ESG Insider: A podcast from S&P Global

By S&P Global

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ESG Insider is a podcast from S&P Global that takes you inside the environmental, social & governance issues shaping the business world today. In each episode, co-hosts Lindsey Hall and Esther Whieldon interview ESG experts, leveraging S&P Global data to shine a light on the sustainability opportunities and risks that business leaders and investors need to know about. Lindsey Hall is head of ESG Thought Leadership at S&P Global Sutainable1 and Esther Whieldon is a Senior Writer on the team.

Episode Date
On the ground at Climate Week NYC: Moving from goals to action
22:07

Climate Week wrapped up last week in New York City, and throughout the week, we heard about the systemic changes needed to combat climate change. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we’re bringing you key takeaways, highlights and interviews from our time on the ground.  

We hear from Global Head of Sustainable Investing at Natixis Investment Managers, Nathalie Wallace, about the role the investment community plays in combating climate change. Ivan Frishberg, Chief Sustainability Officer at New York-based Amalgamated Bank, talks to us about the growing sense of urgency around climate and the challenges of the current ESG landscape. 

And we interview Amy Hepburn, CEO of the Investor Leadership Network, which represents institutional investors with more than $10 trillion dollars in assets under management. She talks about the ‘3 Cs’ needed to find solutions to climate change: collaboration, cooperation and creativity.  

"For a long time in this space, we have all operated in silos and echo chambers talking to like-minded actors: Investors talking to investors, [multilateral development banks] talking to MDBs, governments talking to governments," Amy says. "This issue is not going to be solved by any one of those sets of actors — it’s only going to be solved in concert." 

You can read more of our key takeaways from Climate Week NYC here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/insights/blog/5-questions-on-the-road-from-climate-week-to-cop27 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Sep 30, 2022
As COP27 approaches, central banks signaling need for action on climate
29:30

Climate Week NYC is ending, and the United Nations Climate Conference known as COP27 is fast approaching. As the urgency to address climate change intensifies, financial regulators and supervisors are taking an increasing interest in climate change and the impact it is having on the financial system and the economy at large.  

To get a better understanding of this landscape, we’re looking at some of the recent actions central banks have taken on climate in this episode of the ESG Insider podcast. 

We speak to Irene Monasterolo, Professor of Climate Finance at French business school EDHEC, who tells us discussions at COP27 need to focus on adaptation both for developing and developed nations. We also hear from Stanislas Jourdan, Executive Director of the Brussels-based NGO Positive Money Europe, where he leads advocacy campaigns and research on the European Central Bank and monetary policy. And we speak to Danae Kyriakopoulou, Senior Policy Fellow at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.   

"Climate change and its impact is generally very worrying, and we are seeing this the more data we gather, how urgent the need for action is and how unprepared we are if we do not step up action in time," Danae tells us. "That is certainly true also of the financial system and the banking system. It is relatively recent that we have seen the financial sector engage seriously with this."

Listen to our previous episode featuring an interview with Ravi Menon, Chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System, or NGFS, here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/how-central-banks-help-combat-climate-change-an-interview-with-ngfs-chair-ravi-menon    

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).  

Photo credit: Getty Images  

DISCLAIMER  

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties.   

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST.  

Sep 28, 2022
How green banks aim to use new federal funds to accelerate low-carbon transition
23:12

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we delve into a measure in the recently passed U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, that allocates $27 billion toward green banks and other local investments via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.   

In an interview with Connecticut Green Bank President and CEO Bryan Garcia, we explore how green banks could use this new influx of federal funds to accelerate the low-carbon transition. The Connecticut Green Bank was the nation's first green bank and was formed in 2011.  

We also talk with Reed Hundt, the CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital, a nonprofit with the goal of accelerating investment in clean energy technologies, which has helped organize a number of green banks.   

To hear more about the implications of the Inflation Reduction Act, check out our recent episode on the topic here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/what-landmark-new-us-climate-law-means-for-emissions  

And to learn more about green banks, check out this podcast episode of ESG Insider:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-green-banks-can-accelerate-climate-finance/id1475521006?i=1000534974896  

Register for the event S&P Global Sustainable1 is hosting during Climate Week here: https://events.spglobal.com/event/bc170867-ebf3-423d-a828-2c379780a571/summary?RefId=social&rt=suGjbadFj0uCGwHKysKQtQ  

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Copyright © 2022 by S&P Global 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Sep 16, 2022
Climate Week countdown: How the climate landscape is evolving
32:29

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast from S&P Global Sustainable1, we preview what to expect during Climate Week NYC, which begins Sept. 19. Climate Week has run annually since 2009, convening leaders from business, government and the climate community through hundreds of events held across New York City. The goal is to drive climate action, and this year the tagline is “Getting it Done.”  

To learn more about what to expect from the week, we turn to Dr. Terry Thompson. Terry is Chief Science Officer at The Climate Service, an S&P Global company. In the interview, he explains in plain English how climate science is evolving. He also talks about the “sea change” in public perception of climate risks. 

“This is not a future event when we talk about climate change. It is essentially a current emergency,” Terry says. “We're reaching the cusp of very much more strenuous and concentrated efforts to address climate change.” 

Register for the event S&P Global Sustainable1 is hosting during Climate Week here: https://events.spglobal.com/event/bc170867-ebf3-423d-a828-2c379780a571/summary?RefId=social&rt=suGjbadFj0uCGwHKysKQtQ  

To learn more about physical risk, register for an upcoming webinar hosted by S&P Global Sustainable1 here: https://spgi-mkto.spglobal.com/S1-TCS-WLG-220915-PC-GL-CT-ESG-TCS-HarmonizedFeed_Webinar-Registration.html?UTM_source=podcast 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Copyright © 2022 by S&P Global 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Sep 09, 2022
How the hunt for ESG talent is evolving
29:01

Sustainability and ESG have evolved significantly in recent years — and alongside this change, recruiting in the space has also changed.  In this Labor Day weekend episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we go behind the scenes of ESG recruiting in an interview with Kurt Harrison, a Partner with the global executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates where he is Co-Head of the Global Sustainability Practice. 

Kurt says the demand for ESG talent is “insatiable.” He gives us insight into the kinds of questions he gets from job candidates, and also the kinds of things companies are looking for in their sustainability hires. 

To listen to our interview with Ravi Menon, the Chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System, or NGFS, click here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/how-central-banks-help-combat-climate-change-an-interview-with-ngfs-chair-ravi-menon  

To listen to the episode where we discuss the evolving role of the Chief Sustainability Officer, click here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/how-chief-sustainability-officers-are-becoming-a-must-have-for-companies   

To register for the event S&P Global Sustainable1 is hosting during Climate Week, click here: https://events.spglobal.com/EWG92g?rt=suGjbadFj0uCGwHKysKQtQ&RefId=social  

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Copyright © 2022 by S&P Global 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST.

Sep 02, 2022
What landmark new US climate law means for emissions
27:12

On Aug. 16th, 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA. The IRA is a comprehensive energy and climate law that allocates nearly $370 billion in federal spending to decarbonization efforts over the next decade. 

In this episode of ESG Insider, we take a deep dive into those measures and explore the implications for the goal President Biden set to cut U.S. emissions by at least 50% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels.  

We talk with Robbie Orvis, Senior Director for Modeling and Analysis at Energy Innovation, a non-partisan energy and climate policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. "There is a pretty clear path now to" achieving Biden's emissions reduction goals, he tells us. At the same time, says Robbie, "there are lots of things that have to go right to hit those types of targets and numbers," including building out U.S. electric transmission capacity to accommodate future renewable generation, and tackling workforce and supply chain challenges. 

Listen to our episode on the low-carbon strategies of U.S. automaker General Motors here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/how-automaker-gm-is-tackling-climate-change-social-equity-and-supply-chain-risk  

To hear more about the implications of the Inflation Reduction Act, listen to a recent episode of the Energy Evolution podcast from our colleagues at S&P Global Market Intelligence here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-will-us-democrats-new-deal-on-climate-affect-the/id1485337462?i=1000575106791 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).  

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Copyright © 2022 by S&P Global 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Aug 26, 2022
How Chief Sustainability Officers are becoming a 'must-have' for companies
20:02

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore the evolving role of the Chief Sustainability Offer, which is taking on greater importance in many organizations as awareness of environmental, social and governance issues grows.  

In many companies, the CSO is now working in tandem with Chief Executives and Chief Financial Officers. Often CSOs act as the "glue" embedding sustainability throughout company strategy and across different departments, Francesca Messini tells us in the episode. Francesca is a sustainability leader at audit, consulting and advisory firm Deloitte and an author behind a new report about the rise of CSOs in the European banking industry. The report was jointly published in June 2022 by Deloitte and the European Banking Federation, a trade group. 

