Top Stories

December 02, 2014

Responsible Investment

Bank of England to examine financial risks linked to fossil fuels

The Bank of England has revealed it will examine the risks fossil fuel companies pose to financial stability. In a shift from the bank’s past statements, Mark Carney, its governor, has written to MPs informing them that his officials have discussed the idea that most of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves may be “unburnable” if global warming is to be kept within safe limits. Major market players such as ExxonMobil and Shell said this year they did not believe that reserves would be put out of bounds because a rising population would keep pushing up global energy demand. However, some investors have started to push big oil and gas companies to disclose how they would be affected if their reserves were to become “stranded” by tougher climate policies. Joan Walley MP, the chairwoman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said Mr Carney’s public commitment that the bank would monitor the financial risks of being overly exposed to fossil fuel investments was timely in view of the climate talks in Lima. (Financial Times*)

Corporate Reputation

Green Mountain Power is the first utility to become a Certified B Corp

Vermont based utility company Green Mountain Power (GMP) has been recognized as the first utility in the world to become a Certified B Corp. B Corps are companies that believe business can be a force for good and are certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. To get a B Corp certification, GMP had to demonstrate its record of accomplishment and ongoing commitment in four areas: environment, employees, community and governance. “GMP deserves credit for raising the standard of excellence for utility and corporate social responsibility and regard for its customers with its acceptance of the challenges embedded to achieve and to maintain B Corporation status,” said Richard Sedano, director of US programs for the Regulatory Assistance Project, a non-profit focused on the sustainability of the power and natural gas sectors. (CSR Wire)

Human Rights

Report finds Banks are not living up to human rights principles

A new report released by Bank Track, a campaign group, titled “Banking with Principles?” has found that global banks are making slow progress in implementing human rights standards and failing to live up to their responsibilities completely in some areas. The report assesses 32 of the largest global banks against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set out the responsibilities of businesses to respect fundamental human freedoms. Of the 32 banks covered, half were found to have developed human rights policies that include a clear commitment to respect human rights. But a majority (17 out of 32) did not provide any reporting on human rights developments or impacts at the bank. None of the banks covered were found to have grievance mechanisms in place, meaning there are no transparent means for communities or individuals to raise complaints when they feel banks have caused or contributed to a human rights abuse. (BankTrack)


UK anti-corruption law for oil, gas and mining companies enters into force

The UK’s “Reports on Payments to Governments Regulations 2014” entered into force yesterday, after being signed into law by Business Minister Jo Swinson MP. The regulations implement the anti-corruption provisions for the oil, gas, mining and logging sectors contained in Chapter 10 of the 2013 EU Accounting Directive. The UK is the first EU member state to complete transposition of the Accounting Directive’s country-by-country reporting rules for the extractive industries. Under the regulations, EU-listed UK-registered oil, gas, mining and forestry companies must report their payments to governments worldwide annually for financial years starting from January 2015, with the first company payment reports published in 2016. UK-registered extractive companies required to report under the regulations include Anglo-American, BG Group, BP, Rio Tinto and Shell. The EU’s 2013 Transparency Directive requires the UK to apply the same disclosure obligations to London Stock Exchange-listed companies such as BHP Billiton, Glencore-Xstrata, Total, Gazprom and Sinopec. (Publish What You Pay)

Technology and Innovation

IBM partners with Veolia to develop digital urban solutions

Technology giant IBM has entered into a partnership with Veolia to develop integrated digital urban solutions that will help achieve greater efficiency of municipal systems around the world. The first project that the partnership plans to deliver is solutions for Smarter Water. The solutions will incorporate the IBM Intelligent Water software, which utilises Big Data for the optimisation, integration and analysis of all data related to water management. The partnership will also launch innovative digital solutions and services for energy management and waste management. These are the areas where Veolia has extensive operations experience and IBM has proven technology. Michael Dixon, General Manager, IBM Smarter Cities, said that a combination of IBM’s data driven approach to Smarter Cities and Veolia’s strength in utilities management will help create some of the most advanced solutions in the market and make them readily available to cities. (Just Means)


Image source: West Texas Pumpjack by Eric Kounce