RI ESG Briefing, September 4: Standard Life launches training portal for SRI, governance etc.

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners LP has bought 16.2% of the shares of Canada-based renewable energy firm Western Wind Energy, becoming its second-largest shareholder. Western Wind put itself up for sale earlier this year, while Brookfield runs wind and hydroelectric projects. Link

The Inter-American Development Bank has approved a loan of up to $76m to Enel Green Power subsidiary Impulsora Nacional de Electricidad to support its investment in a 74MW wind farm in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the Mexican State of Oaxaca. The region, known as ‘La Ventosa’ is one of the world’s best for wind resources.
German development bank KfW reports that in 2011, it helped Germany save 540,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide by financing the construction of energy-efficient homes and the green renovation of existing ones. The savings represent one-fifth of the government’s annual target for the household sector by 2020 – namely 2.4m tonnes of CO2. Since 2006, when the KfW began financing green renovation of the housing sector as well as public buildings, Germany’s CO2 emissions have been reduced by 5.3m tonnes annually.

Social

Asset manager Standard Life Investments has launched a portal called Learning Gateway to help institutional investors and advisers meet their professional development and training needs. Topics include corporate governance and socially responsible investing as well as equities, fixed income, real estate, derivatives, inflation-linked instruments, regulation, portfolio theory, asset allocation and securitization. Link

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European development bank, is seeking consultants to help develop environmental and social procedures in its recipient countries. The EBRD, which has a portfolio put at €35bn, assists nations in central and Eastern Europe, central Asia and North Africa via local intermediaries. It wants to assist them to both develop and implement procedures to take account of environmental, health and safety, labour, gender and social issues. EBRD tender document. Governance

Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders – via the RBoS Shareholders Action Group – are reportedly negotiating with litigation funds over launching a £3.3bn (€4.2bn) lawsuit against the bank. The investors plan to sue RBS and its former CEO Fred Goodwin and former chairman Tom McKillop for misleading them at the time of its blockbuster 2008 £12bn rights issue.

A group of public, union, and global institutional investors representing over $922bn in assets have called on US managed health care company Aetna to address “serious risks” associated with corporate political spending and lobbying activities. The move follows the publication last month of Aetna’s 2011 Political Contributions and Related Activity Report. Among the investors are: AFLCIO; The Co-operative Asset Management; F&C; Hermes Equity Ownership Services; Illinois State Board of Investment; MN Services; the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

The Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System has filed a putative class action against J.P. Morgan alleging the investment banking giant manipulated foreign exchange transactions to enrich itself at the expense of clients. The suit was filed in US District Court in New York and is the latest case of a pension fund client suing a major bank over forex deals.

US fund giant Vanguard Group founder John Bogle argues in his new book – The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation – that the “prudent, value-adding culture of long-term investment has been crowded out by an aggressive, value-destroying culture of short-term speculation”. In it he argues for a “return to the common sense principles of long-term investing”.

According to new data, none of the corporate executives appointed to the boards of companies on the benchmark FTSE 100 this year were women. Analysis from BoardWatch found that only four out of 87 executives, less than 5%, appointed by FTSE 100 companies in the past two years were women. Link