Top Stories

February 17, 2021


ESG demand prompts more than 250 European funds to change tack

Rising demand for sustainable investment prompted managers to change the strategy or investment profile of 253 European funds in 2020, helping to push regional assets invested in funds with an environmental, social or governance (ESG) tilt to a record €1.1 trillion by the end of December.  According to the data, from financial services firm Morningstar, in addition to the repurposed funds there were 505 new ESG fund launches in Europe over the year. More particularly, sustainable investments in Europe grew by 84% in the last quarter of 2020, accounting for 80% of the $152.3 billion global ESG fund inflows in the same period, with US ESG funds attracting 13.4% of the global total. (Financial Times*)


Another 20 companies join Amazon-backed The Climate Pledge 

Another 20 companies joined ‘The Climate Pledge’, a public commitment launched by Amazon and Jeff Bezos in 2019 to meet the Paris Climate Agreement in 2040, 10 years before the Agreement’s official 2050 goal. One of the new signatories is multinational technology company IBM , which just announced its agenda to hit net zero emissions by 2030. IBM will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by 2025 from a 2010 baseline, use 90% renewable energy-powered electricity by 2030, and use carbon capture or other technologies to remove greenhouse gases equivalent to its “residual emissions”. Other new signatories of the Pledge include: UK retailer Iceland Foods; logistics firm Vanderlande; re-usable drinkware company MiiR; equipment and software producer Johnson Controls; Finnish forest industry company UPM; and organic crops producer Daabon. (CBNC)


Ocado launches a dedicated aisle for B-Corp certified brands 

Online supermarket Ocado has launched a dedicated virtual 'aisle' showcasing products from B-Corp certified brands, as customers increasingly look for more sustainable groceries. The virtual aisle features over 1,100 products from more than 35 brands, including Ella’s Kitchen, Innocent, Method, Charlie Bigham’s, Pip & Nut, Teapigs, PROPER, Alpro, Ben & Jerry’s and Cheeky Panda. The B-Corp standard is one of the most popular as a marker of a purpose-led brand, with certification requiring brands to complete an in-depth assessment with metrics relating to governance, worker treatment, community sustainability and environmental impact, and provide updated information every three years. Ocado claims it now stocks the largest collection of B-Corp certified products of any major British grocery retailer. (Edie)


Family-owned businesses lag on setting ESG priorities

Family-owned businesses are falling behind on setting environmental and social standards, with just over a third having set a sustainability strategy, a report by professional services firm PwC finds. The report, which surveyed 2,801 family business owners from 83 countries, argues that without the investor pressure that listed companies face to conform to environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, family businesses have fallen behind on ESG issues. More than three-quarters of US-based family businesses and 60% of those in Britain did not incorporate ESG matters into their fundamental approach to business. Contrastingly, Asian family businesses far outperformed their American and European peers. Larger family businesses, and those owned by second- or later-generation family members, also showed a greater focus on sustainability. (Reuters)


Singapore government unveils 2021 budget with sustainability focus

Singapore will allocate a sizable part of its 2021 budget to a series of sustainability measures, aiming to help tackle the climate emergency. The Singaporean government will issue green bonds on select public infrastructure projects aimed at sustainable development in the city-state, with up to $19 billion worth of eligible projects already identified. The government also aims to cut transport emissions by increasing the petrol duty, and to incentivise early adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). The country plans to deploy 60,000 EV charging points at public car parks and private premises by 2030, and will set aside S$30 million for EV-related initiatives over the next five years. To continue supporting technology adoption in the agri-food sector, Singapore will also allocate $60 million to a new Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund. (Eco-Business, Channel News Asia)

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2021 Actions for Business