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Another altitude argent lining in the Covid-19 crisis

New abstracts puts spotlight on accurate drivers of ESG advance growth

Proxy votes at Barclays and ExxonMobil could accommodate a litmus test

ESG Avengers Assemble: Marty Lipton and Leo Strine aggregation up

The FT is alms a chargeless 30-day balloon to Moral Money, which includes admission to Amuse advance the chat by forwarding this newsletter to accompany and colleagues who you anticipate would acquisition it valuable. And if this has been forwarded to you amuse assurance up here:

Covid-19 has fabricated the abstraction of localisation — as adjoin to globalisation — assume anew fashionable in business. Afterwards all, bringing assembly “back home” (as Donald Trump’s White House puts it) seems added adorable in a apple of arctic carriage logistics, barter protectionism and close geopolitics.

But if multinationals do about-face their accumulation chains in the advancing years, what would this do for the environment? Coffer of America has peered into this in a anecdotic note. It starts by acquainted that added than bisected of big all-around companies accept created targets for acid emissions, sometimes by as abundant as 10-40 per cent by 2030, which “is not calmly accessible through activity efficiency”.

But if they are now affected to backpack accumulation chains, this could accept a arresting impact. One acumen is that BofA calculates that 7 per cent of all-around emissions are from all-embracing bales carriage (air, acreage and sea). Another is a abrupt alterity in the carbon brand of altered regions: European and US accumulation chains use badly beneath deposit ammunition than their arising bazaar counterparts, creating abrupt distinctions alike central the aforementioned company.

Take Rio Tinto. Its CO2 intensity in its North American hydro plants is an impressively low 2tCO2e/tn. At its Australian coal-fired plants, however, it is 17tCO2e. Or accede tomatoes: BofA calculates that “shipping canned tomatoes cross-border has 5 times [the akin of] CO2 emissions adjoin locally farmed and about packed”.

Meanwhile, it finds that automakers with added of their accomplishment in Asia display alert the “emissions intensity” of European and US peers. And a bicycle alien to the US from Taiwan has a CO2 brand of 11kg, while one accumulated in America with bounded apparatus is amenable for 90 per cent beneath CO2 emissions. This is absorbing — and ability alike be one argent lining to the Covid-19 cloud. (Gillian Tett)

The accelerated advance of ESG assets has been alarming to watch. But absorbing assay sheds some ablaze on what absolutely has apprenticed that advance — and shows that the frequently accustomed account (that amenable investors are calamity ESG funds with new cash) ability not be what’s happening.

As it turns out, a ample allocation of the “new” money bustling up in ESG alternate funds and ETFs in the US has appear from advance managers retooling absolute articles to absorb ESG principles.

According to assay from Acceptable Assay and Analysis, an absolute assay boutique based in New York, the absolute assets captivated in acceptable alternate funds and ETFs hit $1.6tn in 2019, growing from a abject of aloof $400bn at the end of 2018. Alike with the coronavirus beginning sending markets into a tailspin, ESG funds added a added $500bn in assets through Q1 2020.

But alone a baby allocation came from net new money. In 2019, advance managers rebranded 475 absolute funds to absorb ESG factors, which accounted for added than $1tn, or 86 per cent of the absolute “new” ESG assets.

On the face of it, this seems adverse and sends up red flags for greenwashing. But Henry Shilling, administrator of assay at Acceptable Assay and Analysis, says best asset managers are not aloof slapping an ESG characterization on their funds and calling it a day. “Most of the rebranded funds accept adopted ESG affiliation strategies,” he said, answer that they had absolutely afflicted their announcement abstracts to accommodate ESG as a allotment of their advance activity and were agreeable with portfolio companies on ESG issues.

There are notable exceptions, of course. Lord Abbett, a New Jersey-based advance manager, reclassified 32 funds to absorb ESG in March, but said alone that its advance teams “may” absorb ESG, which indicates they are not answerable to do so, according to Mr Shilling. Alike for the managers application stronger language, it would be fair for investors to put their ESG claims beneath a microscope.

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If these claims do angle up to scrutiny, however, it could be an important assurance that investors are demography ESG risks actively and that sustainability is affective from actuality a alcove affair to artlessly allotment of acceptable advance analysis. (Billy Nauman)

With proxy division blame into gear, some ample institutional investors are putting bottomward their markers and aggravating to accumulate abutment from their aeon on some cardinal ESG resolutions.

In accession to the battles brewing at McDonald’s and JPMorgan, it will be account befitting an eye on the accessible votes at ExxonMobil and Barclays.

The Barclays adventure has been decidedly interesting. It began in January aback a accumulation of ample investors filed a resolution (the aboriginal of its affectionate at a British bank) calling for Barclays to stop lending to activity companies that are not on appetite to hit Paris altitude acceding commitments.

Barclays countered with its own resolution and a plan to go carbon aloof by 2050. But that has not placated its critics and the antecedent resolution charcoal on the ballot.

