The importance of the work over the past several years of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board in developing industry-specific ESG disclosure recommendations was underscored with the recent letters to company leadership from two of the world’s leading asset management firms.
During your travels, or even going about your usual business and personal activities, do you recall the days when… Pilots remember having to use cockpit instruments when flying over large cities because the “smog” (usually thick yellow) eliminated visibility below. That was caused by belching smokestacks as dirty coal was burned for industrial use or for generating electric power.
Mirror, mirror on the wall – who is the most sustainable company of them all? That memorable line from the Walt Disney Studios’ 1930s classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is being regularly applied now by a widening range of third party players in examining the performance and achievements of U.S., North American and global companies (and applying their methodologies on an ever-widening list of criteria).
Here we are now in a new year, and new decade (the third decade of the 21st Century) and much of the buzz is all about (1) climate change and the dramatic impacts on business, finance, government and we humans around the globe; and (2) many more investors are moving their money to more sustainable investments.
The big news this week for sustainability professionals: The publication of the much-anticipated annual letter to corporate chief executive officers by Larry Fink, Chair and CEO of BlackRock -- the world’s largest asset manager (with almost US7 trillion in Assets Under Management).
It is a favorite pursuit of journalists and commentators at each year-end and the start of the new calendar year to look back and look forward to identify “top stories” and significant trends of the year past. And to look ahead at “what might be” in the new year. We present a few of these musing for you in this first newsletter of the year 2020.
The year 2019 began with an important challenge to corporate leaders from Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock (with more than US$6 trillion in AUM). He writes each year to the CEOs of companies that his firm invests in on behalf of the firm’s clients. There are literally hundreds of publicly-traded companies in the BlackRock portfolio.
There is no doubt now – the world’s largest asset managers are definitely focused on corporate sustainability and sustainable investing (the two go hand-in-hand) as survey after survey is telling us. In recent years we seen considerable momentum as asset owners and their managers adopt or further enhance their sustainable investing / ESG investing approaches. And to gauge the progress we’re seeing major, global asset managers busily take the pulse of the capital market players.
The terms of reference are familiar now to many more institutional owners and their managers (as well as to a growing number of retail investors who are their clients and beneficiaries). This movement began as “socially responsible investing” (“SRI”) which evolved over time to “sustainable & responsible investing” and on to “sustainable & responsible & impact investing” in the 21st Century.
In recent months we’re increasingly hearing and using the simplified term “sustainable investing” and “ESG investing”.
The big news of this week: The USA is now “officially” withdrawing from the Paris Accord on Climate Change. The one-year countdown to “USA out” is now underway.
In 2015 as the representatives of almost all of the nations of the world gathered in Paris, France for “COP 21” (or “the UN Climate Change Forum, the 21st yearly meeting of the Conference of Parties), an important agreement was reached: the 196 nations would work together to attempt to limit global warming to below 2-degrees Celsius (3.5-degrees Fahrenheit) – or at least to not above 1.5C (2.7F).