RI ESG Briefing, Nov. 14: Pension Danmark complements wind and biomass with gas pipeline stake

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


PensionDanmark is to acquire a 40% stake in NGT, the owner of an offshore pipeline network carrying natural gas from fields in the North Sea for treatment in the Netherlands. It said: “The investment forms part of PensionDanmark’s investments in infrastructure assets and should be seen as complementing its existing investments in wind farms and biomass facilities.” The deal is with Abu Dhabi-based energy company TAQA and is worth €171m.

A guide to help companies to manage and report on their direct and indirect influences on climate policy has been launched by the UN Global Compact, in cooperation with seven leading international organizations. The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy sets baseline expectations for companies to provide proactive, constructive input for governments to create effective climate policies.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, has fleshed out seven possible design elements of a sustainable financial system at the UNEP Finance Initiative Global Round Table in Beijing. They include: regulatory oversight; responsibilities; information; incentives; innovation; risk; and capital regulations. He called for “what one might call the inclusive Green Economy 2.0.”


Faith group the Ecumenical Council on Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) and ShareAction, the campaign group, have jointly written to the UK government requesting that the government’s proposed Modern Slavery Bill should require large companies to disclose what, if anything, they are doing to tackle human trafficking and modern-day slavery within their supply chains. The letter was written in co-ordination with ECCR member Rathbone Greenbank, the UK ethical investor with over £585m (€699.3m) in assets under management. It follows ECCR’s support for an unsuccessful private members bill proposing similar transparency in company supply chain legislation last year. The Government has now announced that there will be an official consultation on the proposed Modern Slavery Bill and ECCR hopes to contribute to this in “due course”.h6. Governance

Trillium Asset Management, the US-based sustainable funds firm with around $1.2bn (€892m) in assets under management, is trying to get a shareholder resolution on equal employment policies onto the annual meeting agenda at energy firm National Fuel Gas Co. The proposal would call for the company to amend its equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The company is resisting the motion, filed on behalf of the Social Justice Fund Northwest, the Seattle-based foundation, arguing in correspondence with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Trillium has failed to establish the “requisite eligibility” to make the proposal.

USS Investment Management, which oversees the assets of the £40bn Universities Superannuation Scheme, has selected MSCI ESG Research to provide environmental, social, and governance (ESG) research, ratings, and screening tools. USSIM has subscribed to MSCI ESG IVA for ESG ratings and company, industry, and thematic reports

Computer giant Apple is challenging a shareholder proposal on ‘proxy access’ – the shareholder nomination of director candidates – filed by governance activist John Chevedden on behalf of his colleague James McRitchie. Apple contests Chevedden is not eligible to submit the proposal on McRitchie’s behalf and its legal team refers to a previous case filed by New York-listed Waste Connections dealing with a similar issue. Link

The SEC has received 643,599 comment letters on a petition calling for a corporate disclosure rule on political spending, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing senior SEC official Felicia Kung. The petition, in the wake of the 2010 Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, was put together by a group of law professors, including Harvard Law School’s Lucian Bebchuk and Columbia Law School’s John Coffee.

A re-organisation has been proposed for the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) to increase its legitimacy and representativeness. Former European Investment Bank President Philippe Maystadt made the recommendation to help strengthen the European Union’s “diffuse” influence in international accounting standard-setting at the request of Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier. Link