"The Chief Sustainability Officer is not anymore a 'nice-to-have' role, but is a 'must have,' and has been proved to be essential to steer the sustainability strategy and the commitments that the banks are taking," Francesca says.  

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Aug 19, 2022
How central banks help combat climate change: An interview with NGFS Chair Ravi Menon
23:31

In the last few years, central banks have played an increasing role in measuring the impacts of climate change on financial systems and economies. In 2017, a handful of central banks established the Network for Greening the Financial System, or NGFS. The network now has more than 100 members from around the globe working to manage and measure the risks climate change poses to financial stability.   

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we speak with NGFS Chair Ravi Menon, who is also managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the central bank of Singapore. He talks about the work of the NGFS, the challenges of addressing physical risk and transition risk, and the role of central banks in combating climate change.  

“The challenge of climate change is so pervasive, you really need a whole-of-nation, whole-of-society response," he says. "Central banks, being a major part of that ecosystem, have an important role to play. But it is not a primary role. It can't be the key needle mover. It needs to work together with the rest of the government, the financial industry and other stakeholders in this effort."

Listen to our episode about the climate stress test France’s central bank conducted here: https://podcasts.apple.com/ie/podcast/heres-how-you-stress-test-for-climate-risk-according/id1475521006?i=1000525188660   

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST.

Aug 12, 2022
What Harry Potter and sustainability rules have in common
21:44

Regulation is transforming the world of environmental, social and governance investing, and in many areas, Europe has been leading the charge on new rules and standards. In June 2022, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a provisional agreement on new sustainability reporting rules for companies, known as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, or CSRD. 

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast we speak to Adrie Heinsbroek, Chief Sustainability Officer at Netherlands-based asset manager NN Investment Partners, to get the investor view on how the changes could impact ESG-focused fund managers — and how the sorting hat from Harry Potter helps explain the trajectory of ESG regulation. 

Listen to our previous episode about CSRD here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/csrd-eus-latest-proposed-addition-to-alphabet-soup/id1475521006?i=1000529859763  

Read our monthly ESG Regulatory Tracker here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/insights/esg-regulatory-tracker-june-2022 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties. 

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Aug 05, 2022
How nature disclosure is evolving through challenges
27:21

The rapid decline of the world's biodiversity poses big financial risks to businesses and the global economy. One of the organizations working to help companies assess, report and act on these risks is the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, or TNFD.   

The TNFD has been busy since forming in 2021 — releasing beta disclosure frameworks and launching pilot projects to test out these frameworks. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we speak with one of the experts deeply involved in crafting the frameworks, Emily McKenzie, who is Technical Director of the TNFD Secretariat.   

"We're trying to create a framework that's global, aligned with the global sustainability reporting baseline, but also flexible to be applicable in jurisdictions that may be more ambitious than that," Emily tells us.  

Listen to our episode featuring an interview with TNFD co-chair Elizabeth Mrema here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/the-new-task-force-in-town  

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties.  

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Jul 29, 2022
How one large insurer is tackling climate transition risk
24:38

In this episode of ESG Insider we're talking with one of the largest U.S. property and casualty insurers, Liberty Mutual Insurance, about how the company is integrating climate change risk into its investment decisions and underwriting practices.  

We interview Rakhi Kumar, Senior Vice President for Sustainability Solutions and Business Integration at Liberty Mutual Insurance, about a recent climate transition scenario analysis by the insurer. 

"As much as we may want to go faster, we have to recognize that there are realities that need to happen," says Rakhi.  

The analysis found that the lack of a coordinated global policy approach among countries presents the most immediate and greatest source of climate transition risk to companies. 

Listen to the ESG Insider episode from the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit in New York here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/on-the-ground-in-nyc-how-climate-change-is-forcing-a-new-type-of-financial-literacy    

Listen to the episode where we talk with MunichRe about the insurer's approach to natural disasters here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/how-one-of-the-worlds-1 

Listen to our episode featuring Manulife's Global Chief Sustainability Officer here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/why-esg-experts-say-don-t-let-perfect-be-the-enemy-of-good 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties.  

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST.

Jul 22, 2022
The man behind many of those ESG acronyms
31:43

“If there’s an acronym in the disclosure space, I usually was involved,” quipped Curtis Ravenel at the recent GreenFin conference in New York. 

Curtis is Senior Advisor for the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, or GFANZ, and Member of the Secretariat for the FSB Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD. In an interview for this episode of the ESG Insider podcast following the conference, Curtis discusses the convergence happening among the alphabet soup of sustainability standard setters; the net zero transition; and the path forward during a time of tension in the ESG world.  

To read more about GFANZ guidance on credible net zero transition plans: https://www.gfanzero.com/ 

S&P Global Sustainable1 was a sponsor of GreenFin. 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

DISCLAIMER 

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties.  

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST. 

Jul 15, 2022
Why ESG experts say: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
34:18

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast we bring you highlights from the GreenFin conference, which convened stakeholders from across the green finance ecosystem. The evolution of ESG data was a big topic at the event and in our interviews with attendees. We talk with Manulife Global Chief Sustainability Officer Sarah Chapman; Nasdaq Global Head of Sustainability Evan Harvey; and Joel Makower, who is chairman and co-founder of GreenBiz Group, the media and events company that hosted the event.

S&P Global Sustainable1 was a sponsor of GreenFin.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

DISCLAIMER

By accessing this Podcast, I acknowledge that S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information featured in this Podcast. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk. This Podcast should not be considered professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, S&P GLOBAL does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this Podcast, and information from this Podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third party materials or content of any third party site referenced in this Podcast do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of S&P GLOBAL. S&P GLOBAL assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of the content contained in third party materials or on third party sites referenced in this Podcast or the compliance with applicable laws of such materials and/or links referenced herein. Moreover, S&P GLOBAL makes no warranty that this Podcast, or the server that makes it available, is free of viruses, worms, or other elements or codes that manifest contaminating or destructive properties.

S&P GLOBAL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST.

Jul 08, 2022
Unpacking the SEC's proposed ESG fund rules
33:54

Amid rapid growth in ESG investment, regulators around the world are developing sustainability-focused rules. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore new rules proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that involve sustainable or ESG-labeled funds.

To get a better understanding, we talk with Aniket Shah, managing director and global head of environmental, social and governance and sustainability research at Jefferies Group. We also speak with George Raine, a partner in the asset management group at the law firm Ropes & Gray, and Lance Dial, a partner in the ESG & Sustainability group at law firm Morgan Lewis.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Listen to our episode on the EU's Sustainable Finance Disclosure regulation here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/new-eu-sustainable-finance 

Read our monthly Regulatory Tracker here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/insights/esg-regulatory-tracker-may-2022

Photo credit: S&P Global Sustainable1

Jul 01, 2022
What a new EU energy plan means for renewables investment 
27:53

The European Commission in May proposed its ‘REPowerEU’ plan to wean the EU off supplies of Russian fossil fuels and accelerate its transition to a low-carbon economy. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we talk with experts about the plan and what it means for investment in renewables.

We speak with Elisabetta Cornago, senior research fellow at think tank the Centre for European Reform. We talk to Hans Stegeman, chief investment strategist at asset manager Triodos Investment Management. And we hear from Dries Acke, policy director of SolarPower Europe, which represents the solar power industry.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jun 24, 2022
How ESG is becoming 'table stakes' for private equity
27:48

In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of interest in ESG investing, and private equity firms are part of that growing trend.   

In this episode of ESG Insider, we sit down with Lisa Hall, Impact Chair at Apollo Global Management. Apollo is one of the largest investing firms in the U.S. and pursues a number of strategies ranging from investment grade debt to private equity. Lisa talks about how ESG is becoming "table stakes" across industries and investment strategies.   

She also explains how Apollo's new private equity impact investing strategy aims to fill ESG financing gaps in education, health, safety, wellness and economic opportunity.   

"We very clearly are providing services and products that certain markets have not traditionally had access to," Lisa says. "That additionality and focus on underserved markets is something that we haven't explicitly or intentionally done in the traditional flagship funds that we are doing with a great deal of intention in the impact strategy."

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).  

To listen to our episode from the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit in New York: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/on-the-ground-in-nyc-how-climate-change-is-forcing-a-new-type-of-financial-literacy   

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jun 17, 2022
How automaker GM is tackling climate change, social equity and supply chain risks
19:34

When it comes to tackling climate change, scientists say making transformative changes to the transportation sector will be key. For example, curbing vehicle transportation emissions will require a rapid scaling up of electric vehicle charging infrastructure as well as EV manufacturing. At the same time, companies are grappling with how to ensure the low-carbon transition balances climate goals with social ones. 