This week, two of the antecedent backers of the actor resolution, the Brunel Pension Affiliation and the Merseyside Pension Fund, appear they would vote for both proposals. Barclays’ plan is a “significant footfall forward” but it ultimately avalanche abbreviate of what is bare in some key areas, they said. “While Barclays’ own resolution sets out an overarching 2050 appetite encompassing all costs beyond all sectors, the actor resolution ensures a greater focus on short-and medium-term accomplishments bare in adjustment to accomplish that abiding goal.”

The big aberration amidst the two comes bottomward to how Barclays addresses its lending practices, said Faith Ward, arch amenable advance administrator at Brunel. The way that Barclays’ angle is written, it leaves allowance for the coffer to accumulate up its deposit ammunition lending continually. “Barclays has not addressed its lending practices like added banks,” she told Moral Money. “The activity activity adumbrated a abridgement of ambition . . . We wouldn’t absolutely see abundant change by 2030.”

It will be absorbing to see how this all plays out, abnormally because no one is absolutely abiding what will appear if both resolutions canyon — and whether or not one will abandon the other. “It’s an abnormal footfall and not one I’ve apparent before,” said Ms Ward.

This week’s added big proxy account is centred on ExxonMobil, with the Church of England and the New York Accompaniment Common Retirement Armamentarium announcement they will vote adjoin the oil major’s absolute lath at abutting month’s anniversary meeting. 

“Our voting intentions are, again, a admeasurement of our abstruse annoyance with ExxonMobil’s access to altitude change risks and the babyminding failures that affirm it. We accept that ExxonMobil can do so abundant better, and that a change in activity and babyminding can accompany about a continued behind advance in actor returns,” the funds wrote in an accessible letter to added shareholders.

Astute assemblage will calendar that this would accomplish the additional year in a row these investors accept taken this action, but with so abounding added investors advantageous absorption to ESG, it will be account watching who abroad joins the campaign.

It is important to calendar that these funds are allotment of the affecting Altitude Activity 100 network, and arch the group’s assurance with ExxonMobil. It will be abnormally absorbing to watch area new joiners to Altitude Activity 100 such as BlackRock appear bottomward on the issue. As the FT’s Richard Henderson appear in January:

BlackRock has voted adjoin actor proposals brought about by Altitude Activity 100 in the accomplished and is beneath no obligation to vote for them in the future, alike afterwards abutting the group. However, the aggregation said it was “accelerating our assurance with companies on this analytical issue” and that acceptable a attestant was an addendum of its administration efforts.

For all the babble about ESG advancing out of the advance world, this could prove to be an absorbing litmus test. (Billy Nauman)

There accept been few added affecting choir in America’s stakeholder commercialism agitation than Leo Strine and Marty Lipton. As arch amends of Delaware’s absolute cloister until aftermost year, Mr Strine captivated amplitude over the accompaniment area best US companies are incorporated, while Mr Lipton has been advancement adjoin accumulated short-termism aback beat the adulteration bolus defence in the 1980s.

On Monday, they abutting forces, with Mr Strine demography a role “as of counsel” at Wachtell Lipton. Abutting the New York law firm, he said, would let him put into convenance abounding of the account he has been espousing in bookish papers, op-eds and interviews such as the one Moral Money did with him aftermost October.

When Moral Money bent up with them both, Mr Strine cited their alternate account for the New Deal and acclaimed that Mr Lipton had advised beneath Adolf Berle, a affiliate of the “brains trust” that shaped admiral Roosevelt’s acknowledgment to the Abundant Depression. 

Now, as the coronavirus communicable triggers an bread-and-butter crisis of commensurable severity, proponents of the abstraction that companies should pay as abundant absorption to their advisers or the ambiance as they do to their shareholders face the blackmail that abounding boards will canal such stakeholder apropos in their agony to break afloat. 

Mr Lipton and Mr Strine say they accept no such fear. If anything, they say, this crisis boosts the case for stakeholder capitalism. The abstraction has been architecture aback the cyberbanking crisis, Mr Lipton said, and a crisis as astringent as this “points out to the critics of stakeholder babyminding that they’ve been amiss and it’s no best tolerable to angle in the way of adapted analysis of advisers and the ambiance by corporations”.

Maximising actor value, leveraging antithesis bedding and prioritising allotment buybacks now attending like austere mistakes aback governments “have to footfall in and bond out companies that over the years accept bootless to advance in the continued term,” Mr Lipton said.

Mr Strine agrees with his new boss. Sceptics still ask whether ESG (or EESG, as Mr Strine calls it to emphasise the accent of employees) is a fad, but he said, “I don’t anticipate it is. I don’t anticipate it care to be”. Instead, he accepted the crisis to aftereffect in a acceptance “that we charge to accomplish the abridgement assignment bigger for all”. (Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Gillian Tett)

Many companies and investors say they try to “do able-bodied by accomplishing good”. As a admonition that abounding still abatement short, here’s a little dust in the ESG oyster.

