CBRE Names Helen Gurfel New Head of Sustainability and Innovation

Global real asset investment management firm CBRE Global Investors announced today the appointment of Helen Gurfel to the newly created role of Head of Global Sustainability and Innovation.

The appointment follows the launch earlier this year of CBRE’s Sustainability Vision, outlining the firm’s sustainability goals and strategies, across a broad range of ESG factors, and including an aspiration by the company to achieve net-zero carbon by 2040 for its directly managed, long-term core investments.

In her new role, Gurfel will be key in helping CBRE achieve its Sustainability Vision, and ensuring the firm maintains a leading sustainability strategy. Gurfel will collaborate with teams across the global business on a wide spectrum of sustainability and innovation-related matters, including product architecture, capital-raising, and asset-level strategies and solutions.

Chuck Leitner, CEO of CBRE Global Investors, said:

“We are thrilled to welcome Helen as Head of Global Sustainability and Innovation. She is an authority in this space and brings a deep understanding of our strategic ambition to be a market leader in innovative and sustainable real assets investment solutions.”

Gurfel has over 25 years of experience in the industry and a track record in developing ESG and venture investment strategies. She joins CBRE from Lennar Corporation’s venture Group LENX, where she served as Managing Director, where she was involved with the development of the firm’s venture capital investment strategy. Gurfel also served as Executive Director at Urban Land Institute Greenprint Center for Building Performance and as a Director at GE Capital’s Real Estate Global Sustainability Group.

Leitner, added:

“As the world emerges from a period of immense uncertainty, it is our mission to help our clients and our users make sense of this change. With professionals of Helen’s caliber within the team, we are increasingly well-positioned to optimize the vast opportunities within the real assets sector, with purpose and alpha in equal measure.”

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Mercedes-Benz to Invest €40 Billion Through 2030 in Move to go All Electric

Automaker Mercedes-Benz announced plans today to electrify its automotive fleet, including a goal to be ready to go all electric by 2030, where market conditions allow. The company’s strategy includes investment plans of more €40 billion through 2030, with spending in key areas across R&D, battery capacity, charging networks, production and manufacturing, and workforce.

Mercedes-Benz projects company margins in a battery electric vehicle (BEV) world to be similar to those in the internal combustion engine (ICE) era.

Today’s announcement forms part of an emerging trend among automakers to ramping investments to accelerate the shift to EVs. Last month, General Motors announced plans to significantly boost spending on EV and AV investments to $35 billion through 2025, and earlier this year, Ford pledged to nearly double its investment in EVs to at least $22 billion by 2025.

Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, said:

“The EV shift is picking up speed – especially in the luxury segment, where Mercedes-Benz belongs. The tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade.”

Key to the company’s new strategy are plans for all newly launched architectures launched from 2025 onward to be electric only, and for customers to be able to choose electric versions for every model the company makes. The company stated that it will offer a fully electric model in every segment by 2022, and plans to introduce three new electric architectures in 2025, encompassing medium and large passenger cars, performance vehicles, and vans and light commercial vehicles.

The carmaker unveiled comprehensive roadmap for its electric lineup strategy, highlighting a Technology plan, Production plan, People Plan and a Financial Plan.

Mercedes Benz’s electrification roadmap includes plans encompassing technology, production, people and financial aspects of the business. Technology measures include continued vertical integration, such as the recently announced acquisition of UK-based electric motor company YASA, as well as plans to set up several new gigafactories for additional battery capacity, and partnerships to build out of tens of thousands of charging points across Europe, China and North America.

Mercedes-Benz’s strategy also includes a significant workforce transformation, including extensive re-skilling schemes, early retirement as well as buyouts.

Källenius, added:

“This step marks a profound reallocation of capital. By managing this faster transformation while safeguarding our profitability targets, we will ensure the enduring success of Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to our highly qualified and motivated workforce, I am convinced that we will be successful in this exciting new era.”

