Fineco Expands ESG Investment Offerings with Addition of AXA IM Funds on its Platform

FinTech bank Fineco announced that funds from AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) have been made available on its investing platform, in a move the company says will further strengthen its ESG offering for customers.

AXA IM, part of AXA Group, is a responsible asset manager, with ESG integrated into more than 90% of its core assets  across equity, fixed income and multi-asset. The company is a leading investor in green, social and sustainable markets, managing €555 billion of ESG-integrated, sustainable and impact assets.

According to Fineco, the addition of AXA IM funds to its platform will provide its growing customer base in the United Kingdom with greater access to a range of sustainable investing products. Fineco has recently added several sustainability focused funds to its platform, from companies including NinetyOne, Candriam, and Robeco.

Paolo Di Grazia, Deputy General Manager, Fineco, said:

“Responsible investing is becoming increasingly important to our customers, and this is why it is so important that we continue to partner with asset managers that are committed to driving environmental and social change through their investments. We know that the introduction of AXA IM will be highly welcomed by our customers, especially with the added benefit of Fineco’s competitive and transparent prices.”

John Stainsby, Head of Core Client Group UK, AXA Investment Managers, added:

“We are delighted to offer funds from our UK range to Fineco’s customer base, so they can tap into 20 years of our responsible investing experience. Half of all new funds launched in the UK now have some form of ESG built into the investment process. ESG is no longer an industry trend, it is the new normal, and a basic requirement for a growing number of investors.”

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Rockefeller Foundation, PIDG, Invest in Emerging Market Impact Investor Acre Impact Capital

Impact-focused investment manager Acre Impact Capital announced the closing of a capital investment from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). According to the company, the catalytic investment will enable Acre to accelerate its strategic growth and support the launch of a number of private debt impact funds.

Founded in 2019, Acre invests in growth-stage, climate-aligned infrastructure in emerging markets by partnering and co-investing with leading commercial lenders and export credit agencies. The firm provides underserved communities in Africa access to essential services, through its investments in infrastructure sectors such as healthcare, education, social housing, transport, renewable power, agriculture, water and sanitation, waste management, climate adaptation, and technology/digital infrastructure.

Hussein Sefian, Founding Partner at Acre Impact Capital, said:

“We are thrilled to enter into a long-term partnership with aligned investors such as The Rockefeller Foundation and PIDG to advance Acre Impact Capital’s mission to provide access to essential services to underserved communities and contribute to reducing the infrastructure financing gap in Africa, which is estimated to be over $100 billion every year. Our funds invest in a commercial loan tranche of approximately 15% of each transaction, which needs to be in place before an ECA can provide a guarantee on the remaining 85% of the debt. Lack of bank funding on this commercial tranche – which has worsened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – prevents the completion of many otherwise bankable transactions.”

According to Acre, investing alongside well-established export credit agency partners mobilizes up to 5.6x private sector capital for every dollar invested, while minimizing the risks often associated with developing infrastructure in emerging markets.

Maria Kozloski, Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation, said:

“We are excited about the potential of Acre Impact Capital high impact and innovative strategy, which leverages the ECA market to mobilise largescale capital and address the huge financing gap for emerging market infrastructure.”

Emilio Cattaneo, Director at PIDG Technical Assistance, added:

“We are delighted to have been associated with the Acre Impact Capital project since its inception and to have supported the team in the development of such an innovative concept together with our friends at The Rockefeller Foundation. Through the use of PIDG Technical Assistance funding, we are proud to have been able to contribute to the initial capital required to enable Acre Impact Capital to be launched which demonstrates the power of strong partnerships and collaboration in delivering sustainable infrastructure in the countries where we can make a real difference.”

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Global Accounting Organization IFAC Promotes Investor & Stakeholder Focused Sustainability Reporting

Supports Sustainability Standards Board Under IFRS

Adding momentum to the movement towards global sustainability corporate reporting standards, global accountancy profession organization the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) announced today the publication of its roadmap for delivering a global system for sustainability reporting.

IFAC’s recommendations come as the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS) is exploring the development global sustainability standards for company reporting, and the establishment of an IFRS Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). Earlier this week, the IFRS launched a proposal to amend its constitution to encompass the development of sustainability standards within its objectives. IFAC stated that it supports a new standard-setting board under the IFRS Foundation that can lead to the coordination and harmonization of reporting and provide a baseline of requirements addressing sustainability information that is material to enterprise value.

The IFAC roadmap promotes reporting that focuses both on investors as well as on companies’ broader stakeholder impact, through a “building blocks” approach targeting each group. The investor focused aspect includes identifying sustainability factors that are material to short-, medium-, and long-term enterprise value, including qualitative information about governance, strategy and risk management. Investor-focused reporting would revolve around standards set by an IFRS Sustainability Standards Board.