In this episode of ESG Insider, we talk with Hina Baloch, Executive Director for Data Analytics, Sustainability and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and STEM Education Communications at General Motors, one of largest auto manufacturers in the U.S. GM has made several low-carbon pledges and is working on ensuring an equitable and just transition as it pursues those goals. The company is also moving to shore up access to new domestic resources for critical minerals after the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict exposed weaknesses in global supply chains. 

"A resilient local supply chain is going to be very important for a sustainable manufacturing future," says Hina. "Ensuring sustainability, ensuring scalability, ensuring security and ensuring cost competitiveness of our supply chain locally is extremely important." 

Correction: This episode was updated to remove a reference to the location of where GM's Cadillac LYRIQ is being built. It is being built in Tennessee and not in New York.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).  

To listen to our episode from the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit in New York: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/on-the-ground-in-nyc-how-climate-change-is-forcing-a-new-type-of-financial-literacy  

To read more about expectations for electric vehicle sales, read this report by S&P Global Commodity Insights: https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/market-insights/latest-news/energy-transition/042222-surging-ev-sales-hitting-high-lithium-prices-supply-chain-constraints-experts   

 Photo credit: Getty Images 

Jun 13, 2022
Heineken's holistic approach to ESG
26:50

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we sit down with Jan-Willem Vosmeer, Global Manager of Sustainable Development and Stakeholder Engagement at The Heineken Company. He talks about how the brewer is working with suppliers to reduce emissions, the challenges of working in a water-intensive industry, and how to make agriculture sustainable.  

But he says Heineken is focused on more than just environmental issues. It seeks to embed sustainability throughout its entire business, including through net zero goals, addressing responsible drinking and working to further diversity, equity and inclusion.  

"There's a lot of focus on the environmental part, but for me, it's really always a holistic agenda," Jan-Willem says. "So the S of social is as important as the environmental part, and they’re also interlinked."

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

To listen to our episode from the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit in Paris: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/on-the-ground-in-paris-long-term-net-zero-goals-need-urgent-action  

To listen to our episode from the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit in New York: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/on-the-ground-in-nyc-how-climate-change-is-forcing-a-new-type-of-financial-literacy 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Jun 03, 2022
On the ground in NYC: How climate change is forcing a new type of financial literacy
32:24

Corporates, financial institutions, investors and academics gathered in New York City on May 17 for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit to discuss topics such as net zero, the energy transition and ESG data challenges.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we bring you highlights from the panel discussions as well as interviews on the sidelines of the event.

We hear from Emily Chew, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Calvert Research and Management, one of the largest responsible investment companies in the U.S. Emily talks about the intense level of engagement and coordination that climate change requires of companies.

"Every organization needs this multi-stakeholder, multi-pronged approach," she says. "It really stretches us into this new ... type of financial literacy that pertains to climate."

We also hear from the largest bank in the U.S. Rama Variankaval, Global Head of the Center for Carbon Transition at JPMorgan Chase and Co., talks about the challenge of putting climate targets into practice.

"We published a target and that's when the real work started,” Rama says. “It's easy enough to put a glossy 20 pages with numbers on it and pretty pictures of trees, etc. But then you have to go and say: Ok, what do you do with this?"

We also sit down on the sidelines of the event with Josh Green, Co-Founder and COO of technology platform Novata, to talk about the role of private equity markets in ESG. “If all the public companies in the world are fantastic in reducing their carbon emissions but private companies keep doing business as usual, we are not going to solve our climate problem," he says.

And we talk with Simran Heer, Program Manager at Microsoft, who explains how the company uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to tackle sustainability issues.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 27, 2022
On the ground in Paris: Long-term net zero goals need urgent action
32:40

Around 300 corporates, financial institutions, investors and academics gathered in Paris on May 10 for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit to discuss topics including net zero, biodiversity, the energy transition and the ESG data challenge.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we sit down on the sidelines of the event with Sagarika Chatterjee, high level champion for climate action and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, or GFANZ. Sagarika talks about the importance of credible, near-term net zero targets. "This has to be about the next five years. It can't be about only the next 20 or the next 30," she tells us.

We also sit down with Magnus Billing, CEO of Sweden’s largest pension fund, Alecta. He says carbon pricing could be part of the solution in getting to net zero. "The market doesn't have the proper incentives today to take action," he tell us. "The drive to make changes and take actions would be enormously higher if we had a correct price on the actual cost" of carbon.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 20, 2022
A new economic model for the climate change era
27:12

Stakeholder capitalism — the idea that companies are responsible to a wide range of stakeholders in addition to shareholders — was a big focus at the last iteration of Davos, the annual meeting hosted by the World Economic Forum that brings together global leaders from governments, business and academia in Switzerland.

In 2022, Davos is scheduled to take place the week of May 22. Ahead of that event, we’re talking with Bruno Roche, the former Mars Inc. chief economist who founded the Economics of Mutuality platform. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, Bruno outlines a new approach to corporate performance measurement and accounting.

"Fifty years ago, financial capital was scarce, but natural resources were overly abundant. Today, it's just the opposite — financial capital is overly abundant and natural resources are scarce," Bruno tells us in this episode of the ESG Insider podcast. "Yet our economic model has not changed. So there is something wrong."

Bruno proposes a total rethink of corporate purpose to an approach that is more focused on a wide range of stakeholders. "The purpose of business is about creating scalable and profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet — not profiting from creating problems," he says.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 13, 2022
How human rights are moving up the agenda for businesses, investors
21:44

Human rights problems lurking in supply chains — from child labor and unfair wages to unsafe working conditions — are moving up the ESG agenda for many companies and investors.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore how the issue is evolving. One force behind this change is new legislation being rolled out that requires companies to identify, measure and tackle human rights risk related to their business activities. Another is a warming climate, and the way the physical impacts of climate change can affect societies and workers and disrupt the global flow of goods and services.

The human rights topic is also coming into sharper focus following the COVID-19 pandemic and amid instances of localized conflict in different parts of the world. Meanwhile, social media and other tech businesses face their own human rights issues, ranging from data privacy to hate speech.

In this episode, we talk with human rights experts from three organizations: asset manager Robeco, law firm Clifford Chance, and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a U.K.-based nonprofit.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 06, 2022
EU bank regulator puts spotlight on ESG disclosures
26:39

Regulation is increasingly shaping the agenda for environmental, social and governance-focused investors. In many parts of the world, regulators are working to bring clarity to an often-confusing ESG market amid an alphabet soup of different voluntary frameworks.

The European Banking Authority, which oversees EU banks, is one such regulator. Earlier this year, it said it will ask banks to disclose information on climate risks and their plans to address those risks from 2023. For this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we interviewed Pilar Gutierrez, Head of Reporting and Transparency at the EBA, about the new standards, how they fit with a push for more standardized reporting internationally, and what improvements banks will have to make.

“Many corporates or banks are already providing disclosure reports on nonfinancial information according to the TCFD recommendations,” Pilar tells us. “But when assessing these reports, we still observe growth for improvement in terms of consistency and comparability of the disclosures.”

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

Photo credit: Getty Images

Apr 29, 2022
Path to net zero for energy systems: Complicated but feasible, IPCC finds
29:09

A new report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, charts a challenging but feasible course ahead for many sectors in achieving net zero emissions. The report warns that delayed action could result in significantly worse losses and damages, including trillions of dollars worth of stranded fossil fuel assets.

In this Earth Day episode of ESG Insider, we talk with a contributing author to the report, John Bistline. John is Program Manager in the Energy Systems and Climate Analysis Group at the Electric Power Research Institute, or EPRI. He explains that a low-carbon future will depend on transforming energy systems that rely on electricity or fossil fuels to operate. And he talks about the potential challenges energy systems face in pursuing net zero emissions by 2050, and the actionable takeaways in the report for companies.

"The next steps are thinking about these credible commitments to public policy, private investment, to innovation. And in the near term, that may mean doubling down on options that previous decades have helped to make cheap," he says. "We're also going to see a lot of work trying to scale the technologies that are needed to reach net zero emissions across the economy. And I think in order to do that, there's going to be a lot of interest, a lot of investment in these options that today are sort of more at a pilot scale."

Listen to our episode on the IPCC's previous February 2022 climate adaptation report here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/ipcc-climate-report-warns 

Listen to our episode on the IPCC's August 2021 report about the scientific basis for climate change here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/in-fighting-climate-change 

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Apr 22, 2022
Why Bank of America says Scope 3 emissions "biggest challenge" for banks
25:50

The world is working to meet ambitious environmental, social and governance targets in the form of the Paris Agreement and the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals. It's clear that banks will play a central role in financing the changes needed to meet these goals. In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we talk with Karen Fang, Global Head of Sustainable Finance at Bank of America, about how one of the largest U.S. banks is approaching sustainability challenges.

In the episode, Karen discusses the bank's goal of deploying and mobilizing $1.5 trillion in sustainable finance by 2030, how Bank of America is working to align SDG and ESG goals, and steps the bank is taking to meet its own net zero goal.

