RI ESG Briefing, January 24: Development banks adopt harmonised approach to emissions accounting

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Ten international financial institutions have adopted a harmonised approach to greenhouse gas accounting for appraising projects to be funded. The institutions are the Agence Française de Développement, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, KFW Development Bank, the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, the Nordic Investment Bank and the World Bank. “We believe it sets a good practice standard in international cooperation and facilitates the sharing of experience,” said Johan Ljungberg, the NIB’s Head of Sustainability.

Reinsurance giant Swiss Re has released a new report investigating how the global energy mix will take shape and the impact of sustainable energy sources on climate change. Building a Sustainable Energy Future uses a scenario-based approach to outline possible energy futures and provides a framework for decision-making on renewable energies, greenhouse gas emissions and how to adapt to climate change. The report concludes with a look at how insurance can enable development in the energy sector.

The Washington Post has an in-depth report on the level of Mafia involvement in renewable energy projects in the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. It says authorities last month swept across the former in sting operations “in an unfolding plot that is part ‘The Sopranos’, part ‘An Inconvenient Truth’”. Link


US sustainable fund management firm Trillium Asset Management says four companies have responded to direct engagement on their policies on gender identity. It said Sealed Air, East West BankCorp, Reinsurance Group of America and W.W. Grainger updated their employment and non-discrimination policies to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression following engagement in the autumn of 2012. The firm said: “Trillium believes that companies and workers benefit from consistent, corporate-wide, efforts to prevent discrimination, ensuring a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees.”h6. Governance

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is trying to block a shareholder proposal from the CtW Investment Group calling for an independent chairman from appearing on its proxy ballot, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. CtW, which works with labour union pension funds with $200bn in assets, wrote to the firm last month, the Journal added.

The $9.7bn Chicago Public School Teachers’ Pension & Retirement Fund is reportedly to sell all of its holdings – worth $130,267 – in listed assault weapons makers. It’s the latest institutional investor response to the Connecticut high school massacre in December. Fund trustees had voted to instruct its managers to “liquidate any and all public-market holdings in retail assault weapon manufacturers as soon as reasonably practicable” CIO Carmen Heredia-Lopez was quoted saying.

The European Commission could put forward proposals to reward shareholder loyalty, the Financial Times reports. The FT says Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier is preparing the ground for a potential review of the “one-share one-vote” system applied to most companies in the European Union. The move would be aimed at discouraging short-term speculation and encourage market and corporate stability.

Corporate Knights, the Toronto-based media and research outfit, has announced its Global 100 list of the world’s most sustainable corporations at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The top-ranked firm is Umicore, the Belgian materials technology and recycling company. The top five was rounded out by Natura Cosmeticos, Statoil, Neste Oil and Novo Nordisk.

An index of returns of activists investors compiled by London-based research firm Activist Insight has outperformed the MSCI World Index. The Activist Insight index, comprising 35 global activist investors such as Knight Vinke, Governance for Owners and Cevian Capital, outperformed the MSCI World index by 5.4 percentage points in the first nine months of 2012, and the S&P 500 by 1.87 points. Link

Companies seeking state economic development incentives in New Jersey could face new requirements to report on how much they spend on political donations, according to local media reports. It said state legislators have put forward a stricter set of rules for businesses receiving incentives which are stricter than current rules. It would mean that firms seeking an incentive worth more than $25,000 from the state would have to show how and where it spent amounts of $10,000 or more on political giving.