Top Stories

May 03, 2016

Responsible Investment

RobecoSAM and Bloomberg to showcase DJSI rankings to investors

Sustainability investment specialist RobecoSAM has announced a partnership with Bloomberg to share company rankings from the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) with the global investment community. In a survey conducted last year, the majority of DJSI member companies expressed their support for publishing selected results in order to highlight the environmental, social and governance performance of companies. Bloomberg licensees will be able to view companies’ relative position among industry peers (i.e. percentile rankings), both at an aggregated level and on individual issues such as operational eco-efficiency and corporate governance. The move will enable the comparison of DJSI results between companies, and cross-comparison with other ESG research. Companies will be able to demonstrate that they belong to a leading group within their industry, and better answer questions about their “DJSI Score” when speaking to analysts and investors. (RobecoSAM)


Norway’s oil fund to target high executive pay votes

The world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund is launching a crackdown on executive pay, targeting high salaries at companies around the globe. Norway’s $870 billion oil fund is looking for a first company to target publicly on pay in the coming months. The move is significant for almost every listed company in the world as Norway’s oil fund owns on average 1.3 per cent of each one. The decision comes as executive pay faces increased scrutiny from shareholders, particularly in Britain. Weir Group investors last week defeated management pay plans with a 72 per cent majority in the biggest protest against executive pay since binding UK votes were introduced. The Norwegian fund has been making a push to be more active in corporate governance matters, but has previously focused on pay structures rather than pay levels. Last month the fund voted in favour of BP chief executive Bob Dudley’s pay rise, but  voted against miner Anglo American’s pay policies. (Financial Times)


Buffett fizzes in defence of Cherry Coke

Warren Buffett set himself on a potential collision course with public health campaigners when he said it was “quite spurious” to lay the blame for obesity and diabetes at the door of fizzy drinks companies, such as his part-owned Coca-Cola, at the annual meeting of his investment vehicle Berkshire Hathaway. One attendee cited a Tufts University study that linked fizzy drinks to 184,000 deaths annually worldwide, questioning whether Berkshire investors should take pride in their 9 per cent stake in Coca-Cola. Buffett decried any link between Coca-Cola and obesity-related illnesses, and insisted consumption levels were a matter of personal choice. The investor also responded to climate scientist Jim Hansen, who urged Berkshire to publish a report on climate risks and support a price on carbon emissions. “We’re not denying climate change is an incredibly important subject, we’re not denying its existence. But it will not hurt our insurance business,” Buffett said. (Financial Times)


Nestlé Waters UK reveals 100 per cent switch to clean energy

Nestlé Waters has announced its UK operations are now powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity. The firm, which produces San Pellegrino, Aqua Panna, Perrier, Volvic and Buxton Natural Mineral Water, said electricity used in its factory in Buxton now comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectricity. The factory relies on local supplies of clean power, sourcing 30 per cent of its electricity from a local hydroelectricity supplier. The supply contract means consumers can now enjoy bottled water powered by water, said Federico Sarzi Braga, head of Nestlé Waters in the UK. Braga said Nestlé Waters’ next focus is on developing “100 per cent sustainable packaging”. Braga suggested new packaging could be based on recycled plastic or plant-based PET. (Business Green)

Innovation & Technology

Researchers aim to put carbon dioxide back to work

Rather than throwing away or storing CO2, how about recycling some of it? The X Prize Foundation has created a $20 million prize for teams that by 2020 come up with technologies to turn CO2 captured from smokestacks of coal, or gas, fired power plants into useful products. But perhaps the ultimate goal of researchers is to turn the waste product into new fuel. In theory, if this could be done on a large scale using renewable energy or even sunlight, there would be no net gain of emissions. The same carbon dioxide molecules would be emitted, captured, made into new fuels and emitted again, over and over. “The grand prize is figuring out how to make CO2 be recyclable, a renewable resource,” said Harry A. Atwater, a materials scientist at the California Institute of Technology and director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. “That would be a millennial advance for society.” (New York Times)


Image source: A typical offshore oil platform by  NASA JPL / Public Domain