Top Stories

June 15, 2018

Sustainable Finance / Waste

As You Sow launches investor alliance to engage companies on plastic pollution

As You Sow has announced the launch of the Plastic Solutions Investor Alliance, an international coalition of investors that will engage publicly traded consumer goods companies on the threat posed by plastic waste and pollution. Twenty-five institutional investors from four countries with a combined $1 trillion of assets under management have signed a declaration citing plastic pollution as a clear corporate brand risk and pledging to interact with leading companies to find solutions through new corporate commitments, programs, and policies. These investors include Aviva Investors, Candriam Investors Group, Dignity Health, Hermes Investment Management, Impax Asset Management, Robeco, Walden Asset Management. The group will prioritize initial high-level engagement with four large international consumer goods companies: Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. It will encourage them, and other companies, to disclose annual plastic packaging use, acknowledge responsibility and play a significant role in funding and facilitating collection and recycling or composting of packaging in markets where they operate as well as set plastic use reduction goals. (As You Sow)

Sustainable Finance

UBS Global Wealth Management debuts private client sustainable investment portfolio

UBS Global Wealth Management has announced the launch of its first sustainable investing portfolio in the UK, building on similar offers in Asia Pacific and Switzerland. The private client arm of the Swiss banking giant said it was responding to “growing demand” for sustainable and impact investing solutions among UK clients, citing a recent survey of 400 UBS GWM UK clients which found 94 percent would invest in or consider investing in sustainable and impact portfolios. UBS GWM said its new strategy will enable UK clients to invest in a cross-asset portfolio that maps against a global standard for sustainable investing developed by the company. “The strategy mirrors UBS GWM’s traditional strategic asset allocation for UK clients, aiming to offer similar risk / return profiles with sustainable outcomes,” it added. The approach will allow clients to invest in a range of asset classes, including green bonds and ESG equity funds focused on shareholder engagement. The company said it had forged exclusive collaborations with the World Bank and Hermes to build elements of the portfolio. (BusinessGreen)


Report: India facing the “worst water crisis in its history”

India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water storage, a government think-tank. The Niti Aayong report, which draws on data from 24 of India’s 29 states, say the crisis is “only going to get worse” in the years ahead. It also warns that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020 despite increasing demand. This would also threaten food security as 80 percent of water is used in agriculture. As cities and towns grow, the pressure on urban water resources is expected to increase – the report estimates that demand will be twice as much as available supply by 2030. Water scarcity would also account for a 6% loss in India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Despite progress, fifteen of the 24 states scored better than they did the previous year, there is still a long way to go. The report said that policymakers face a difficult situation because there is not enough data available on how households and industries use and manage water. (BBC)

Sustainable Finance / Energy

European banks launch green mortgage pilot scheme

A group of 37 major European banks are joining forces to launch a new energy efficiency scheme. The trial aims to improve the energy performance of households and buildings by incentivising buyers with special rates on their mortgage. Banks signed up to the scheme over the next 2 years include BNP Paribas, ING Bank, Nordea Bank and Société Générale. The scheme, led by the World Green Banking Council, and funded by the European Union, hopes to establish a major new growth area within the financial and property sectors. New buildings will have to meet national standards for zero-energy buildings, or separately show that they are 20 percent more efficient than national standards. Renovated buildings will only be issued the mortgage if a 30 percent reduction in energy demand can be achieved. Stephanie Sfakianos, BNP Paribas’ head of sustainable capital markets, said the initiative is a “key building block in tackling the carbon emission challenge, while supporting consumers to live more comfortable and healthy lives.” (Climate Action Programme)


Report: BP’s global data for 2017 shows record highs for coal and renewables

Renewable energy grew by the largest amount ever in 2017, while coal-fired electricity also reached a record high, according to new global data from oil giant BP. However, set against continued rapid rises in energy demand fuelled by oil and gas, renewables were not enough to prevent global CO2 emissions rising significantly for the first time in four years, the figures show. Wind, solar and other non-hydro renewable energy sources grew by 69 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2017. This was their largest-ever increase, breaking last year’s record of 53Mtoe. Renewables were also the fastest-growing source of energy last year, up 17 percent. Nevertheless, all low-carbon sources together met just a third of the 253Mtoe (2.2 percent) increase in global energy demand in 2017. Fossil fuels met the remaining two thirds, with gas (+83Mtoe, 3.0 percent) the single-largest source of new energy supply last year. Overall, fossil fuels’ share of the global electricity mix fell half a percentage point last year, to 64.7 percent. (Carbon Brief)


UK Social Mobility Awards

There are two weeks left for companies to enter the UK Social Mobility Awards and share what they and their employees have been doing to advance social mobility. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner which will be held at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square at 6.30pm on October 18th 2018.

Enter here.


Image source: Pangong Tso by Prashant Y on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.