Multi-stakeholder reporting aims to capture the impacts of the company on the broader economy, environment, and people other than investors. Standards in this area could include those from sustainability reporting initiatives such as GRI.

IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey said:

“As the IFRS Foundation continues to consider establishing a new International Sustainability Standards Board and as jurisdiction-specific initiatives progress, IFAC is lending its voice to clarify how components can best fit together to meet the needs of all stakeholders. The IFRS initiative—as well as jurisdiction-specific initiatives—should build on what already exists, help create or contribute to a global system, and accommodate  different views of what information stakeholders require. The building blocks approach makes this possible.”

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Pressure Builds on Exxon as $2.5 Trillion Investor Group Targets Company on Climate, Governance

The Coalition United for a Responsible Exxon (CURE), a group consisting of 135 institutional and private investors representing AUM of more than $2.5 trillion, announced the publication of a paper highlighting a series of sustainability-related issues at energy giant ExxonMobil, and recommendations for the company to follow to improve its ESG profile. The paper focuses primarily on governance and climate issues, and urges Exxon to establish a Paris Agreement-aligned energy transition plan.

Today’s announcement comes as Exxon faces increasing shareholder pressure on a range of ESG issues. Last week, ESG Today reported that several major pension funds, including CalPERS, CalSTRS and the New York State Common Retirement Fund, announced their support for a new slate of directors at Exxon, with lack of action on energy transition cited as a key issue driving the initiative.

According to the CURE paper, poor high level oversight at the company have led to deteriorating financial performance, as Exxon’s board has sanctioned high cost, low return investments, and acquisitions that significantly diluted its return on capital,

CURE’s letter makes a series of governance-related recommendations for the company, including splitting the CEO and Board Chair positions, broadening board and management expertise by appointing multiple new directors and senior executives with energy and climate experience, and aligning CEO and executive compensation more directly with total shareholder return and GHG reduction performance metrics.

On the climate front, the group urges Exxon to set an enterprise-wide net zero by 2050 goal, including short- and medium-term targets and a detailed decarbonization strategy. Additionally, CURE advocates for a Paris-aligned climate lobbying position, disclosure of scenario analysis including carbon price assumptions and asset-level detail, and for the company to provide regular updates on its compliance with climate targets.

The group stated that at Exxon’s upcoming AGM, members will vote in favor of proposals for an independent Chairman, and for reporting on scenario analysis and climate lobbying.

Josh Zinner, Executive Director of Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and a member of CURE, said:

“Once the largest public company in the world, Exxon’s current market capitalization is half the size of its peak in 2007. As investors committed to energy transition, we can no longer stand by idly watching Exxon continue on its current path of seemingly reckless value destruction. CURE’s 135 members recognize that change is desperately needed at Exxon and applaud our fellow shareholders who are campaigning for meaningful progress. We believe that bold changes in governance and strategy are necessary to steer the company into the sustainable, decarbonized economy we need for the future.”

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Manulife Sets Net Zero Target, Adds Climate Considerations to Exec Performance Goals

Toronto-based global financial services provider Manulife announced today a series of commitments aimed at achieving a net zero transition, encompassing the company’s operations and investments as well as its products and services. Manulife stated that it has committed to the Science Based Targets initiative to guide the Company’s target setting, measurement, and progress reporting.

Manulife also announced today that it will update the sustainability aspects of its senior executive performance goals, adding the company’s climate goals to its current considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion, employee engagement, and leadership accountability.

Roy Gori, President and CEO, Manulife, said:

“Through the commitments we’ve set out today, we are accelerating work to reduce our own emissions and build a portfolio of climate-smart investments. In making clear commitments on climate, we are setting a robust plan for our operations and our own investments. We are actively developing innovative products and services designed to contribute towards the urgent, global fight against climate change.”

Manulife’s new climate goals include reducing the emissions footprint of operations, working towards net zero emissions in investments, and offering sustainable investing options to clients. In its own operations, Manulife has already achieved net zero, and has now committed to a 35% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035, through initiatives including enhanced efficiency measures, fuel switching, and use of onsite renewables.

On the investment front, Manulife announced a commitment to target net zero portfolio emissions by 2050. The company will establish near-term emissions targets, with an initial focus on heavy-emitting sectors. The company also plans to continue growing its green investments portfolio, in areas including renewable energy and energy-efficient real estate.

In its products and services, Manulife pledged scale the integration of ESG, and to develop solutions aimed at contributing to climate change mitigation and resilience.