She also talks about the new climate disclosure proposal from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the difficulty of measuring and managing Scope 3 emissions.

"For us, as a bank, the biggest challenge is Scope 3 because that's our entire supply chain and value chain," Karen says. "It really takes all of our clients that we lend money to and invest in to work with us on a credible transition plan to transition to net zero so our financing and investment emissions — which is the biggest contributor of our Scope 3 emissions — can be neutralized over time."

Listen to our recent episode on the SEC’s climate disclosure proposal here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/unpacking-implications-of-the-sec-s-proposed-climate-disclosure-rule

Register for the S&P Global Sustainable1 Summit here: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/sp-global-sustainable1-summit?utm_medium=social&utm_source=podcast&utm_content=ESGInsiderAd

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Bank of America

Apr 15, 2022
How the largest US pension fund uses its financial power to influence corporate ESG performance
29:13

In 2022, the ESG Insider podcast is bringing you a series of interviews with some of the world’s largest asset managers, owners and financial institutions. In this episode, we hear from the largest pension fund in the U.S. — the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS.

We speak to Simiso Nzima, managing investment director of global equity at CalPERS. The conversation focused on five vital sustainability topics — executive pay and its link to ESG performance; board diversity; climate risk; the lack of standardization in ESG metrics; the SEC’s new proposal on climate-related disclosures; and finally, the debate about divestment versus engagement.

To listen to our interview with BlackRock: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/behind-the-scenes-with-blackrock-how-the-worlds/id1475521006?i=1000554510594 

To listen to our interview with State Street Global Advisors: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/state-street-global-advisors-exec-on-climate-accountability/id1475521006?i=1000551552556 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Apr 08, 2022
Unpacking implications of the SEC's proposed climate disclosure rule
42:34

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently unveiled a long-anticipated climate disclosure rulemaking proposal. The proposed rule, which is now open for comment, would require companies to disclose certain climate-related information ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to expected climate risks to transition plans.  

In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore the potentially wide-reaching implications for investors, companies and for climate disclosure globally. 

To help us understand the SEC's proposal as it relates to audit and attestation requirements, we talk with Maura Hodge, who is IMPACT and ESG Audit Leader at professional services firm KPMG. We also learn about the challenges of measuring Scope 3 indirect emissions from our colleague Dr. James Salo, who heads environmental research & ESG modeling at S&P Global Sustainable1.

And to explore legal implications surrounding the proposal, we talk with Mellissa Duru, special counsel at law firm Covington & Burling and co-vice chair of the firm's ESG practice. Mellissa previously worked at the SEC in its Corporate Finance Division and as a lead adviser to former Commissioner Kara Stein on the SEC's ESG-related regulatory policy.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: S&P Global Sustainable1 

Apr 01, 2022
How blue bonds seek to boost marine conservation
20:48

Pollution, over-fishing, coral bleaching and the impact of climate change — the oceans are clearly in trouble. Over the past decade, many more nature-based projects have gotten the support of green financing mechanisms, such as green bonds, but little of that new money has benefited the ocean economy.

To help fix that financing gap between the terrestrial and marine worlds, some banks are experimenting with a new type of financing instrument known as a blue bond. The first such instrument was issued in October 2018, enabling the island nation of Seychelles to offload a portion of its debt in return for increased marine protection. The deal stabilized Seychelle’s debt position, while boosting investment in the local marine economy.

Since then, half a dozen other countries or banks have issued blue bonds, including the World Bank, the Bank of China and the country of Belize. In this episode we speak to Ramzi Issa, a managing director at Swiss bank Credit Suisse, who helped arrange the recent Belize blue bond, which raised $364 million. Part of that money was used to restructure Belize’s debt and part of it is allocated for marine conservation. As Ramzi says, "You're effectively creating funding for these projects through debt relief. So that was kind of a key feature of the transaction when [investors] participated."

For now, blue bonds remain a niche market. But they join other innovative efforts to increase ocean investment flows. In July 2021, for example, we interviewed the marine explore Jacques Cousteau’s grandson, Philippe, who is also working to bring the oceans to ESG investors. Listen to the episode here:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-cousteaus-grandson-is-bringing-oceans-to-esg-investors/id1475521006?i=1000527653970

Both blue bonds and other form of sustainable financing for the oceans could get more attention during the U.N. biodiversity conference known as COP15 being held in China in late April and early May.

Correction: This episode was updated to correct a reference to Credit Suisse, which is a Swiss bank.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Mar 28, 2022
Behind the scenes with BlackRock: How the world’s largest asset manager is engaging with companies
32:37

In his 2022 letter to CEOs, BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink wrote: “Divesting from entire sectors – or simply passing carbon-intensive assets from public markets to private markets – will not get the world to net zero. And BlackRock does not pursue divestment from oil and gas companies as a policy.” 

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we’re talking to the world’s largest asset manager about its approach to engaging with companies, including those in carbon-intensive sectors. We interview Victoria Gaytan, Vice President at BlackRock Investment Stewardship, the team responsible for engaging with companies and for proxy voting on clients’ behalf.  

Victoria tells us about BlackRock’s engagement priorities for 2022, and what to expect from the upcoming proxy season. She also describes how the firm’s expectations of corporate boards are evolving on a range of ESG issues, from diversity to climate change to executive compensation.  

“We look to boards to have a clear understanding of how executive leadership instills the company's strategy and purpose into day-to-day operations, and how it seeks to ensure that corporate culture is experienced as intended across workforce and the company's key stakeholders,” Victoria tells us. 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: BlackRock Inc.

Mar 18, 2022
Behind the scenes with BlackRock: How the world’s largest asset manager is engaging with companies

In his 2022 letter to CEOs, BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink wrote: “Divesting from entire sectors – or simply passing carbon-intensive assets from public markets to private markets – will not get the world to net zero. And BlackRock does not pursue divestment from oil and gas companies as a policy.” 

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we’re talking to the world’s largest asset manager about its approach to engaging with companies, including those in carbon-intensive sectors. We interview Victoria Gaytan, Vice President at BlackRock Investment Stewardship, the team responsible for engaging with companies and for proxy voting on clients’ behalf.  

Victoria tells us about BlackRock’s engagement priorities for 2022, and what to expect from the upcoming proxy season. She also describes how the firm’s expectations of corporate boards are evolving on a range of ESG issues, from diversity to climate change to executive compensation.  

“We look to boards to have a clear understanding of how executive leadership instills the company's strategy and purpose into day-to-day operations, and how it seeks to ensure that corporate culture is experienced as intended across workforce and the company's key stakeholders,” Victoria tells us. 

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: BlackRock Inc.

Mar 18, 2022
IPCC climate report warns: Transformational change is no longer optional
28:34

Companies have two options going forward: transform or be transformed, according to a Feb. 28, 2022, report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

Companies can either make transformational changes now that will help them be resilient to the physical impacts of climate change in the future, or they can continue to be reactive and wait until climate change forces them to transform at an even greater cost, the IPCC finds.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we talk with one of the lead authors of the IPCC report, Dr. Edward Carr, who is also Director of the International Development, Community and Environment Department at Clark University. He was a lead author of the chapter in the IPCC report about climate resilient development pathways, which outlines the role companies and investors can play in adaptation.

The good news, according to Ed, is that companies are well-placed to develop longer-term adaptation plans and find new opportunities for transformation. At the same time, companies cannot do it alone. Governments, the private sector and the public must all work together to adapt to climate change and lower emissions.

Listen to our episode on the IPCC's August 2021 Group I report on the scientific basis for climate change here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/in-fighting-climate-change

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Mar 11, 2022
How the U.K.’s approach to women on boards is improving gender diversity
18:23

Ahead of International Women’s Day, we’re looking at how the U.K. is moving the needle on gender diversity in corporate boardrooms. Many countries have mandatory quotas for the minimum number of women on corporate boards. The U.K., in contrast, adopted a voluntary approach to improve gender balance in the business world. Has it worked? 

In one important sense, yes: Nearly 40% of board seats at the U.K.’s top 100 companies are now filled by women, and notable gains have also been made at the board level of the U.K.’s 350 largest companies, according to a new report. However, there are still very few women CEOs or CFOs in the U.K., and only a third of leadership roles are held by women. 

In this week’s episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we speak to Denise Wilson, Chief Executive of the FTSE Women Leaders Review, which published the report in February. Wilson describes how the decision to routinely and openly publish data naming and shaming companies that fall short of suggested gender-balance targets has acted as a nudge, persuading more businesses to appoint female board directors to meet growing investor and societal expectations on diversity.  

