Maitland/AMO Sustain Monitor – 20 November 2020

20th November 2020

For this week’s In the Hot Seat we welcomed Bhavini ‘Bev’ Shah, Chief Executive & Co-Founder of City Hive, an independent organisation which partners with companies across the investment industry, helping them to meet their sustainability responsibilities in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive corporate culture.


Diversity has been one of the hottest sustainability topics this year and it has been high on the investment community’s agenda. So how can the investment management industry better measure and disclose their approach to diversity and inclusion? “We need an improved and inclusive culture to future-proof our industry, but there has been no industry standard or measurable way to address the lack of diversity in investment management and its consequences” said Bev.


In response, City Hive developed ACT (Action, Culture, Transparency) – a corporate culture kitemark. The new initiative provides a framework for companies “across the investment management industry to truly address, assess and catalyse an improvement in the culture within their own organisation, along with the wider investment industry, and ultimately in the companies that they invest in”. For Bev, the goal was simple: establish an industry agreement “on the need for a collective vision of change, and a tangible way for firms to demonstrate that they are committed to drastically improving diversity”.


Earlier this year, City Hive also launched a Cross-Company Mentoring Programme. “We collaborated with Investment Week to launch the only Investment Management industry focused cross-company mentoring scheme. It was sponsored by Pictet Asset Management, Eaton Vance Investment Management, TT International and Mirabaud Asset Management”.


The scheme was unusual because the “sponsors funded the entire scheme with only limited places going to their firms but instead funded places for mentor-mentee pairs open to anyone at any career stage from any function within the Investment Management industry ecosystem, regardless of whether their company is a sponsor” added Bev.


And what was Bev’s piece of advice for someone considering a career in responsible investing? “If you want to truly have an impact in your role then ensure the company you work for is held to account just as strenuously as any company you invest with. Don’t allow your firm to use you as a pot of green paint to greenwash”. The full interview can be read here.


Enjoy the weekend.


Maitland/AMO Sustain Team


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A round-up of this week’s sustainability news…

In Business

  • AD NET ZERO: The advertising industry has launched Ad Net Zero – a sector-wide initiative to highlight a five-point action plan to help slash emissions from the sector.
  • PLANT-BASED TARGET: Unilever has announced plans to sell €1bn-worth of plant-based foods and dairy alternatives within the next seven years as part of a new sustainability programme that aims to reduce the environmental footprint of its food brands.
  • EP100: The annual report from the EP100 initiative has revealed that members, which include Swiss Re and Woolworths Holdings, delivered emissions savings equalling 360 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • RECOVAS: A partnership between BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and a number of recycling specialists has won support from the government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre. The three-year RECOVAS project will aim to create a commercial-scale supply chain for repurposing EV batteries.
  • OXFORD NET ZERO: Oxford University has launched Oxford Net Zero – a new initiative that aims to provide expertise and policy advice to companies and policymakers on achieving net zero emissions.
  • AMUNDI PARTNERSHIP: Asset manager Amundi has announced a partnership with University of Cambridge and University of Oxford colleges to develop a customised low-carbon ESG index fund that will be open to other charities and endowment funds.
  • EARTH FUND RECIPIENTS: Jeff Bezos has announced the first group of recipients to benefit from his $10bn Earth Fund. The World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy have both received $100m each from the fund.
  • SCOTTISH WIND FARMS: European Energy, a Danish energy company, and UK renewables company Locogen have announced a tie-up that will see the businesses finance and develop over 800MW of onshore wind power in Scotland.
  • CITY GOES GREEN: The City of London corporation has struck a £40m deal with French company Voltalia to purchase electricity from a subsidy-free solar farm in Dorset.
  • FIAT 500 CHARGING: Fiat Chrysler has partnered with Kaluza to develop a new smart EV charging system for Fiat 500 owners to help reduce costs and emissions for EV drivers.
  • CSO: Prince Charles has launched a new taskforce group called S30, which is campaigning for major companies to appoint ‘suitably empowered’ Chief Sustainability Officers to help ensure that environmental efforts are embedded in their businesses.
  • CLIMATE ACTION 100+: Campaign group Climate Action 100+ has expanded the focus list of companies it is engaging with to deliver Paris Agreement-aligned emissions cuts, implement strong climate governance frameworks and improve climate-related disclosures. Overall, nine companies have been added to the list, while two have been removed. The net rise in companies engaged globally through Climate Action 100+ takes the total to 167.
  • STOREBRAND SIGNS THE SBEFP: Norwegian financial services company Storebrand has signed the UN-backed Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles. The endorsement of the principles signals Storebrand’s commitment and ambition to accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable use of the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.

In Politics

  • TEN POINT PLAN: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled his 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution – totalling £12bn of government investment in a host of clean technologies and projects including offshore wind and EVs. The Prime Minister has also announced a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in the UK from 2030.
  • NET ZERO BUSINESS CHAMPION: Andrew Griffith, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, has been appointed as the UK’s new Net Zero Business Champion. The role will see him support businesses’ efforts to introduce credible plans to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
  • COP26 SPONSORS: The UK government has announced the first corporate sponsors for the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow next year with SSE, Scottish Power and NatWest Group chosen as ‘principal partners’.
  • UKRI FUNDING: The UKRI has allocated £8m of government funding from its Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge to ten university-led projects. The funding will go towards a range of research areas including compostable plastic packaging.
  • LONDON FUNDING: The Mayor of London has announced that the first £10m of funding as part of the city’s ‘Green New Deal Fund’ will be allocated to green projects including solar panel installations. Funding will also go towards combatting the problems that have exacerbated inequalities due to Covid-19 including fuel poverty.
  • PRI COLLAB: The UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the European Leveraged Finance Association have announced a collaboration on ESG disclosures for leveraged finance transactions. The pair plans to increase disclosure of material ESG factors for “junk” or subinvestment grade corporate borrowers.

In Investment

  • ZENOBE BATTERIES: Zenobe Energy, a clean energy infrastructure specialist, has secured £150m of investment from Infracapital to grow its grid-scale battery services and EV charging infrastructure services.
  • VOLKSWAGEN INVESTMENT: Volkswagen has announced plans to invest €73bn over the next half decade in electric, hybrid and digital technologies. It will also increase its focus on battery development.
  • STATEMENT FROM SASB: The Investor Advisory Board of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), which consists of 55 leading international asset owners and asset managers, has published a statement calling on companies to use SASB standards in disclosures to investors.
  • ARRIVAL LISTING: UK EV start-up Arrival is set to list on the New York Stock Exchange, generating around £500m for the company in a move that would value Arrival at over £4bn.
  • FOSSIL FUEL-FREE FUND: PensionBee is aiming to launch one of the UK’s first fossil-fuel free pension funds after successfully receiving £31m in funds commitments from customers in under a week.
  • NET-ZERO ASSET OWNER ALLIANCE: The UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance has added three new members with combined assets under management (AUM) of $200 billion. Membership of the Alliance has grown to 33 organisations managing a combined $5.1 trillion assets, from 12 members managing $2.4 trillion at the launch in September 2019.

In Research

  • CDP STUDY: CDP analysis has found that key organisations operating in the global food supply chain are underestimating key environmental risks and instead prioritising small-scale product innovations. The CDP concludes that they are therefore missing chances to create a more sustainable food system.
  • INVESTMENT NEEDED: A new study from PwC has found that the UK needs around £400bn of investment in green infrastructure over the next ten years if it wants to hit its 2050 net zero target.