RI ESG Briefing, Oct 11: The news you need to know: bite-sized.

Round-up of the latest ESG developments.


The German Bank for Church and Caritas (BKC) has joined the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) in their call to divest entirely or partially from fossil fuel energy. The GCCM consists of over 400 catholic organisations and communities, which are following the call of Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’ to combat climate change. Tommy Piemonte, manager sustainability research at BKC, says: “As a catholic church we have a duty to publicly commit to divestment to also motivate other investors to engage with climate protection issues in investments.” He also says that the bank, having catholic private and institutional clients, sees it as one of its fiduciary duties to integrate ethical-sustainable investment criteria in its own investments and its in-house investment products.

Eleven cities, including London, Paris, Hong-Kong, and Dublin, have backed a new UN network to drive the growth of global green finance centres. Signatories to the Casablanca Statement are expected to cooperatively encourage other cities across the world to mobilise their financial centres towards the task of raising the huge sums of capital needed for the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The other city members include: Astana, Casablanca, Luxembourg, Milan, Qatar, Shanghai, and Stockholm.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has committed a record €800m to Indian renewable energy as it announces its partnership with International Solar Alliance. Under the agreement, the EIB will work with the International Solar Alliance to mobilise financing for the development and deployment of affordable solar energy in the Alliance’s 121 “solar rich” member countries. The Joint Declaration was formally exchanged by Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President and India at the 14th India – European Union summit. The ceremony was attended by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.


A Jewish advocacy group has reportedly called on the US State of New Jersey’s Investment Council to divest Danish bank, Danske, who it claims is boycotting Israeli businesses. The State Association of Jewish Federations claims that Danske refuses to do business with Elbit Systems and Aryt Industries, and therefore is in violation of a year-old State ban on investing in companies that boycott Israeli goods and services – Danske denies boycotting Isreal. A Treasury Department spokesman is reported as saying that its Division of Investment reviewed divestment decisions in other states and consulted a “leading third-party research firm responsible for identifying companies that boycott Israel” before clearing Danske.

California Treasurer John Chiang has reportedly urged the $213bn California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) to divest manufacturers and sellers of assault weapons in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The plea came in a letter to Harry Keiley, Chair of CalSTRS’ Investment Committee. Chiang is reported as writing: “I…strongly believe CalSTRS should not have any investments – direct or indirect – in any company which manufacturers or sells bump stocks, slide-fire devices, and other accessories that can accelerate a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire.”h6. Governance

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has released for public consultation its draft standards for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosures. Feedback on the draft will be taken for 90 days (ending on December 31). The standards set forth ESG topics covering 11 different sectors and 79 industries for public companies to disclose annually. SASB is also holding a public symposium to discuss the standards in New York on November 30. Ratification of the standards is scheduled for early 2018.

Investors should prepare for a ‘diesel moment’ for companies involved in the manufacturing of plastic packaging, CDP has warned. The data NGO has released a report on the sector, saying that “just as carmakers faced a regulatory backlash when the consequences of diesel on air pollution became clear, chemical companies could face a similar ‘diesel moment’ because of their links to plastic packaging”. The increasing number of levies or bans on plastic bags, for example, show that regulators and governments are taking steps to tackle polluting plastics, with growing attention on plastic bottle production and use, too. For the full report, see here.

State Street, the US custody and asset management giant has reportedly settled allegations that it discriminated against hundreds of female executives by paying them less than their male counterparts. Bloomberg reports that it will pay $5m to over 300 women following a US Department of Labor audit that uncovered the alleged discrepancies. State Street has says it disagrees with the findings of the audit, conducted in 2012. To mark International Women’s Day earlier this year, State Street installed the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue on Wall Street to highlight the issue of gender diversity in the workplace and mark the one-year anniversary of its SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF. Link

Australian superannuation funds are reportedly falling well short of the 30% target for women Directors that they expect of Australian companies. The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors adopted a target that women should make up 30% of ASX 200 listed companies’ Boards by the end of 2017, yet the right-of-centre Australian Financial Review said many of the funds themselves don’t meet this standard. Three of the country’s super funds reportedly having no women on their boards, including TWU Super, Australian Meat Industry Super, and NESS Super.

ESG business intelligence firm RepRisk has teamed up with the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), the global professional body, to announce their partnership to provide ESG data for the Institute of Directors’ (IoD) 2017 Good Governance Report. The Good Governance Report is the IoD’s flagship corporate governance publication, which publicly ranks the FTSE 100 based on their corporate governance performance.

Only a small minority of listed companies report comprehensively on their tax payments, providing a country-by-country breakdown and information on their number of employees, operational activities, turnover and profits. That is the finding of ESG research firm Vigeo Eiris. “Furthermore only a small number justify their physical presence or the presence of their assets in tax havens or offshore centers.”