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RI ESG Briefing, May 14: Investors tackle National Express on labour rights at AGM

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

Walden Asset Management, the US-based sustainability specialist, has welcomed consumer products group Colgate-Palmolive’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and 50% by 2050. The move was taken in consultation with Walden, Colgate said. “We hope that this commitment will serve as a catalyst for other companies considering GHG goals for the first time, and those that are setting new goals,” Walden added.

Forty-three state legislators in Massachusetts have backed a bill that would require the state’s pension funds to exit from $1.4bn in fossil fuel investments within five years, according to a Reuters report. And the Maine legislature has set up a task force to develop an environmental, social and governance policy for the $12bn Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

The Philippines’ largest solar power plant is set to commence commercial operations. San Carlos Solar Energy’s 22MW plant goes live on May 15. San Carlos is a joint venture between the ThomasLloyd Cleantech Infrastructure Fund and local player Bronzeoak Philippines Inc. ThomasLloyd is the investment banking and investment management group, solely dedicated to the renewable energy sector in Asia. Link

Social

Unilever’s €4.6bn ‘Progress’ pension fund plans to increase its socially responsible investments following good results, according to a report in IPE.com citing the fund’s 2013 annual report. After an initial 1% allocation, Progress extended its ESG policy to high-yield bonds and broadened the application of ESG criteria to its internally run European credit portfolio, the report added.

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) in the UK has reportedly launched a commission to advise charities and social enterprises on investing responsibly. The group will be chaired by Martin Clarke, Chair of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) and include people from the finance, responsible investment, grant-making and voluntary sectors. It is sponsored by fund manager CCLA.h6. Governance

US and UK labour union bodies the Teamsters and the Trades Union Congress are supporting a shareholder resolution sponsored by a group of UK local authority pension funds (Greater Manchester, Islington and Nottinghamshire) at transport group National Express today (May 14). The resolution calls on the company to improve board oversight of human capital management, and address what are termed “systemic and longstanding” issues with how the company treats its workers in North America. It is believed to be the only shareholder resolution filed at a British company this year, and the first shareholder requisitioned resolution to be presented at National Express.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum is calling on its members to oppose the appointment of former BP chief Tony Hayward as chairman of Glencore Xstrata over the mining and commodities group’s failure to set targets for female directors. LAPFF represents some 60 funds with combined assets of about £120bn. “It is four years on from the Davies Review, yet Glencore Xstrata, with its global presence, still seems unable to find a woman anywhere in the world of sufficient capability to join the board,” LAPFF said. Link

Trillium Asset Management is filing a shareholder proposal on board diversity at Angiodynamics, arguing that the medical device maker has no woman on its board of directors. “Smiths Group Plc, a healthcare sector peer, has two women on its board. C.R.Bard and Teleflex, also peers, each have one woman on their boards,” Trillium says, adding that the ability to draw on a wide range of viewpoints, skills, and experience is critical to a company’s success.

A case brought by the City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System, a Massachusetts pension fund, against Walmart Stores relating to allegations about corruption in its Mexico arm can go ahead, according to reports. Arkansas Judge Erin Setser in Fayetteville recommended denying the retail giant’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, according to Reuters. The case stems from the reporting by the New York Times that led to Walmart losing some $17bn of market value.