Top Stories

July 27, 2022


Schroders establishes fund to invest in nature-based solutions

Asset manager Schroders has teamed up with non-profit Conservation International to create a Singapore-based fund house to invest in projects that seek to halt and reverse the destruction of nature. Known as Akaria Natural Capital, the fund will initially invest in 15-20 projects across Southeast Asia. Akaria will ultimately manage a series of funds that will finance projects in the region, and will seek a fund management licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Conservation International said reversing nature loss, for example by protecting rainforests and preserving mangroves and other biodiverse areas, could account for 30% of the global action needed to stabilise the climate. The non-profit added that natural capital solutions can deliver alternative benefits, such as filtering fresh water or providing breathable air. (Reuters)


BlackRock pulls back support for climate and social resolutions

Asset manager BlackRock’s support for US shareholder proposals on environmental and social issues fell by nearly half in the 2022 annual meeting season, voting for just 24% of them. The group had warned of this outcome when it argued that shareholder proposals were becoming too prescriptive, and that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had changed the investment calculus. However, commentators point out that BlackRock’s shift has been far more dramatic than most other investors. Total shareholder support for environmental and social proposals dropped from 36% of votes cast in 2021’s meeting season to 27% in 2022. BlackRock’s decline fell from 43% in 2021 to 24% in 2022. Similarly, support for environmental and social proposals from State Street Global Advisors fell from above 25% in 2021 to roughly 20% in 2022. (Financial Times)*


Bosses at City firms to face fines for not prioritising consumers

Senior bosses at City firms could face fines and have their bonuses docked if they fail to put consumer needs first, in one of the biggest overhauls of financial regulation in a decade. Rules being rolled out by the Financial Conduct Authority will force financial firms – including banks, insurers and investment firms – to focus on delivering “good outcomes” for customers, in a move expected to reduce call wait times, end rip-off charges and fees through clearer promotions, and make it easier to cancel or switch investments. The new consumer duty, to come into force from summer 2023, will replace current rules that say firms must “treat customers fairly”. Companies will be expected to produce annual reports outlining how they are putting consumers first and meeting new requirements. (The Guardian)


Facial recognition cameras in retailer challenged by privacy group

Shoppers at a grocery store chain across southern England are being surveilled with facial recognition cameras, prompting a legal complaint by civil rights campaigners. The privacy group Big Brother Watch has submitted a complaint against grocery chain Southern Co-operative’s use of the cameras, claiming it is “unlawful”. According to the complaint, the surveillance system uses novel technology and processes personal data to create a biometric profile of each store visitor. The group said Southern Co-operative had installed the surveillance technology in 35 stores. The system stores images of individuals who have been “identified and evidenced” as an offender, with images being held for a year from the last offence evidenced. Southern Co-op said it would welcome feedback from the information commissioner. (The Guardian)


Long Covid costing UK workers £1.5bn yearly in lost income

Long Covid is costing the UK £1.5 billion in lost earnings annually as the number of people off work with the condition rises to almost 2 million. New research from think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimated that 110,000 people are absent from work at any time due to long Covid, with those on lower incomes before the pandemic more likely to be sufferers. One in 10 long Covid sufferers who were previously in employment stop work while they have the condition. The IFS found that sufferers were more likely to be claiming benefits, be in poverty and live in social housing. The condition causes a range of debilitating symptoms including extreme fatigue and shortness of breath, chest pains, dizziness and heart palpitations. An estimated 8% of sufferers still miss work at least three months after infection. (The Independent)

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