a filing that it is focusing on social responsibility “in more depth”. And director searches will in future include diverse candidates in all director searches, taking into account diversity of race, gender, age, culture, thought and geography.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer will reportedly call on the state’s pension funds to exit their investments in manufacturers of high-capacity ammunition clips, a further response to last month’s Sandy Hook mass shooting in Connecticut. Reuters reported that the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) is scheduled to respond to Lockyer’s earlier plan to divest from gun makers.

Some of the largest investors in the US have voted against ratifying the appointment of Deloitte & Touche as auditors at pharmacy chain Walgreen & Co., according to advance voting data. CalSTRS, the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Pension Plan and Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) have all voted against ratifying the appointment. Walgreens, the largest drug retailing chain in the US, held its annual general meeting in Chicago on January 9. The meeting also featured a shareholder proposal on the pro-rata vesting of equity awards, tabled by the New York-based Amalgamated Bank’s LongView Large Cap 500 Index Fund.

Major listed UK companies are increasingly listening to their major institutional shareholders about aligning executive pay with performance, according to a Financial Times report citing consulting firm Towers Watson. The FT said last year’s ‘shareholder spring’ which featured numerous governance battles, has been followed by an autumn of progress behind closed doors.