Sarah Chapman, Global Chief Sustainability Officer, Manulife, said:

“Our approach is centered on two core principles. First, that there is an immediate need to take action on climate change today; and second, that our actions result in real change versus create the perception of change. Accelerated decarbonization of Manulife’s portfolio is a top priority for achieving our 2050 ambition.”

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Arabesque Acquires The Reporting Exchange from WBCSD

Sustainable finance technology solutions provider Arabesque announced today the acquisition of The Reporting Exchange, a global resource for ESG reporting, from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The Reporting Exchange is a free online platform, set up to be a go-to resource for ESG reporting, collating comprehensive and reliable information on ESG reporting requirements and resources across more than 70 countries. Key features include search tools to navigate thousands of ESG reporting requirements across countries, a global database of sustainability rankings, ratings and indexes, and a categorised library of ESG indicators, among others. It was Launched in 2017 by WBCSD and partners CDSB and Ecodesk and in collaboration with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Dr. Daniel Klier, incoming CEO of Arabesque S-Ray, said:

“The rapid increase in ESG regulation on a global scale has highlighted the need for technology-based, scalable and quantitative data solutions for corporates and investors. We are delighted to be partnering with WBCSD and taking over The Reporting Exchange and look forward to enhancing the platform’s capabilities as a leading ESG data resource for all market stakeholders.”

Andrew Beanland, Director in Redefining Value, WBCSD added:

“The Reporting Exchange is a vital piece of the puzzle for both companies, investors and policy makers in understanding and navigating the complexity of the ESG reporting landscape. We’re delighted to be collaborating with Arabesque to secure the future of the platform for the foreseeable future, and ensure that all parties have an up to date, reliable picture of key developments.”

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Whirlpool Expands Sustainability Commitments with New 2030 Net Zero Goal

Leading home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool announced today a new environmental sustainability commitment, aiming to achieve net zero emissions in its plants and operations by 2030.

According to Whirlpool, the new commitment will cover more than 30 of Whirlpool Corporation’s manufacturing sites and its large distribution centers around the world, spanning all direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions.

Marc Bitzer, chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corporation, said:

“Whirlpool Corporation has a longstanding commitment to sustainability and we established our first office for sustainability over 50 years ago. Our net zero commitment is an important milestone in our ongoing effort to improve life at home by protecting our planet and communities.”

The new targets expand on Whirlpool’s existing goals to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 50% by 2030. Additionally, Whirlpool has also set a 2030 target to reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from use of sold products  by 20%. Whirlpool’s absolute emissions reduction targets were validated by the Science Based Targets initiative last year.

The company outlined several of the initiatives it will pursue as it works towards its sustainability goals. These include working towards 100% renewable energy usage through wind and solar panel installations and Power Purchase Agreements that fund wind and solar farms, energy efficiency programs at the company’s plants and facilities, and offsets for remaining emissions that can’t be avoided.

On Scope 3, the company highlighted investments in product innovations including automating water levels, utilizing cold water settings as default, and helping auto-dose detergents to further lower its environmental impacts and save consumers time and money.

Ron Volgewede, Global Sustainability Director for Whirlpool Corporation, said:

“We are proud of the commitments we have made today, but we recognize our climate impacts extend beyond our plants and facilities. That’s why we are committed to working with our stakeholders to continue to drive improvements across the entire value chain in an ambition to reach net zero across all our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in the long term.”

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ECB President Lagarde Proposes Green Capital Markets Union, Says Sustainability Reporting is Key

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, said today that the development of a green capital markets union (CMU) could offer the European Union the opportunity to build a truly pan-European financial system. Lagarde stated that key tools such as sustainability disclosures and sustainable finance standards would be key to such a system’s establishment.

Lagarde made the remarks in a speech today at the European Commission’s high-level conference on the proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The conference was set up to discuss the commission’s proposals released last month strengthening the rules under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), the EU directive requiring companies to disclose information on the way they operate and manage social and environmental challenges.

According to Lagarde, the emergence of green finance to fund the shift to a net zero emissions economy has created the opportunity to foster an integrated capital market for the European Union, helping solve challenges such as making the monetary union more resilient to cyclical shocks, and enabling coordinated economic transformation to deal with structural changes.

Lagarde said:

“The shift to net zero emissions, together with an adequate digital backbone, will require major investments across Europe in technology, infrastructure and networks. Fragmentation between national financial markets might constrain our ability to finance future investments. But if green finance continues to emerge to fund this transition, the consequences for Europe’s financial system could be sweeping.“In fact, I believe that the green transition offers us a unique opportunity to build a truly European capital market that transcends national borders – or what I would call green capital markets union (CMU).”

