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RI ESG Briefing, May 9: Australian super funds rate companies on sustainability

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

The UK’s new Green Investment Bank says it has committed funds to 11 transactions with a total value of £2.3bn (€2.7bn). It has directly committed £635m and “supported transactions in all of its priority sectors: offshore wind, energy efficiency and waste”. The bank said it would announce “the full green impact” of the deals at an annual stakeholder meeting in Edinburgh on June 26. The GIB had earlier disclosed an investment alliance with Abu Dhabi backed clean energy firm, Masdar.

Dutch pension asset manager PGGM has backed shareholder advocacy group As You Sow’s climate change proposal at coal company CONSOL Energy. It said: “PGGM will vote FOR this resolution as the company could provide more information on how it is assessing and managing the impact that climate change may have on its operations.”

Social

The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) has released a new report. Making Free Prior & Informed Consent a Reality: Indigenous Peoples and the Extractive Sector was co-written by Cathal Doyle and Jill Carino. It advocates for multinational mining companies, the investor community, and state actors to understand the importance of the FPIC principle from ethical, sustainability and economic perspectives. Link

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University and the City of Cambridge have initiated and signed up to a “living and voluntary” Community Compact for a Sustainable Future – a partnership to tackle global environmental, social and economic sustainability challenges on a local level. The Compact creates a framework to use the community’s research, innovation, social enterprise and governance skills to address issues such as waste and water management, energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and adaptation, renewable energy, and green tech incubation and promotion.

Hong Kong-based sustainability firm RepuTex ESG has launched its new online Data Source which will provide investors, companies and the public with access to ESG ratings and performance scores on more than Asian 1,000 firms.h6. Governance

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), which supports its member funds on environmental, social and corporate governance risks, has released a report looking at how domestic companies disclose sustainability risks. The Sustainability Reporting Journey: Corporate Reporting in Australia – Disclosure of Sustainability Risks Among S&P/ASX200 Companies finds that almost half of companies on the ASX200 index are still rated at a level of No Reporting or Basic Reporting – although 85% of companies in the ASX200 provide at least a ‘Basic’ level of sustainability risk reporting.

Canada’s C$98.7bn (€74.9bn) British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC) and Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) have filed a joint shareholder proposal calling for the establishment of an independent chair at media giant News Corporation. The resolution is also supported by the UK’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF). And the Nathan Cummings Foundation is also calling for the elimination of the company’s dual-class share structure. Similar motions last year were well support by independent shareholders.

The $45.7bn New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) says it has “fully divested” its holdings of listed gun and ammunition makers. It follows a review of its exposure to such investments in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings. “Our City’s employees do not want their pension dollars supporting companies whose products tear apart families and shatter communities,” Comptroller John Liu said. “Our funds are exposed to financial and reputational risk with these investments.”

Sustainable funds firm Trillium Asset Management has filed a board diversity shareholder proposal at tech firm Cree Inc. It’s calling for the board to “take every reasonable step to ensure that women and minority candidates are in the pool from which Board nominees are chosen” and commit itself to a policy of Board inclusiveness.