To read more about gender diversity at global companies: https://www.spglobal.com/en/research-insights/featured/women-ceos-covid  

To read more about gender diversity at U.S. companies: https://www.capitaliq.spglobal.com/web/client?auth=inherit#news/article?id=65743394&KeyProductLinkType=6    

To read S&P Global Sustainable1 research on corporate diversity, equity and inclusion policies: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/csa/yearbook/articles/progress-toward-corporate-diversity-requires-more-than-ticked-boxes-and-token-hires   

To subscribe to our new newsletter, The Social Equity & Impact Review: https://spgi-mkto.spglobal.com/Subscribe-The-Social-Equity--Impact-Review.html  

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.hall@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com). 

Photo credit: Getty Images

Mar 07, 2022
How to keep pace with the fast-changing landscape for ESG regulation, standards
27:45

If you listened to our bonus episode of the ESG Insider podcast last week, you know we were on the ground attending GreenBiz, one of the largest sustainability conferences in the U.S. that brought together about 1,300 sustainability professionals.

A big theme we heard at the event is that sustainability is accelerating rapidly — and that change is especially pronounced in the evolving landscape for standard-setting bodies and disclosure regulations.

At the conference, we sat down with one of those standard setters to discuss the big developments afoot: Katie Schmitz Eulitt, Director of Investor Relationships at the Value Reporting Foundation, formerly the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB.

"There's excitement about the harmonization that is happening in this space and maybe a little frustration about, 'well, why can't we just get it done now — why do we have to wait?'" Katie says. "But I think we've come so far so fast that some of us are kind of pinching ourselves."

We also talk with Kristen Sullivan, who is Sustainability and ESG Services Leader at Deloitte. Kristen moderated a panel at the conference titled "The SEC Homes in on ESG," and in the episode she tells us what to expect in the near term from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when it comes to climate and human capital management disclosure rules. "It's a matter of when, not if, the regulators are really putting that definition around disclosure expectations," Kristen tells us.

And to hear what all these changes look like in practice for companies, we sat down with Jaclyn Allen, Director of Sustainability at fashion company Guess. "The investor community is really concerned about climate, and they want to know that the company that they're investing in has a long-term view for the business as a whole," she says.

S&P Global Sustainable1 was a sponsor of the GreenBiz conference. Listen to the bonus episode, featuring an interview with GreenBiz Group Chariman and Co-Founder Joel Makower: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bonus-episode-a-sneak-peek-at-greenbiz-one-of/id1475521006?i=1000551417128

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 25, 2022
State Street Global Advisors exec on climate accountability and engagement in 2022
25:01

State Street Global Advisors, the world's third-largest provider of exchange-traded funds, is expecting more action and transparency from companies in 2022 on climate change and social issues – and it wants to use its influence to drive that change.

"We view divestment as the last resort," says Karen Wong, who is Global Head of ESG and Sustainable Investing at State Street Global Advisors. "We do believe overall that it's absolutely important to have the voting and engagement in our toolkit to drive changes."

In 2022, the ESG Insider podcast will be talking with large asset managers around the world about their policies and practices on key ESG topics because they can play a critical role in pressing companies to review and address those issues.

In this episode, Karen outlines some of the circumstances under which State Street Global Advisors would vote against a company's directors, the new expectations the asset manager is setting for climate and workforce diversity-related disclosures, and how the firm is handling evolving regulations, including the EU's Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, or SFDR.,

Listen to our related podcast episode that explores what SFDR is and why it's important: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/eu-revolutionizes

We'd love to hear from you! To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: State Street Global Advisors

Feb 18, 2022
Bonus episode: A sneak peek at GreenBiz, one of the biggest US sustainability conferences
23:32

In this bonus episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we're taking you on the road to the big U.S. sustainability conference GreenBiz22.

We sit down with Joel Makower, who is Chairman and Co-Founder of GreenBiz Group, which produces the three-day event bringing together sustainability professionals from many of the largest U.S. companies.

The event is an opportunity to take the pulse of the corporate world on topics ranging from net zero to biodiversity to social equity. As Joel tells us in the interview, it's also a chance to hear how a diverse group of companies across sectors are handling the explosive growth in the ESG movement.

"All of a sudden, this function within companies that used to be kind of a backwater — sustainability — is now sitting there on Wall Street and sitting there in the boardroom in some fashion in most companies, and that's created a whole new dynamic. So it's a very exciting moment," Joel says.

It's also a "be careful what you wish for" moment, Joel says: "This is the moment where all of a sudden, everybody wants a piece of you."

Tune in to the podcast next week for more interviews on the ground at the conference.

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 17, 2022
How one of the world’s largest insurers is tackling climate change
26:25

Climate change is driving up insurance-related losses on a global scale even as homeowners, businesses and communities around the world continue to build in hazard-prone areas such as those that experience frequent flooding or storm damage.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we examine how one of the world’s largest insurers is tackling rising risks from climate change in an interview with Ernst Rauch, Chief Climate and Geo Scientist and Head of the Climate Solutions Unit at Munich Re.

A recent report from the German insurance company found that natural disasters around the world caused about $280 billion in damages in 2021. About $120 billion of those damages involved assets covered by insurance — up from $82 billion in 2020 and $57 billion in 2019.

Ernst explains that there is ample data available to help the insurance industry make informed decisions about exposure to different kinds of climate risks. But this information is not always easily accessible to the public.

“The issue is how to bring this information to the people, to the citizens and to the businesses,” he says.

Listen to our episode on record rainfall in 2021 that caused deadly flooding in Western Europe: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/record-floods-highlight-climate-risks-to-business-in/id1475521006?i=1000530552007

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 11, 2022
How one of the world’s largest insurers is tackling climate change

Climate change is driving up insurance-related losses on a global scale even as homeowners, businesses and communities around the world continue to build in hazard-prone areas such as those that experience frequent flooding or storm damage.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we examine how one of the world’s largest insurers is tackling rising risks from climate change in an interview with Ernst Rauch, Chief Climate and Geo Scientist and Head of the Climate Solutions Unit at Munich Re.

A recent report from the German insurance company found that natural disasters around the world caused about $280 billion in damages in 2021. About $120 billion of those damages involved assets covered by insurance — up from $82 billion in 2020 and $57 billion in 2019.

Ernst explains that there is ample data available to help the insurance industry make informed decisions about exposure to different kinds of climate risks. But this information is not always easily accessible to the public.

“The issue is how to bring this information to the people, to the citizens and to the businesses,” he says.

Listen to our episode on record rainfall in 2021 that caused deadly flooding in Western Europe: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/record-floods-highlight-climate-risks-to-business-in/id1475521006?i=1000530552007

We'd love to hear from you. To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 11, 2022
Why a siloed approach to ESG won’t fly in 2022
14:33

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore a key theme emerging at the center of the ESG movement in 2022: That’s the idea that environmental, social and governance factors should not be considered in isolation, but rather should be understood in relation to each other.

In the episode we speak to Dr. Richard Mattison, who is President of S&P Global Sustainable1 and a member of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, or TNFD. Richard talks about the need to tie together the net zero, nature and social agendas.

“We can't achieve a transition to a net zero economy without also being a nature-positive transition and a just transition,” he says.

Listen to our episode on the International Sustainability Standards Board, or ISSB: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/standard-setters-work-to-close

Listen to our episode on the TNFD: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/the-new-task-force-in-town

Read the full report from S&P Global about the key trends that will drive the ESG agenda in 2022: https://www.spglobal.com/esg/insights/key-esg-trends-in-2022

We'd love to hear from you! To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 04, 2022
What the gas and nuclear debate around the EU taxonomy means for investors
26:24

At the beginning of January 2022, a key element of the EU’s sustainable finance policy came into effect — the green taxonomy, a kind of dictionary of sustainable activities. Investors must now disclose how their funds meet taxonomy climate-related requirements, while large companies need to report on how much of their business is in line with the taxonomy.

But an ongoing debate over whether natural gas and nuclear power should be included in the tool is overshadowing the taxonomy’s introduction. The EU announced at the New Year that it had begun consultations on including gas and nuclear after delaying a decision earlier in 2021 following pressure from sustainable investors, activists, and its own expert advisory group. The bloc faces pressure to avoid making countries that are highly dependent on fossil fuels feel they are being left behind in the transition. Meanwhile, critics say the EU risks hurting its reputation as a global leader in sustainable finance regulation.

To find out how investors are viewing the debate, we speak to Rachel Ward, policy programme director at the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which represents more than €50 trillion of assets under management and has called on the EU to exclude gas from the taxonomy. “Gas cannot meet the prescribed requirements included in the taxonomy. To do so would be misleading,” she tells us in this episode of ESG Insider.

We also speak to Matthias Fawer, a senior analyst for ESG & Impact Assessment at Vontobel Asset Management, who says the proposal to include nuclear and gas in the taxonomy comes during the “difficult and delicate” transition period that is taking place until renewables can replace fossil fuels. And Alexander Lehmann, head of the Sustainable World Academy at Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, tells us that the proposal adds complications and potential risks for investors.