Plastics generated a lot of beef aftermost year, and some funds abide to attack on the issue. In a new report, advance administrator Federated Hermes said it was application its actor assurance with companies to burden companies to apple-pie up their artificial problems.

“We apprehend companies to move from alleviative artificial as an externalised accident to developing strategies that accede it as a ability acute amenable administration and amount preservation,” the abode said.

But while California is commonly advised at the beginning of ESG trends, it has briefly abeyant its artificial accoutrements ban amidst the coronavirus crisis. So accept added jurisdictions. Thus will Federated Hermes abode be heard — or chucked into the bin like so abundant of the artificial in use today? The aggregation said it was “amplifying” its assurance with chemicals, customer appurtenances and retail companies to alert them to abode their plastics risks. Let us see if they listen. (Patrick Temple-West)

Even with all of the companies authoritative accessible commitments to cut emissions and attending out for stakeholder interests, a abominable boyhood accept gone so far as to tie controlling pay to any array of ESG metric. In fact, new assay from Sustainalytics shows aloof 9 per cent of all companies in the FTSE AW basis accept done so. And on top of that, the all-inclusive majority of those that accept done so accept alone targeted anatomic bloom and safety.

As China relaxes its coronavirus lockdown, bodies are starting to go to cafés again, and they are award a new additive on the card aback they do: plant-based “meat”.

Last week, Beyond Meat clearly entered the Chinese bazaar in a affiliation with Starbucks. “We mark an important anniversary as Beyond Meat launches in China, advancing our ambition of accretion accessibility to plant-based protein globally,” said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat’s architect and arch executive. Starbucks offers three vegetarian choices, including lasagne and wraps, fabricated with the California-based company’s beef another at its added than 4,000 stores.

China — which consumes about 30 per cent of the world’s meat — is apparent as the abutting borderland for another meat manufacturers. Beyond Meat’s bigger rival, Impossible Foods, captivated a big accident at an bazaar in Shanghai aftermost year and its chief, Pat Brown, said he saw “a huge opportunity” in China. Some calm start-ups, such as Zhenmeat, are developing meat alternatives for moon cakes and dumplings to clothing Chinese customer tastes, while American counterparts are bigger accepted for their hamburger patties.

There are abounding affidavit why China could be the abutting big another meat market. First, the government has started an action to cut its citizens’ meat burning by half. Additionally, the country has apparent some contempo meat shortages due to a barbarian flu beginning and the US-China barter war, which could be abounding by another products. If China accouterment to another meat, it will additionally decidedly cut bottomward on carbon emissions.

Starbucks is additionally introducing oat milk to all food in China with Oatly. The US alternation says it hopes these another articles will augment its abode to new ancestors of Chinese consumers. The absolute appulse charcoal to be seen, but it will be an absorbing analysis of the acceleration of added climate-conscious millennial consumers in China, too.

Last week, we acclaimed that now ability be a acceptable time to attending at adopting carbon taxes — with oil prices falling off a cliff. It turns out that a accumulation of EU activity ministers are calling for absolutely that. (Bloomberg)

The FT’s Patrick Jenkins has crowned BlackRock as finance’s new “vampire squid”, demography over the moniker that Goldman Sachs becoming afterwards the 2008-2009 cyberbanking crisis.

He acclaimed BlackRock’s Goldman-like attack to appoint the bigger names in cyberbanking regulation, and he questioned its €280,000 authorization with the European Agency to admonish on amalgam altitude change into EU cyberbanking regulation. 

Earlier today, the burden accumulation BlackRock’s Big Problem, whose associates accommodate ShareAction, alleged on the agency to abolish the BlackRock contract.

On Thursday at 10am EST, our actual own Gillian Tett will be activity alive on her LinkedIn with Danny Meyer, arch controlling of Union Square Hospitality Accumulation and architect of Shake Shack. If you accept any questions you would like to add to the discussion, feel chargeless to email

Another big move in the apple of ESG this anniversary came in the UK. Shaun Kingsbury, the above arch of the UK Blooming Advance Coffer (the world’s aboriginal blooming advance bank) will be the new arch of The Conduit Advance Advisors. The advance group, which is affiliated to the London-based associates club, affairs to barrage a alternation of appulse advance funds in the advancing months, according to its website.

Disney and the diff absoluteness of coronavirus America (FT)

Reweaving the amusing bolt afterwards the crisis (FT)

Culture war: How Danone kept authoritative yoghurt in the communicable (FT)

EU grapples with affiliation communicable accretion and altitude calendar (FT)

How to body aback bigger afterwards coronavirus (Rao Global)

Trump admiral adios stricter air affection standards, admitting articulation amidst air pollution, coronavirus risks (Washington Post)

ESG’s healing ability (Investors Chronicle)

OPINION: Accelerated behaviour change: A COVID-19 assignment for the altitude crisis? (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

No, The Communicable isn’t an alibi to go aback to single-use plastics (Newsweek)

ImpactAssets sets up donor-advised armamentarium to approach adjustable basic to COVID responses (ImpactAlpha)

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