Top Stories

October 30, 2020

Sustainable Investment 

BlackRock pushes for global ESG standards

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has called for the “alphabet soup” of standards used by companies to showcase their sustainability efforts to be replaced by a globally recognised framework, warning an overhaul was vital for investors to understand the risks companies face. Investors have consistently argued that data on sustainability issues are often of bad quality or inconsistent, making comparisons between companies difficult. This follows from last month when five sustainability organisations, SASB, GRI, IIRC, CDP and CDSB said that they planned to work together to develop a global reporting system. BlackRock added that creating a global framework may take “some time”, but that it expected companies to continue to disclose information on sustainability issues using SASB and the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures until an international standard was established. (Financial Times*) 


Walmart pulls guns from display over ‘civil unrest’ concerns

US Supermarket, Walmart has removed gun and ammunition from display in thousands of its stores in the United States, citing concerns of “civil unrest”. However, customers will still be able to buy guns and ammunition on request. It is not yet known how long firearms will be removed from the sales floor. The decision comes after a fatal police shooting in Philadelphia triggered protests that saw some shops looted. Walmart also withdrew guns and ammunition from some outlets in June after stores were damaged during protests following the killing of George Floyd. This follows a series of actions Walmart has taken including the end of sales of assault-style weapons in 2015, and the sales of some types of ammunition that can be used in assault-style weapons in 2019. (BBC) 


P&G and Electrolux among corporate members of major new water security alliance

Businesses including Procter & Gamble (P&G), Electrolux and Suez have joined a new initiative aimed at uniting the private, public and third sectors with policymakers in a collective drive to tackle water scarcity. Called the 50L Home Coalition, the initiative is being convened by the World Economic Forum, 2030 Water Resources Group and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It will work to minimise water use in homes and business operations in some of the world’s most water-stressed urban areas. The UN has estimated that, on a ‘business-as-usual’ trajectory, more than half of the global population will be living in water-scarce areas by 2050. The 50L Home Coalition hopes that the framework will “re-invent the future of water and change the narrative” on water consumption. (edie) 


City charter pushes business to bring through senior black executives

Some of the most prominent advisory and law firms including KPMG and Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are among the first businesses to sign up to a charter that pushes for greater representation of black people in senior positions in financial and professional services companies in the UK. The charter has been modelled on a similar Women in Finance initiative that was launched four years ago by the Treasury, with the emphasis on measurable data against which firms can assess progress, clear action plans, accountability at the top level of each firm and independent monitoring. Any company that signs up to the charter must follow eight recommendations, including the appointment of a member of the senior executive team accountable for black representation and inclusion and five-year targets. (Financial Times*) 


EU set to deny gas power plants a green investment label

Power plants fuelled by natural gas will not be classed as a sustainable investment in Europe, unless they meet an emissions limit that none currently comply with, according to draft European Union regulations. This will force providers of financial products to disclose from the end of 2021 which investments meet climate criteria and can therefore be marketed as “sustainable”. The aim is to steer billions of euros in much-needed private funding into low-carbon projects to help the EU hit ambitious climate goals, and limit so-called greenwashing by stopping the labelling of investments that do not meet the criteria as “green”. (Reuters) 

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