To learn more about the EU’s green taxonomy, listen to our earlier episode here: https://soundcloud.com/esginsider/defining-green-what-investors

We'd love to hear from you! To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jan 28, 2022
US climate-related disasters cost $145 billion in 2021 and more ahead, scientists say
19:08

In 2021, the world saw many major climate-related disasters ranging from wildfires, to flooding and hurricanes.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, recently released its annual climate trends report, providing an important snapshot of the physical risks from climate change in the U.S. The report also puts a price tag on those risks: U.S. weather and climate-related disasters reached $145 billion in 2021.

In this episode of ESG Insider, Climatologist Karin Gleason of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information explains how climate change is amplifying extreme weather events by making them happen more often, last longer, and cause more damage.

And Karin's colleague, Climatologist Adam Smith, says 2021 further proves that the world must both adapt to the physical risks of climate change and mitigate future impacts by curbing greenhouse gas emissions. As for physical risks, "it's a socioeconomic question about how can we make ourselves more resilient collectively, whether it's the individual level, homeowner level, a town, even at the state and the federal levels."

We'd love to hear from you! To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jan 21, 2022
What the EU aims to achieve with its carbon border tax proposal
28:48

The EU proposed a carbon border adjustment mechanism in 2021 as part of a broad climate package designed to reduce carbon emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. This mechanism — widely known as ‘CBAM' — would put a tariff on imports of carbon-intensive goods.

The proposed regulation aims to prevent EU-based companies from moving production to other jurisdictions with less stringent climate regulation (also known as ‘carbon leakage'). It also aims to avoid imports of carbon-intensive products to the detriment of EU companies. CBAM will be phased in from 2023 if approved by the European Parliament and EU member states, so companies are already putting measures in place to ensure they adhere to the potential new rules, says Yaroslav Alekseyev, a partner at law firm Linklaters, in this episode of the ESG Insider podcast.

Some experts believe CBAM will encourage other jurisdictions to set carbon prices.

“If a company from a country outside of the EU wants to export products into the European Union market, they will have pay that CBAM at the border if they don't have a domestic carbon price that is high enough," says Sanjay Patnaik, director of the Center on Regulation and Markets at Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Brookings Institution. "That could really set incentives around the world.”

But some industrial sectors are not convinced. We hear tom Emanuele Manigrassi, the public affairs manager at trade group European Aluminium, who says the aluminium sector does not believe CBAM will support low-carbon production. His organization is calling for CBAM to be tested before it is introduced.

We'd love to hear from you! To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact hosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com).

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jan 18, 2022
ESG experts are watching these sustainability trends in 2022
29:23

To welcome the New Year, we hear from experts across the ESG world about what sustainability trends they are watching in 2022.

Our guests in this episode of ESG Insider include Curtis Ravenel, who is Secretariat for the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and senior adviser to former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. We also talk with the Head of Global Sustainability Research at Morgan Stanley, and the Head of Energy and Environment Transition at French bank BNP Paribas. And we hear from an activist investment firm in the U.S. that has been pressing companies to perform racial equity audits.

Themes we cover include the importance of holding financial institutions accountable for decarbonization pledges, the outlook for sweeping change in biodiversity disclosure and data, and rising investor pressure on companies to address social inequities.

Here are links to our most popular episodes from 2021:

https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/at-cop26-why-article-6-matters-to-companies-and-investors

https://www.spglobal.com/esg/podcasts/goldman-sachs-executive-on-demystifying-measuring-the-s-in-esg

We'd love to hear from you! To give us feedback on this episode or share ideas for future episodes, please contact cohosts Lindsey Hall (lindsey.white@spglobal.com) and Esther Whieldon (esther.whieldon@spglobal.com)

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jan 07, 2022
Climate must factor into ‘every financial transaction,’ says Just Climate Chairman
31:53

In this year’s final episode of ESG Insider, we talk with David Blood about two big sustainability issues impacting the financial sector as we head into 2022: Plugging the climate financing gap, and aligning investment portfolios with Paris Agreement goals.

David is a senior partner at Generation Investment Management, the sustainable investment firm he founded with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. David tells us about the strategy behind Just Climate, a new venture Generation Investment Management launched in October 2021 to tackle the net zero challenge at scale.

"To achieve our goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees C, every financial transaction must take climate into consideration," David says in the interview. "I don't believe yet that the asset owner community or the asset manager community fully embrace that, have fully internalized that notion."

He also talks about his role leading the Portfolio Alignment Team. This group was created in 2020 by Mark Carney in his capacity as U.N. Special Envoy for Climate in response to rising interest from investors and lenders in measuring how portfolios align with Paris Agreement goals. The Portfolio Alignment Team published its latest report shortly before COP26.

In this episode, we also speak with Carter Powis, a consultant with McKinsey who led the firm’s support of the team.

"Knowledge of portfolio alignment tools is still in a very nascent state across the financial sector," Carter says. "As a result, there are some pervasive misunderstandings about what these tools are and why they're important."

Photo credit: Generation Investment Management

Dec 21, 2021
Defining net zero: How to turn pledges into concrete action
26:56

'Net zero’ was a buzzword in the sustainability world in 2021, but big questions remain about what this term really means.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we'll hear how the Science Based Targets initiative, or SBTi, is defining net zero in its newly released corporate standard. And to understand the challenges the financial sector faces in defining and achieving net zero targets, we talk to Curtis Ravenel, who is senior adviser to Mark Carney — the former Bank of England Governor who now acts as U.N. special envoy on climate finance. 

We'll also hear from Jeanne Martin, senior campaign manager at U.K.-based investor activist group ShareAction, about where European banks stand and why they need to make significant progress toward their net zero goals by 2030.  

To learn more about the extent to which big corporations in multiple sectors are setting net zero targets, read an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence:  https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/path-to-net-zero-stakeholders-demand-action-on-ambitions-as-pledges-swell-67951124

Photo credit: Getty Images

Dec 17, 2021
How 2 new technologies could pave the road to net-zero
30:53

In this final episode of our miniseries on emerging technologies that can help companies achieve net zero emissions by mid-century, we're examining two cutting-edge projects for the agricultural, mining and road construction industries. 

In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore how scientists in California are using a new technology called enhanced weathering to help the farming and mining industries become part of the climate solution. 

We also hear how Spanish energy and infrastructure company Acciona is working with the paper industry to help decarbonize the process for making roads. 

Photo credit: Getty Image 

Dec 10, 2021
How whisky, yoga pants and a trash burning plant are helping tackle climate change
38:36

What do Glenfiddich whisky, yoga pants and a trash-burning waste-to-heat plant in Europe have in common? They’re all part of efforts to use emerging technologies to tackle climate change. 

As companies and countries around the world pursue net zero targets, one big question is: How do you ensure the carbon removal technologies we will need 20 to 30 years down the road are available, affordable and easily scaled?

In this episode of ESG Insider, we bring you the second part in our miniseries about emerging climate technologies. We hear how Scotch whisky maker Glenfiddich uses a part of its distillery process to power delivery trucks. We explore how biotech company LanzaTech is using bacteria to recycle gases into ethanol that is used to create everything from yoga pants to shampoo bottles to low-carbon aviation fuels.  

And lastly, we learn how Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste-to-energy trash-burning plant in Norway is being converted to capture carbon emissions and send them to be permanently stored deep under the North Sea. This technology is often referred to as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, and can be used to help tackle climate change when done in a sustainable manner. 

Photo credit: William Grant & Sons 

Dec 03, 2021
Direct Air Capture: A high-tech fix for climate change?
20:59

Can a global array of CO2-sucking machines save us from the worst ravages of climate change? This episode is the first in an ESG Insider miniseries about new carbon-removal technology. This week we examine a method called Direct Air Capture, or DAC Right now, DAC is expensive and only at the nascent stages of development. But there’s growing support from entrepreneurs and some large companies to deploy the approach on an industrial scale.

In this episode, we interview Steve Oldham, CEO of a Canadian company called Carbon Engineering, which is building a giant carbon-sucking plant in America’s oil-rich Permian Basin. Oldham explains how the technology works; why his company almost shut its doors; and why it now has the backing of Bill Gates and a host of fossil fuel companies, including Occidental, BHP and Chevron.

We also talk to Daniel Egger, Chief Commercial Officer of Swiss firm Climeworks. The clean tech company recently switched on the world’s largest DAC plant in Iceland. A smaller DAC plant run by Climeworks in Switzerland already sells the CO2 it extracts to greenhouses and to Coca-Cola, which uses the gas to put the fizz in its namesake drink.

