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April 07, 2017

Corporate  Governance

Norway’s oil fund wades into executive pay debate

Today Friday 7th April the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund will lay out its views of how it thinks chief executives should be paid. Yngve Slyngstad, the fund’s chief executive, says that not having a stance on salaries had become untenable. “We want the CEO to be clearly focusing on long-term value creation,” he added. Mr Slyngstad has a multitude of criticism of such arrangements for his so-called long-term incentive plans, as those can often be “managed” to ensure a chief executive receives his extra pay almost no matter what. The main idea is that a substantial part of total pay should be provided as shares that are locked in for five to 10 years, including whether the chief executive resigns or retires. There will also be a ceiling for next year’s total pay in order to avoid “unacceptable outcomes”. So far, the oil fund has rejected the pay policies of Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Reckitt Benckiser and SAP in the past year. (Financial Times)*

Air pollution

Global trade causes more than 20% of premature air pollution deaths

The production of goods around the world generates pollution that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year; according to a study published in the scientific journal Nature. More than 750,000 people die prematurely every year from the dirty air generated by making goods in one location and selling elsewhere, about a fifth of the 3.45 million premature deaths from air pollution. Twelve percent of those deaths, about 411,000 people, are a result of air pollution that has blown across national borders, said the report. The environmental burden of manufacturing falls mainly on Asia. Co-author Steven Davis, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, said “We have a role in the quality of the air in those areas. We’re taking advantage of our position as consumers, distant consumers”. The main culprits behind the phenomenon are buyers in the West, the study found. It linked consumption in Western Europe to almost 175,000 early deaths abroad and consumption in the US to more than 100,000. (RT)

Responsible Investment

City of Los Angeles reviews divestment of funds from Wells Fargo

The city of Los Angeles is reviewing a motion to terminate its investment in Wells Fargo bank. Councilmembers Paul Koretz, who represents Westwood and other communities in Los Angeles District 5, and Mitch O’Farrell presented the motion to divest from Wells Fargo in March because the bank financially supports the Dakota Access Pipeline and was found responsible for account fraud. The fraud related to Wells Fargo employees who created more than two million fake bank and credit card accounts for customers without their consent or knowledge. The University of California has already taken a stand and suspended its relationship with Wells Fargo in November due to its account fraud, said UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechem.  Mr. Koretz said he thinks the city will reinvest in what he called more socially responsible banks, which he hopes will create positive environmental and financial changes. He added he would rather invest in alternative, renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, which can lead to natural disaster. (Daily Bruin)


Sweden, UNEP and fintechs collaborate for sustainable finance

The Stockholm Fintech Hub is supporting Sweden and the United Nations Environment Programme to pilot the UN’s 2030 vision for sustainable finance. Late last year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Inquiry published their Fintech and Sustainable Development report, giving guidance for the Fintech sector, to help address a variety of social and environmental problems.  “The time and place are right to build this pilot. UNEP need a supportive environment to try out their recommendations, which are exactly aligned with Sweden’s values,” says Matt Argent of the Stockholm Fintech Hub, which is kicking off the Green Digital Financial Centre. Recommendations made in the report point to the structural inefficiency in today’s economies and a lack of transparency disadvantages individuals and communities that need to be overcome. hiveonline, a resident of the Stockholm Fintech Hub, is partnering with the Hub and UNEP to bring technical solutions to some of the proposals made. hiveonline CEO Sofie Blakstad, says: “We’re calling it “democratising trust” because it takes away the need for trust authorities like credit rating bureaus or banks, so communities can evaluate each other based on facts.  (Finextra)

Circular Economy

City of Sydney adopts net zero emissions plan

The City of Sydney last Tuesday (28th March) adopted an action plan that its leaders says will help it achieve carbon neutrality and ensure that half of its energy comes from renewable energy by 2050. The Environmental Action Plan 2016-2021 (EAP) was launched for public consultation last June and adopted last Tuesday by the City of Sydney council. The EAP will see the city invest A$10 million to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy, launch a new water recycling project, and unveil a challenge for businesses to encourage Sydney’s first net-zero emissions building. These plans will feed into the City’s 2030 aims, which include reducing carbon emissions by 70 per cent, and running the city entirely on renewable energy and gas from renewable sources, such as biogas. The City of Sydney is also asking Australia’s federal government and the New South Wales (NSW) state government to implement the Building Sustainability Index, or BASIX score, for apartments to be regarded as sustainable. (Eco-Business)

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