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John Hancock Launches Fund Targeting Environmental Impact and Opportunities

John Hancock Investment Management announced today the launch of the John Hancock Global Environmental Opportunities Fund, a new thematic fund aiming to invest in companies generating a positive impact and benefiting from opportunities arising from the trends towards environmental sustainability.

The new fund will be subadvised by Pictet Asset Management, using an investment process that identifies companies operating within ‘Planetary Boundaries,’ aligned with a series of environmental sustainability categories including climate change, ocean acidification, and biodiversity, among several others. The companies are then further screened to identify those contributing positively to the environment.

Key focus areas for investment include companies focused on water technologies, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable forestry, organic agriculture, pollution control, waste management and recycling, or other involved in resource efficiency or enhanced environmental quality.

Andrew G. Arnott, CEO, John Hancock Investment Management and head of wealth and asset management, Manulife Investment Management, United States and Europe, said:

“Investors have become increasingly more aware of the environmental trends that will shape future business models across industries—in particular, companies operating in services, infrastructure, technology, and resources related to environmental sustainability. The fund provides access to these opportunities from Pictet—a manager that has been focused on delivering risk-adjusted returns through its thematic franchise for more than 25 years.”

The fund will be managed by Pictet Senior Investment Managers Luciano Diana and Gabriel Micheli, and Investment Manager Yi Du, supported by Pictet’s thematic equities team.

Diana said:

“Investors are uniquely positioned to impact environmental change. In parallel, we believe companies with products and services that maximize resource efficiency and help diminish pollution have the ability to outperform the broader market over the long term.”

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ASI Launches Funds Targeting Climate Solutions and Opportunities

Global asset manager Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) announced today the launch of the ASI Climate range, a new suite of climate-focused funds, targeting investments in companies leading on emissions reductions, supporting the shift to a low carbon economy, and benefiting from opportunities generated by the energy transition.

The range consists of 3 SFDR article 9 compliant funds including equity, bond, and multi-asset offering.

The Aberdeen Standard SICAV I – Global Climate and Environment Equity Fund invests in companies that offer sustainable solutions to the most carbon-intensive sectors of the economy through a thematic framework in combination with fundamental analysis.

The Aberdeen Standard SICAV I – Climate Transition Bond Fund invests in the leading emissions reducers and in companies with credible transition plans from high emission sectors, as well as projects that tackle the physical impact of climate change and decarbonization-focused solutions providers.

The Aberdeen Standard SICAV II – Multi-Asset Climate Opportunities Fund invests in climate solutions across sectors including clean energy, electric vehicles, and smart working technologies through equities, bonds, and renewable infrastructure.

Eva Cairns, Head of Climate Change Strategy, Aberdeen Standard Investments, said:

“Climate change is one of the largest threats of our time and impacts not only future generations, but also many countries and companies around the globe today. Tackling it requires trillions of dollars of investment every year to transform our world into one that emits net zero greenhouse gases. This transformation comes with significant opportunities for investors. To have real world impact, we need to look to the future and invest in the solution providers and companies that will help make this transition to net zero happen.”

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LG Targets Full Transition to Renewable Energy

Consumer electronics giant LG Electronics announced today a commitment to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, forming the next step in the company’s sustainability strategy.

LG stated that its energy transition will begin in North America, with plans to power every office and manufacturing site in the region with renewable energy by the end of this year. Within four years, it aims to have all manufacturing facilities outside of Korea converted to 50% renewable electricity.

The company outlined several initiatives it will pursue in order to meet its new goals, including the installation of high-efficiency LG solar panels on its buildings, the utilization of power purchase agreements to buy directly from suppliers, the usage of Renewable Energy Credit Certificates, and the participation in the Green Premium program to buy clean energy from Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

Park Pyung-gu, senior vice president at LG Electronics Safety & Environment Division, said:

“Our commitment to creating a better life for all can best be actualized by LG transition to renewable energy and achieving carbon neutrality. In today’s world, innovation doesn’t just happen in the lab, they must also happen in our factories and plants. Today’s manufacturers have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give the next generation a world worth inheriting and at LG, we take this responsibility very seriously.”

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