Top Stories

February 15, 2021


ISS updates proxy voting policy against directors who fail to address climate crisis

The world’s largest shareholder advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has changed its proxy voting policy, recommending investors vote against company board members if they fail to address climate change, amid renewed pressure on firms with poor environmental track records. The new guidelines will back a growing number of asset managers such as LGIM, BNP Paribas Asset Management, and Sarasin & Partners, which are already taking actions against company boards over environmental issues. The updated proxy voting policy allows ISS to recommend votes against company directors over “material failures … including, demonstrably poor risk oversight of environmental and social issues, including climate change”. ISS is believed to account for 61% of the proxy advisory market, and casts 10.2 million voting decisions a year for its clients, representing 4.2 trillion shares. (The Guardian)


Bank of America targets net-zero financed emissions and supply chains by 2050

Bank of America has pledged to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2023, and net-zero emissions across its supply chain and financed projects by 2050. The bank plans to focus its plans on engagement, rather than divestment, amidst accusations of its continued financing of high-carbon projects. The firm plans to annually disclose its financed emissions, and will develop science-based targets for high-emitting portfolios. It will also increase its capital allocation to low-carbon energy sectors, such as clean hydrogen and scale up finance for improving water infrastructure. The company will switch to 100% zero-carbon electricity and aim to reduce energy consumption by 55% by 2030. Suppliers will be required to align with Bank of America’s operational targets on water, waste and resources for 2030. (Edie)


Goldman Sachs issues first sustainability bond at $800m

US-based investment bank Goldman Sachs has issued its inaugural sustainability bond, joining other Wall Street banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan in tapping the fast-growing green market. The bond was priced at $800 million, upped by $50 million amid strong investor demand, and is part of Goldman’s efforts to mobilise $750 billion in green finance by 2030. The bond will support businesses and projects driving progress in nine areas, ranging from clean energy and waste management, to accessible healthcare and education. The move comes after the biggest US banks are increasingly issuing sustainable bonds, given mounting pressure on the private sector to address ESG issues. (Bloomberg; Edie)


Michelin rolls out plans for pioneering tyre recycling plant

French tyre giant Michelin and Scandinavian tyre recycler Enviro have unveiled plans to build a pioneering recycling plant in Chile able to recycle tens of thousands of giant construction equipment tyres annually. The joint venture will scale up a cutting-edge technology developed by Enviro that recovers carbon black, oil, steel, and gas from end-of-life tyres. Of the recovered materials, 90% will be reused into rubber-based products like new tyres, conveyor belts, and anti-vibration products, with the remaining 10% used to generate heat and power at the plant. The facility will recycle 30,000 tonnes of construction equipment tyres annually. The joint venture also gives Michelin the right to establish other recycling plants based on Enviro's technology until 2035. (Business Green)


Lloyds Bank and Woodland Trust hit one million tree-planting target

More than one million trees were planted across the UK in 2020 through a partnership between high street bank Lloyds Bank and conservation charity the Woodland Trust. These trees could store 250,000 tonnes of carbon over their lifetime, improve the air in towns and cities, and reconnect the UK’s fragmented landscapes. The feat marks the first step in the partnership’s ambition to plant 10 million trees by 2030, and the charity’s goal of planting 50 million trees over five years. Through the 10-year partnership, both entities will work to engage communities in forest conservation through a scheme encouraging people to plant trees in schools and parks, and through funding for farmers who plant 0.5 hectares of new woodland or more. (Business Green)


2021 Actions for Business