Top Stories

February 23, 2022


AllianzGI to vote against EU companies that omit ESG to pay

German fund manager Allianz Global Investors has announced that it will vote against large UK and European companies it has invested in that fail to link executive pay to environment, social and governance (ESG) metrics from 2023. Allianz, which has €673 billion in assets under management, opposed only 21% of all management proposals globally in 2021, but voted against 47% of those related to remuneration, and 49% in 2020. Professional services company PwC found that almost 60% of UK FTSE 100 companies now link ESG benchmarks to executive pay. AllianzGI joins other companies in scrutinising the link between remuneration and sustainability ambitions, with activist investor group Cevian Capital announcing its intentions in 2021 to vote against companies that failed to include ESG targets in pay packages. (Financial Times)*


London gallery ends BP sponsorship under activist weight

The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced that it is terminating its more than 30-year partnership with oil major BP, in what activists are calling a major victory for the campaign against fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts. The gallery’s annual portrait award, open to artists globally, has been sponsored by the oil company since 1990. But alongside other major cultural institutions in the UK, the Gallery has faced pressure from climate activists to drop fossil fuel funding. The Royal Shakespeare Company previously ended its relationship with BP in 2019. However, the British Museum has so far resisted pressure to follow suit, arguing that amid sustained government cuts to arts financing, corporate sponsorship from the company plays a vital role in keeping exhibitions open. (Financial Times)*


HSBC climate targets criticised for underwriting ‘loopholes’

Financial services company HSBC is facing criticism for its new commitment to curtail financing of oil, gas and power plants, with environmentalists stating the policy contains concerning loopholes. The target of a 34% reduction in financing oil and gas clients on its balance sheet by 2030 is a first for HSBC, which says it is a key interim step towards achieving net-zero financed greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, the policy is facing criticism by environmental group Market Forces which argues that the targets can be met through accounting techniques and selling debt on secondary markets that moves exposure off HSBC’s balance sheet instead of restricting financing for oil and gas. Others have criticised the decision to exclude bond underwriting, which recent research shows to have made up half of all corporate financing to oil and gas since 2016. (Eco-Business)


Almost 15,000 ‘ghost flights’ left UK since pandemic began

Figures provided to the UK government by the Civil Aviation Authority have revealed that 14,472 unnecessary flights departed from the UK since the start of the pandemic. Defined as flights with under 10% passenger capacity, ghost flights operated from 32 airports, with Heathrow at the top of the list recording 4,910 flights between March 2020 and September 2021. There was an average of 760 ghost flights a month over the period, although the data only recorded international departures, not domestic flights. Under current rules, airlines lose landing slots at airports unless they are used 80% of the time. However, the rule was provisionally suspended by the UK government at the time of the studied flights. (The Guardian)


US urged to ban Thai fishing net suppliers using prison labour

A coalition of human rights groups is urging the US government to ban imports of fishing nets from two major Thai suppliers. An investigation from the charitable arm of news conglomerate Thomson Reuters found that inmates at some Thai prisons were being forced to make fishing nets for private companies – including one that exported to the US – under threat of punishment including beatings and delayed release. The labour rights organisation Seafood Working Group has submitted a petition to the US Customs and Border Protection authority, calling for a halt to imports of nets that may have been produced under prison labour. Under the US Tariff Act, goods made using forced or prison labour are barred from entering the country. (Eco-Business)

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