Top Stories

March 29, 2021


BlackRock and dozens of big-name investors join Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative

The ‘Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative’, which commits members to reaching net-zero financed emissions by 2050 or sooner, announced that it now has more than 70 members, collectively representing $32 trillion of assets under management. New members include Aviva, Allianz, BlackRock, Macquarie, Standard Life Aberdeen and the Vanguard Group. The initiative, launched in December last year, requires members to set interim science-based targets for 2030 or sooner, that should be met using direct emissions reductions rather than offsetting where possible. Members should also disclose climate risks in line with the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations and develop credible plans for minimising risks in the long-term. The initiative aims to deliver a standard level of ambition and delivery pathway across the wider sector. (Edie)


US President invites 40 world leaders to virtual climate crisis summit

The President of the USA, Joe Biden, has invited 40 world leaders to a virtual summit on the climate crisis, including the heads of state of China and Russia. The leaders will attend the two-day meeting on Earth Day to mark Washington’s return to the “front lines” of the fight against climate change, after Trump disengaged from the process. By the time of the summit, the US will have announced an its 2030 emissions target, and will encourage others to boost their own goals under the Paris agreement. The summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good-paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts. The summit will come ahead of the major UN-backed COP26 meeting on the crisis, happening in November. (The Guardian)


Asda to compensate workers after UK Supreme Court backs equal pay demands

Shop floor workers at British grocery major Asda Group won a key court ruling in their fight for equal pay which could reverberate across Britain’s retail industry, ultimately forcing employers to hand out billions in back-pay. The UK’s Supreme Court ruled that work done by shop workers in Asda grocery stores, most of whom are women, can be equated to the work done by mostly male workers, in warehouses and distribution centres, who on average earn £1.50-£3.00 more per hour. The ruling means that over 44,000 people may eventually be eligible to receive £9,900 in back-pay, each. Other retailers facing similar claims, including Morrisons, Co-Op and Tesco, could ultimately have to compensate workers with $11 billion payments. (Forbes)


MUFG and Sumitomo face climate votes at AGMs as activism grows in Japan

Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’ biggest bank, and Sumitomo, one of the country’s largest trading houses, are being targeted with climate resolutions from activist shareholders at their 2021 annual shareholder meetings. A shareholder proposal submitted to Mitsubishi UFJ by NGOs Kiko Network and Rainforest Action Network called on the bank to outline how it will align investment and financing to the Paris goals. Meanwhile, the proposal sent to Sumitomo by the non-profit Market Forces urged the company to adopt and disclose a business strategy to align itself with the Paris goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5◦C. Once a rarity, shareholder votes on environmental issues have become increasingly common, and have helped to force corporate and financial change in the United States and Europe. (Reuters)


EU experts to say nuclear power qualifies for green investment label

Experts tasked with assessing whether the European Union should label nuclear power as a green investment have concluded the fuel qualifies as sustainable. According to an analysis by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) , the EC’s scientific arm, no science-based evidence was found that nuclear energy harms human health or the environment any more than other electricity production technologies. The report also argues the storage of nuclear waste in deep geologic formations is “appropriate and safe”. The EU is attempting to finish its sustainable finance taxonomy, which will decide which economic activities can be labelled as a “sustainable investment” in the EU, based on whether they meet certain environmental criteria. Two expert committees will scrutinise the JRC’s findings for three months, before the Commission takes a final decision. (Reuters)


2021 Actions for Business