Our third guest is Stuart Haszeldine of the University of Edinburgh, which describes him as the world’s first official professor of carbon capture and storage. Haszeldine explains how DAC technology can help remove the large volumes of CO2 that humans have pumped into the air since the Industrial Revolution. He also points out that, despite recent progress on DAC technology, most politicians and policymakers have yet to back the idea because it “seems to promise magic out of thin air.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

Nov 26, 2021
At COP26, connecting the climate and nature agendas
31:55

Protecting biodiversity and adopting nature-based solutions: Both play a critical role in addressing climate change and therefore cannot be ignored. This is a key theme we heard repeated at COP26, the U.N.’s big climate conference that took place in Glasgow over the first two weeks of November.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore the emerging dialogue on climate change and nature-based considerations. For example, 92% of country climate pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, submitted for COP26 included nature in their plans, Capitals Coalition CEO Mark Gough tells us. The Capitals Coalition advocates for companies to identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on natural capital, social capital and human capital.

"Climate change is a driver for nature change," says Mark. "But also, nature can help to drive the changes that we want to see in the climate to make improvements there."

In this episode, we also talk with Sarah Bratton Hughes, Global Head of Sustainability Solutions at UK-based asset management firm Schroders. She outlines how the firm is moving to reduce deforestation risks in its portfolios.

And we'll hear how hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as steel and chemicals use nature to help meet their climate targets from Anthony Hobley, who is co-executive director of the Mission Possible Platform, a partnership between the World Economic Forum and the Energy Transitions Commission.

For further coverage of COP26, listen to the podcast episode on Article 6 here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/at-cop26-why-article-6-matters-to-companies-and-investors/id1475521006?i=1000539436647

And listen to the podcast episode where we interviewed the co-chair of the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, or TNFD, here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-new-task-force-in-town-tnfd-co-chair-talks/id1475521006?i=1000528412510

Photo credit: Getty Images

Nov 19, 2021
Inside COP26: Chaos, optimism, progress
32:37

There have been a lot of headlines coming out of COP26, the big United Nations climate conference that took place in Glasgow the first two weeks of November. In this episode of ESG Insider, we bring you inside the event through interviews with COP attendees. 

We hear about the mood on the ground: chaotic, but with an overriding sense of optimism that the world can make progress toward the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C relative to preindustrial levels. 

“For the first time, that target seemed to be in reach,” says Mike Wilkins, Head of Sustainable Finance Research at S&P Global Ratings and a member of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, who has attended many previous iterations of COP.

Part of that sense of progress came from the growing presence of the financial sector at COP. 

“The finance sector was really clearly present and active, and communicating the need for financial institutions to take account of climate change. And that was a new part of the dynamic this year,” says Divya Mankikar, Global Head of ESG Market Engagement at S&P Global Sustainable1. 

We saw many private sector pledges during COP26, including an announcement from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, or GFANZ, that financial institutions representing $130 trillion of assets have committed to Paris Agreement goals. We should celebrate that progress, says James Vaccaro, Executive Director of the Climate Safe Lending Network, a group with the goal of bringing international bank lending in line with the Paris Agreement. 

“A few years ago, if anyone was really talking seriously about large global banks making net zero carbon commitments … it would have been seen as quite fringe or radical,” James tells us.

But he says there is more work to do. “Once you do have people in the tent … you want to move very quickly from a situation of normalized best practice into raising the bar for everyone.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

Nov 12, 2021
COP26 climate commitments send “clear signal” on how banks should finance transition
29:57

The 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is well underway in Glasgow. A big theme during the first week of the conference was the financial sector’s role in addressing climate change.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we talk to Samu Slotte, global head of sustainable finance at Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank by assets. Samu talks about Danske Bank’s recent decision to join the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, a group of banks committed to aligning the greenhouse gas emissions of their lending and investment portfolios with net zero by 2050 or sooner, in line with the Paris Agreement.

A challenge being discussed at COP26 is ensuring adequate climate financing makes its way to developing nations. “The overarching picture is that there's plenty of cash around looking for suitable investments,” Samu says. But he warns that the money is just not getting where it is needed. “The cash seems to be stuck in proven technologies in stable jurisdictions.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

Nov 05, 2021
2021 proxy season marked “new era” of shareholder support for ESG issues
17:09

The 2021 proxy season brought a new level of shareholder support for key ESG-related themes ranging from climate change to diversity disclosures.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we talk to Sustainable Investments Institute founding executive director Heidi Welsh.

“We've entered a whole new era” of shareholder support for ESG issues, Heidi tells us.

“Investors want more information on climate change, on diversity and inclusion, on corporate political influence,” she says.

For additional information about the 2021 proxy season, listen to our episode on the implications of shareholders' ouster of several Exxon Mobil board members: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/exxon-board-ouster-over-climate-change-has-big-implications/id1475521006?i=1000524283710

And you can also find all our coverage of COP26 at http://spglobal.com/cop26

Photo credit: Getty Images

Oct 29, 2021
At COP26, why Article 6 matters to companies and investors 
24:27

At COP26 in Glasgow in the first two weeks of November, government officials from around the world will gather to discuss plans for achieving the Paris agreement on climate change. A key issue on the table is Article 6, which involves international cooperation through carbon markets.  

In this episode of ESG Insider, we talk with Kelley Kizzier, who was a lead Article 6 negotiator at previous COP gatherings, including in 2015 when countries reached the Paris agreement on climate change. Kelley, who is currently vice president for global climate at the Environmental Defense Fund, also recently joined the board of directors of the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets. 

Kelley explains why Article 6 matters to companies and investors. She also outlines how Article 6 could affect voluntary carbon markets, where companies buy carbon credits to help meet their net zero goals. 

To learn more about carbon markets and the role of Article 6, listen to the latest episode of the Platts Future Energy podcast from our colleagues at S&P Global Platts. https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/podcasts/platts-future-energy/101221-cop26-paris-agreement-article-6-voluntary-carbon-markets-carbon-footprint-emissions 

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Oct 22, 2021
Morgan Stanley exec on net zero: 'We can't just wait 30 years and see what happens’
21:53

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we talk to Jessica Alsford, Head of Global Sustainability Research at Morgan Stanley. In the run-up to COP26, the big United Nations climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November 2021, there has been a lot of discussion in the sustainability world about the path to net zero and the role the financial industry will play in reaching the goals of the Paris agreement.

In the interview, Jessica talks about what needs to happen at COP26 to move companies beyond their headline net zero commitments into specific and transparent action plans.

“We can't just wait 30 years and see what happens,” Jessica says. “So now, what comes next is [companies providing] that granularity, that visibility, about what are the specific actions” they are taking to achieve their end goal.

"Investors are looking for annual disclosure and reporting on progress so that you can very clearly see which companies are decarbonizing and at what rate,” she adds.

Jessica also says the lack of standardization in sustainability disclosure frameworks poses challenges for the ESG world. Still, she says, the direction of travel is clear: “You need more data in order to be able to make the ESG investment decisions.”

Photo credit: Morgan Stanley

Oct 15, 2021
How an EU social taxonomy could bring clarity to "S" in ESG
29:59

The coronavirus pandemic and a growing awareness of social risks have thrust the ‘S’ in ESG into sharper focus for many sustainability-minded companies and investors.

Issuance of social bonds — debt instruments that raise money for things like affordable housing, health and education — surged nine-fold to $165 billion dollars in 2020 from the previous year, according to data from Environmental Finance, a global sustainable finance news and analysis provider. And as that market expands, investors are seeking clear guidance on social investment definitions.

The European Union has already developed a green taxonomy, or a classification system of sustainable businesses and sectors. In this episode of ESG Insider, we look at the potential social taxonomy the EU has proposed to help define the ‘S.’

“We've got a good understanding of the E,” says Victor van Hoorn, executive director at Eurosif, a European forum that promotes sustainable investment. “We're more or less starting with a blank sheet of paper when we're talking about the ‘S.’”

Check out our episode on the green taxonomy here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/defining-green-what-investors-need-to-know-about-the/id1475521006?i=1000531954636

Photo credit: Getty Images 

Oct 08, 2021
Goldman Sachs executive on demystifying, measuring the ‘S’ in ESG
29:28

Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen companies, investors and regulators put a growing emphasis on the ‘S’ in ESG. But there is still a common refrain in the ESG world that social issues are nebulous or difficult to measure.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we hear how one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. is tackling the ‘S’ and making it measurable.

"The 'S' does get less focus,” says Asahi Pompey, Global Head of Corporate Engagement at Goldman Sachs. “People still think it's kind of amorphous. What exactly is the ‘S’? Is it in hiring? Is it in retention? Is it recruiting? Is it investments in communities? Here's the answer: It's all of those."

Asahi talks about how Goldman Sachs is adapting its internal policies, its investment approach and its business models with the ‘S’ in mind. For example, earlier this year, the company launched its One Million Black Women initiative, committing more than $10 billion to advance racial equity and economic opportunity by investing in Black women. And in 2020, Goldman Sachs announced that it would stop underwriting IPOs for companies in the U.S. and Europe that don’t have diverse boards.

