Top Stories

May 24, 2019

Corporate Reputation

JPMorgan Chase drops Purdue Pharma as a client

Financial services firm, JPMorgan Chase, has dropped its client Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin maker, which has been accused of fuelling the US opioid crisis in thousands of lawsuits. Purdue, owned by the billionaire Sackler family, was forced to find a new bank after JPMorgan told the pharmaceuticals company that it was cutting ties because of rising reputational risk. JPMorgan did not lend to Purdue but managed its money and bills. Purdue is defending itself in the many court cases, denying accusations that its marketing tactics fuelled the crisis, arguing that the drug was approved by regulators. Under the weight of potential liabilities from lawsuits filed by state attorneys-general across the US, Purdue has said that it is considering bankruptcy. US banks have increasingly waded into ethical debates in recent years, with institutions including Citigroup and Bank of America restricting financing to manufacturers and sellers of firearms, while JPMorgan discontinued private prison financing earlier this year. (Financial Times)*

Climate Change

Bank of England issues climate risk guidance to ‘unlock action’ from insurers

The Bank of England (BofE) has issued new guidance to help insurance and reinsurance companies measure and assess the financial risks posed by climate threats such as heatwaves, floodsand storms. The guidance, which aims to “unlock the shift from awareness to action” on climate change, was developed by a working group made up of finance experts, insurance firms and industry regulators the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). It sets out a six-stage framework to help the sector develop scenarios and risk management approaches to extreme weather, which is expected to become more frequent and severe as global temperatures rise. It follows warnings last month from BofE governor Mark Carney about the severity of the threat posed by climate change to the financial sector, which he said needed urgent reforms to “raise the bar” on risk measurement to avoid economic catastrophe. The guidance is designed as a starting point for insurance practitioners to begin assessing physical climate risk in the context of their business decisions and disclosure requirements, using tools already available within the sector. (Business Green)

UK public want chief execs to lead on climate action, survey finds

Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of the UK public believe that the chief executives of corporations should be leading the national fight against climate change, a new survey conducted by consultancy Kin&Co has found. The survey asked adults about their attitudes to sustainable business and climate action. In total, 69 percent agreed that climate change is now an “urgent issue” for large brands, rather than something likely to affect them in the distant future. The survey also found that 59 percent would like to see their favourite brands declare a ‘Climate Emergency’. The research found that events, such as the recent school climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests, coupled with increasing mainstream media reports of scientific research into climate change, is already beginning to change the behaviour of consumers and staff. The survey revealed 35 percent of respondents said they want their employer to take bolder and more ambitious action on climate change, with nearly one third saying they would respect their organisation’s chief executive more if they led on this agenda. (Edie)

Indices & Rankings

S&P Dow Jones Indices Launches Global ESG Index Series

S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI), the world’s leading index provider has released the latest addition to its global Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) index family. This new set of indices provides performance profiles in line with several headline indices including the S&P Global 1200, Europe 350, S&P/ASX 200 and S&P Japan 500. The new indices also include ESG versions of S&P DJI’s well-known country and regional large and midcap benchmarks covering the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific. These global ESG indices use enhanced ESG Scores and granular data that underpin the methodology for company inclusions and exclusions. The new indices follow the debut of the S&P 500® ESG Index that was released last month. These global ESG indices follow eligibility criteria based on companies’ ESG Scores, business activities and the UN Global Compact (UNGC). The indices exclude companies that produce tobacco, have tobacco sales and tobacco-related products and services greater than 10 percent of their revenues, and companies involved in controversial weapons either directly or via an ownership stake of 25 percent or more of another company involved in these weapons. A total of 22 regional and country ESG indices are part of this global launch. (S&P Indices)

Sustainable Tourism

Eden Project seeks to ‘breathe new life’ into former Australian mine

The creator of the world’s largest indoor rainforest, Britain’s Eden Project, has unveiled plans to turn a former Australian coal mine into a major eco-tourism attraction aimed at educating visitors on sustainability. The Eden Project has become one of Britain’s best-known social enterprises since opening 20 years ago on the site of a former quarry, and now hopes to replicate that success in Australia. It will work with Alcoa, the aluminium giant that owns the mine in the Australian coastal town of Anglesea, to develop the attraction which they say could create 300 jobs and “breathe new life” into the community. David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International, said creating work opportunities could help reverse the emigration of skilled talent Anglesea has suffered since the mine closed in 2015 after 46 years of operation. Construction work for the site, which is set to open in 2023 or 2024, will be funded by social investors, who want their capital to deliver positive social impact. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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Image Source: Day 34: Spilled Out by Ajay Suresh on Flickr. CC BY 2.0