RI ESG Briefing, March 28: Swedbank, Bank of Canada, Bloomberg, Basellandschaftliche Pensionskasse, Ortec

The round-up of the latest ESG developments


The Bank of Canada has joined the Central Banks’ and Supervisors’ Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS). The NGFS was established in December 2017 in Paris at the One Planet Summit to strengthen the global response to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Governor Stephen S. Poloz said the Bank is committed to doing its part to better understand the implications of climate change for the economy and the financial system. Currently, the Bank of Canada is developing a multi-year research plan focused on climate-related risks to the macroeconomy and financial system.

Data tycoon and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg has announced plans for a new Decarbonization Tracker for utilities. It will track the progress made by utility companies transitioning away from fossil fuels, as part of the larger global effort to reduce carbon emissions to levels in line with those established by the Paris Agreement.

Ortec Finance, in partnership with Cambridge Econometrics, has launched a tool which integrates systemic climate risks and opportunities associated with different global warming pathways into real world scenarios to enable investors to assess the resilience of their portfolios. Rotterdam-based Ortec says it’s the “first tool of its kind”.


Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), the €69.6bn Norwegian pension investor, has reportedly pledged to increase the proportion of its women employed by its investment arm to 40% by 2023. Among the measures which will be undertaken is the introduction of a paid internship scheme to encourage female participation. Håvard Gulbrandsen, chief executive of KLP Kapitalforvaltning, said: “We are also afraid of becoming outdated if we do nothing. “We must reflect society, and diversity in general.”

BankTrack, a campaign group for bank accountability, has concluded that “the world’s biggest banks are routinely hiding behind client confidentiality to conceal investments in companies and projects that infringe human and environmental rights” according to a new study. It has also found that there are no legal obstacles to disclosure “in high-risk industries like mining, oil and gas or palm oil” providing client consent is given.

Basellandschaftliche Pensionskasse (BLPK), the €8bn public pension fund for the Swiss canton of Basel-Landschaft, is developing a sustainability focus having been recently accepted into SVVKASIR, a Swiss responsible investment association, earlier this month. BLPK is currently reviewing its sustainable investing policy with plans to roll it out in the summer.h6. Governance

Shareholders pressure from Folksam, Alecta and AMF has contributed to the departure of Swedbank’s CEO, Birgitte Bonnasen. She was forced out by the board today, shortly before the bank’s AGM and will be replaced in the interim by CFO Anders Karlsson. Swedbank is engulfed in a money laundering scandal in the Baltics. The investors had declared earlier they would be voting against Bonnasen at the AGM. This comes after Bonnasen vowed “to do everything in my power to handle the current situation” in a press release yesterday. Swedbank was recently ranked third on ESG among 239 European asset managers for demonstrating a “genuine long-term commitment to sustainable investments”.

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the South African state-owned investor, has reportedly suspended acting CEO, Matshepo More, although it refused to comment on the matter. The PIC is currently conducting an inquiry over allegations of corruption by an unnamed whistleblower.

Style Analytics, an investments software provider, has announced that users of its Skyline product will be able to access Sustainalytics corporate ESG data after it entered into a distribution agreement with the ESG data provider.

Microsoft, Rolls-Royce, Toyota and H&M are among companies that have responded to investor calls for more consistent and comparable workforce data. The Workforce Disclosure Initiative, aimed at improving the quality of jobs worldwide and tackling inequality and poverty, has moved 90 global companies to share data on their direct workforce and supply chains. The Initiative is coordinated by ShareAction and includes a coalition of more than 120 investors management over £10trn including Amundi, M&G Investments and RPMI Railpen. But some big firms declined to participate: Apple, BP, China Mobile, Fresnillo, Glencore, Tesco, and Walmart.

Brown University has become the first Ivy League college to pass a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) student vote after 69% voted in favour of divestment from companies which allegedly violate human rights through their operations in Israel. Brown President Christina Paxson said that the college would not be abiding by the result. “Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues,” she said.

Western Australia’s Premier, Mark McGowan has reportedly instructed the state’s environmental protection authority to withdraw proposed emissions guidelines following lobbying by energy firms and oil majors. Confirming “who really runs climate policy in that state, and indeed this country”, according to Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR). The proposed guidelines, which would have required new projects emitting more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 to offset those emissions, were scrapped the very same day McGowan met representatives from Chevron, Santos and Woodside.