Lagarde pointed to the EU’s unique position to take advantage of the emergence of green finance, with 60% of global green bond issuance originating in EU countries.

Outlining the key developments necessary for the development of a green CMU, Lagarde highlighted the need for improved sustainability disclosure, and said that she supported the European Commission’s proposed rules which would extend mandated sustainability reporting requirements to tens of thousands of companies, and ultimately aims to bring sustainability reporting on par with financial reporting.

Lagarde said:

“I strongly welcome this proposal and believe it can finally address the main data gaps currently afflicting the EU’s sustainable finance landscape. It will also be a key pillar of the Commission’s forthcoming proposal for a European single access point. By integrating sustainability disclosures with financial data, we would create a “one-stop shop” for all critical information about a company, including its green credentials, which would be immensely useful for investors.”

Lagarde also called for reforms including proper European supervision of green financial products, and harmonised tax treatment of investments in sustainable finance products.

Lagarde added:

“In short, Green CMU not only gives us a tremendous opportunity to craft something genuinely European and with immediate impact, but it also has the potential to transform the EU as a whole.“It would allow us to make our economy more resilient to shocks and fit for the future, all while avoiding the worst scenarios for climate change.”

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Amundi Files Proposal with McDonald’s Calling for Transparency on Antibiotic Use in Supply Chain

ESG-focused shareholder advocacy NGO The Shareholder Commons announced that it will present a shareholder proposal at the annual shareholder meeting of McDonald’s Corporation, asking the company for disclosure regarding the systemic costs of antibiotics use in the company’s supply chain. The proposal has been co-filed by Trinity College at the University of Cambridge and leading European asset manager Amundi Asset Management.

According to The Shareholder Commons, excessive use of antibiotics in raising animals for food contributes to antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, which threatens global health by reducing the effectiveness of antibiotic drugs. The proposal outlines the potential systemic costs that may arise from AMR:

“In addition to the resulting loss of life and increased poverty, AMR may decrease global GDP 3% by 2030, and almost 4% by 2050. At an intermediate discount rate, this will amount to economic losses by 2050 with a current value of $54 trillion.”

In the proposal, the shareholders ask McDonald’s to commission and disclose a study on the external environmental and public health costs created by the use of antibiotics in its supply chain, incorporating the system-wide costs of AMR, including the impact to shareholders. The Shareholder Commons also encouraged the company to pursue actions including discussing an optimal, global scenario for the food industry to eliminate or internalize AMR costs, and to describe how the company’s policies and procedures, such as lobbying, would affect that scenario’s realization.

According to the NGO, a similar proposal was filed with KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell parent company Yum! Brands, and subsequently withdrawn after the company committed to disclose the systemic costs of antibiotic use.

Frederick Alexander, CEO of The Shareholder Commons, said:

“While U.S. securities laws require companies to disclose matters that are material to their own financial performance, there is no requirement that companies report their impacts on people or planet. We are encouraged that Yum! recognized the importance of disclosing their impacts on public health and well-being. Now it’s time for McDonald’s to step up and also address this important systemic issue.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University, added:

“AMR is a complex challenge which requires collaborative action by governments, NGOs, and corporations. We were are all pleased to see Yum! take this important step in March, and would now like to see McDonald’s follow suit and join global best practices on AMR by aligning its supply chain with the needs of people and planet.”

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Northern Trust AM Appoints Julie Moret Global Head of Sustainable Investing and Stewardship

Global investment manager Northern Trust Asset Management (NTAM) announced today that it has hired Julie Moret, appointing her Global Head of Sustainable Investing and Stewardship.

In her new role, Moret will be responsible for overseeing NTAM’s sustainable investing and global engagement policies, fostering research and product development agendas, advancing portfolio integration across asset classes and contributing to the firm’s perspectives to external industry associations.

NTAM President Shundrawn Thomas said:

“Julie brings deep expertise and keen insights in all facets of sustainable investing and stewardship. Her investment acumen and product knowledge span all major asset classes, geographies and industries. Her unique combination of skills and experiences will serve as a tremendous asset to all of our key stakeholders including our colleagues, clients and the communities we serve.”

Prior to joining NTAM, Moret worked for eight years at global investment manager Franklin Templeton, serving as Head of ESG, responsible for establishing and leading the firm’s efforts to evolve the integration of ESG considerations into the investment process and risk framework, as well as shaping product development globally. She has also held senior investment and portfolio risk positions at firms including Aviva Investors and MSCI.

Moret said:

“Northern Trust has long been a respected and trusted leader in sustainability. I’ve always admired their depth, the intentionality of their approach in both sustainable investing and stewardship. There’s an authenticity to it and I’m proud to join such a purposeful organization.”

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