Top Stories

January 15, 2019

Sustainable Investment/ Accountability

BlackRock urged to close gap between rhetoric and real climate action

South African shareholder activism and responsible investment organisation Just Share is one of 12 shareholder advocacy groups and investors from around the globe that have called on the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, to improve its climate engagements. BlackRock consistently votes against shareholder climate proposals and has a worse track record than other large global asset managers, the letter states. This is in anticipation of Blackrock’s CEO’s yearly letter to companies reminding them of their need to address global strategic challenges and deliver long-term value for shareholders and society. Trillium Asset Management, Boston Common Asset Management, and Ethos Fund join 9 NGOs, including ShareAction, ClientEarth, and South Africa’s Just Share, in writing to Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock. The letter calls out the fund manager for its own poor contribution to environmental goals, especially in light of growing urgency to tackle the risk of climate change to the global economy. (Just Share)

Sustainable Investment/ Research

ESG screening boosts stock market performance, research finds

Screening companies and investments using ESG criteria have been shown to positively impact investment returns and stock market performance, according to recent analysis from asset manager, Amundi. The analysis looked at investment data from 2010-2017 to analyse the performance of 1,700 companies across five MSCI investment index groups using ESG criteria. Between 2010 and 2013, ESG investing tended to penalise both passive and active ESG investors, drawing average declines, but from 2014 to 2017 ESG investing outperformed other forms of investment in Europe and North America, according to the research. Overall, the study found ESG screening does not impact all stocks, but tends to impact the best-in-class and worst-in-class assets. “Since stock prices reflect supply and demand balance, our research shows that ESG screening has influenced stock market performance,” Thierry Roncalli, Amundi’s head of quantitative research said. (Business Green)*

Environment/ Policy

High-profile businesses ramp up pressure on Scotland to make carbon-neutral pledge

The likes of Coca-Cola, Tesco and Sky have called on the Scottish Parliament to “seize the chance to renew their position as climate leader” by achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050. It comes as a survey of 300 businesses shows that more than half (53 percent) of large firms in Scotland believe the response to climate change presents an economic opportunity. Commenting on the findings, commissioned by WWF Scotland, the organisation’s deputy director Sam Gardner said: “These polling results are striking and show that the Scottish spirit of adapting and innovating in response to global challenges is alive and well in our business community. “Businesses are recognising that to thrive into the future the challenge of climate change must be tackled head on and embraced.” Among the 11 high-profile businesses calling for Scottish Parliament to step up action on climate change include Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), whose manufacturing site in East Kilbride already uses 100% renewable electricity. (Edie)

Campaigns and Activism

Gillette #MeToo ad on ‘toxic masculinity’ cuts deep with men’s rights activists

Gillette is under fire from men’s rights activists and rightwing publications for a new advertisement that engages with the #MeToo movement and plays on its 30-year tagline “The Best A Man Can Get”, asking instead: “Is this the best a man can get?” The film has generated heated debate and plenty of criticism. Among the objections were that the video implied most men were sexual harassers or violent thugs, that it was “virtue-signalling” by a company that doesn’t care about the issue, and that the advertisement was emasculating. However, others have praised the campaign, saying the backlash has shown how necessary a campaign against toxic masculinity is. Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, said the advertisement was part of a broader initiative for the company to promote “positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man”. (Guardian)

Keep America Beautiful and Nestlé Waters North America partner to clean up national parks during government shutdown

As national parks face issues with unmanaged waste during the government shutdown, Keep America Beautiful, the largest community improvement organization in the US, and Nestlé Waters North America, one of the leading beverage companies in North America, announced that they are teaming up to help mobilize affiliate organizations and volunteers across the country to clean up these shared public spaces. This national effort will kick off on St. Simons Island in Georgia with Keep America Beautiful local affiliates to clean up and maintain trash and recycling container service at the historic Fort Frederica National Monument and the Bloody Marsh National Monument during the government shutdown. Other Keep America Beautiful affiliates are actively engaging national parks staff in their local areas to provide support for clean ups as future needs arise. Nestlé Waters North America has generously offered resources, through financial donations and employee volunteers, to assist in these efforts. (PR Newswire)


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Image source: Grand Canyon South Rim #6 by jb10okie on Flickr.CC BY-ND 2.0.