ESG Essentials: New study- Asset managers voting against biodiversity

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New study finds largest asset managers consistently vote against biodiversity proposals

A study by think-tank Planet Tracker found that some of the largest asset managers, including BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, have voted against or abstained on major biodiversity proposals at company AGMs between 80-100% of the time. 

Planet Tracker’s report, Voting Against Nature, found many investors had opposed biodiversity proposals that prevented deforestation and protected animal welfare, despite the wider economy’s dependence on nature. The study found that investors voted against these measures 52% of the time, with only 7% providing any reasoning for doing so. 

With biodiversity becoming an increasingly vital environmental issue, especially after COP15 last year, there is significant pressure on investors to advocate for greater change in their portfolio companies and this data shows the financial world has a long way to go to improve its record.  

Solar power investment to exceed oil for first time, says IEA chief

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has announced that investment in solar power will exceed spending on oil production for the first time. Speaking to the Financial Times, Faith Birol, executive director of the IEA, said that if this trend continues, “we can keep the 1.5C goal alive”. 

The IEA has predicted that spending in solar will reach $382bn, a large part of the $659bn spent on renewable power and $1.7tn spent on clean technologies more broadly. Further investment will be instrumental in keeping down costs and deploying the technology as widely as possible. 

Amid this enthusiasm, many have pointed out that while investment for renewable energy has rapidly increased, investment in energy infrastructure has not followed suit. In the UK, green energy projects worth billions have been put on hold because there are no available connections – similar problems have emerged in the US where subsidies from the Inflation Reduction Act have led to a surge in green projects. 

Investor network FAIRR pressures fast food companies to take threat of Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) seriously

The FAIRR initiative, an investor network backed by $70tn AUM, has announced an engagement targeting 12 of the largest fast food companies in an attempt to improve their transparency regarding the use of antibiotics in their supply chains. The overuse of antibiotics in many factory farm settings has increased the threat of producing diseases that are resistant to these medicines, putting animals and humans at risk.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is internationally recognised as a global public health threat, resulting in an estimated 1.27 million deaths a year, with the potential to reduce global economic output by $100 trillion. 

FAIRR will be gathering support for this engagement in the coming month, with the deadline for investors to sign up on July 3rd and plans to publish an assessment of their target companies in Q1 of 2024.

An electric car battery with a range of 1000km announced- a potential breakthrough in the green industry

Gotion High Tech, a start-up that supplies EV batteries to Volkswagen, unveiled a new generation of battery technology this week that would have a single-charge range of 1000km and a life-cycle that would allow it to be fully discharged 4,000 times. Once it becomes mass produced and commercially available in 2024, this new technology could be revolutionary for the EV market, where vehicles typically have a range of under 500km.

Electric vehicles have become a target for investors and policymakers alike, given its potential to vastly reduce emissions in transport, which contributed 37% of global emissions in 2021

The market for EVs has grown rapidly, most prominently in China, where 1 out of every 4 vehicles sold in 2022 was electric. Many other countries, however, have not had similar success. In the US for instance, electric vehicles comprised only 5.8% of sales last year, a figure that the Biden administration has tried to boost

Advances in technology such as these could potentially increase the appeal of electric vehicles to consumers and finally create the conditions for a strong market.

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