Top Stories

December 03, 2020

Sustainable Investment 

BlackRock debuts software that assesses climate risk for investors

Investment giant BlackRock has unveiled new software to help investors quantify climate risk and low-carbon opportunities relating to their portfolios. Called Aladdin Climate, the software has functions for measuring both physical and transition risks for whole portfolios. It is also able to measure the impact of likely and potential policy changes and technology advancements on specific investments. BlackRock has worked with data providers Sustainalytics and Refinitiv to develop the software and claims it offers more than 1,200 key performance indicators relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics. The climate-related functions will be made available to BlackRock’s existing Aladdin clients in the first instance, with a wider rollout completed by the end of 2021. (edie) 

Digital Ethics 

Twitter expands hate speech rules to include race, ethnicity

Twitter has announced an expansion to its policy barring hateful speech to include language that dehumanizes people on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin”. The company banned speech that dehumanizes others based on religion or race last year and updated the rule in March to add age, disability and disease to the list of protected categories. Civil rights group Color of Change, part of a coalition of advocacy organizations that have been pushing tech companies to reduce hate speech online, called the changes essential concessions” following years of outside pressure. A Twitter spokeswoman said the company had planned from the start to add new categories to the policy over time after testing to ensure it can consistently enforce updated rules. (CNBC) 

Human Rights  

U.S. Supreme Court justices question human rights claims against Nestle and Cargill

U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared wary of barring lawsuits against American companies over alleged human rights abuses abroad but signalled they could toss out a case accusing Cargill and a Nestle subsidiary of knowingly helping to perpetuate slavery at Ivory Coast cocoa farms. The two companies are asking the nine justices to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed the lawsuit, filed in 2005 on behalf of former child slaves from Mali who worked at the farms, to proceed. Some justices questioned whether the lawsuit actually made clear that company officials knew that the farms involved used child slavery. (Reuters) 

Climate Change 

World is ‘doubling down’ on fossil fuels despite climate crisis – UN report

The world’s governments are “doubling down” on fossil fuels despite the urgent need for cuts in carbon emissions to tackle the climate crisis, a report by the UN and partners has found. The researchers say production of coal, oil and gas must fall by 6 percent a year until 2030 to keep global heating under the 1.5C target agreed in the Paris accord and avoid “severe climate disruption”. But nations are planning production increases of 2 percent a year and G20 countries are giving 50 percent more coronavirus recovery funding to fossil fuels than to clean energy. The challenge of deliberately cutting fossil fuel production every year by similar amounts to that forced by a global pandemic lockdown is large. But a managed wind-down can help repair the global economic damage by creating many new clean energy jobs, the researchers say. (The Guardian) 

Sustainable Investment 

Asset management industry’s responsible investment claims do not match its voting record

The world’s largest asset managers are failing to vote for sustainable progress in investee companies, despite public commitments to the contrary. Only 15 out of 102 shareholder resolutions on climate and social issues received majority support from asset managers over the past year, according to research from ShareAction, which analysed the voting decisions of 60 of the world’s largest asset managers from September 2019 to August 2020. BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) have been termed “crucial laggards”, with the first two houses supporting fewer than 15% of climate and social resolutions analysed. The study found that had just one of these three managers changed its vote, a further 17 resolutions would have passed the 50% threshold. (Investment Week)