In the interview, Asahi also talks about corporate America’s changing approach to social issues broadly and racial equity in particular. But she cautions that those changes could be short-lived if society does not keep the issue on the front burner.

“Corporate America has a long way to go in order to drive sustained progress on the 'S,'” Asahi says. “Now, we've seen commitments across the industry and various sectors. That being said … it can't be episodic, and it has to be sustained, and it has to be measurable. We all know things get done when they're measured.”

Photo credit: Goldman Sachs

Oct 01, 2021
How The Big Apple is taking on the carbon footprint from buildings
20:00

In this special New York Climate Week episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore how the built environment – new building construction plus existing offices, apartment blocks, airports and other structures – is responsible for nearly 40% of all global carbon dioxide emissions, and what it will take to decarbonize this vast sector.

In the episode, we interview three experts on the subject: Mark Reynolds, CEO of Mace Group, a large construction company focused on making buildings more sustainable; John Mandyck, CEO of a non-profit in New York City called Urban Green Council; and Dana Schneider, director of energy and sustainability at the Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the Empire State Building in New York, an iconic structure that has made significant headway in lowering its carbon footprint.

Lowering the carbon footprint of the built environment is a massive task. Although building emissions reached their highest level in 2019, many cities have not yet embarked on sizable decarbonization plans. Some landlords could have to spend millions to retrofit buildings. Construction companies are under pressure to use less carbon-intensive materials. Homeowners are being prodded to spend money to make homes energy efficient. And investors with face the challenge of assessing the transition risk. 

That helps to explain why at least three panel discussions at this week’s NY Climate Week were devoted to carbon emissions from the built environment, and why the big UN COP26 climate conference this fall will similarly dedicate an entire day to the subject.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Sep 24, 2021
Pulling back the curtain on the promise of low-carbon hydrogen
31:49
When we talk about the technologies the world will need to tackle climate change, low-carbon hydrogen is increasingly part of the discussion. Two recent studies raise some big questions about whether some of these hydrogen technologies are as climate-friendly as proponents claim.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we look at the research and development of blue hydrogen, which is derived from natural gas and paired with carbon-capturing technology to reduce the resulting emissions. And we also examine what role green hydrogen, which is created using renewable generation to separate water molecules, could play.

We talk with the authors of those two recent studies and we hear from a hydrogen expert at a European research institute about the current state of the industry and what role the government is playing in promoting these technologies.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Sep 17, 2021
How green banks can accelerate climate finance
27:38

There’s a massive gap between the amount of investment needed to make the climate transition happen and what is occurring today. In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore the role that green banks can play in plugging that funding gap.

Green banks can differ in scope and approach but are generally created to leverage government funds to mobilize private investment in clean and resilient infrastructure on the local scale. They exist in many parts of the world, including Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Switzerland, the U.S. and the U.K.

In the episode, we’ll hear from Reed Hundt, co-founder, chairman and CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital, which has helped organize a number of green banks and is pressing the U.S. Congress to create a federal green bank. And we’ll look at how the first state-level green bank in the U.S. — the Connecticut Green Bank — has evolved since forming in 2011.

We talk with Connecticut Green Bank President and CEO Bryan Garcia, who tells us: “Our goal is to demonstrate to the ... capital markets that this is a safe area of investment, and we're willing to put our capital at risk in front of you to do that.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

Sep 10, 2021
What Nasdaq’s diversity rule tells us about the direction of disclosure in the US
22:17

In early August, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved a proposal by Nasdaq to require companies listed on the New York-based exchange to disclose certain board diversity information. In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore what the rule means in practice for companies and investors.

We hear from Matt Patsky, the CEO of Trillium Asset Management, about why investors view board diversity as a material factor — and what the SEC approval indicates about the direction of disclosure in the U.S.

“The SEC's willingness to approve this Nasdaq board diversity rule sends a strong signal that they believe there's materiality to diversity,” Matt says. “And with that belief, I think it means we're moving closer to the SEC mandating disclosure of diversity information from companies broadly.”

For the corporate and regulatory perspective, we talk with Cam Hoang, a corporate securities and SEC compliance lawyer and partner at the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. We also hear the recruiter’s perspective on the new rule from WSS Executive Search CEO & Founder Becky Heidesch, who has been helping companies find candidates with diverse profiles for decades.

In the episode, you’ll hear us refer to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of gender diversity on U.S. company boards and executive teams. You can read that research here:

https://platform.mi.spglobal.com/web/client?auth=inherit#news/article?id=65743394&cdid=A-65743394-9776

To learn more about human capital management disclosures in the U.S., listen to this earlier episode of ESG Insider:

https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/esginsider/ESG_Insider_US_Diversity_Regulations_-_v3.mp3

Photo credit: Getty Images

Sep 03, 2021
In fighting climate change, major IPCC report finds every little bit matters
25:20

A sobering new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells corporations and governments in no uncertain terms: Act with urgency to lower emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change at a more rapid pace and bigger scale.

In this episode of ESG Insider, we look at the implications of the IPCC report for investors and companies, and we talk to two scientists who helped write the nearly 4,000-page document to better understand its key findings.

Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist with the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and one of the report’s authors, says incremental changes can make a big difference — for better or for worse.

“Every little bit matters,” says Claudia. "This is in the bad sense that every little bit of warming is making the situation worse, but also that every little thing that we can make to slow down and stop [global warming] is going to matter.”

We also talk to Kirsten Spalding, senior director for the investor network at Ceres, on how the lPCC’s latest findings will shape future investor engagement with companies on climate change.

The report shows that “the need for action is even on a shorter timeline than we knew before,” Kirsten says.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Aug 27, 2021
TCFD gains momentum as climate reporting shifts from voluntary to mandatory
14:42

Several countries will soon make it mandatory for large companies and asset managers to calculate and publicly report their climate-related risks. It’s a complex accounting challenge and many businesses aren't fully prepared.

The governments of the U.K., New Zealand, Hong Kong and Switzerland, as well as the G7 group of nations, are among those backing mandatory reporting under the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, framework. The push towards compulsory TCFD reporting will put pressure on banks, businesses and asset managers that have yet to embrace such disclosure.

A big reason why many companies struggle with TCFD implementation is because it's hard to collect, collate and analyze detailed emissions-related data in all areas of their operations. Companies also need to train their employees on technical aspects of reporting under the framework. Above all, TCFD implementation must be roundly embraced and instilled — all the way from the C-suite to product and client-teams — and that takes time.

In this episode, we speak to Thora Frost, senior manager of green finance at the Carbon Trust, a London-based consulting firm that works on climate change and sustainability issues. And we interview Matthew Townsend, partner at U.K. law firm Allen & Overy.

"You have a blizzard of regulation and policy coming down the line, certainly over the next five years, and I don't see it letting up in many jurisdictions," Townsend says.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Aug 20, 2021
Defining green: What investors need to know about the EU taxonomy
20:19

If you’ve been following sustainability headlines over the past few years, chances are you’ve heard about the EU’s green taxonomy — essentially, a dictionary that defines how sustainable a business or sector is. It assesses more than 100 economic activities and is designed to steer companies as they adapt their business strategies to climate change, as well as help investment funds judge sectors based on their environmental performance. Investors will also have to disclose what percentage of their investments are in line with the taxonomy.

The new regulation is expected to radically change how investors and companies report on their environmental performance. It will be enforced from 2022, which does not leave investors a lot of time to get up to speed. And the taxonomy is not quite finalized, with further regulation expected in 2023 — creating some big challenges for investors trying to navigate the changing sustainability landscape.

To talk us through what investors can expect from the taxonomy, we spoke to Helena Viñes Fiestas, commissioner at Spain’s Financial Markets Authority. She’s also rapporteur of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, a body of experts from industry, finance and civil society who advise the EU’s executive arm on the future of sustainable finance policy in Europe.

“I like to compare it a little bit with food products,” Helena says of the taxonomy. “If you market your product as low fat, it's only fair to ask how much fat it has and whether or not it's too much. This is exactly the same, where the taxonomy becomes the recommended daily intake.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

Aug 13, 2021
‘Unfathomable’: Why US investors, regulators are rethinking human capital management disclosures
19:15

Wall Street’s top regulator, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is in the early stages of creating a number of new ESG-related disclosure rules, including on the issue of human capital management.  

Human capital management refers to the way that companies manage their workforce. It includes things like a company’s approach to hiring, recruitment, pay and benefits, and the working conditions a company provides. Right now, public corporate disclosures on these topics are voluntary in the U.S. But many investors say that leads to insufficient and inconsistent data. 

“I think it’s unfathomable that, in this day and age, the only metric that companies are currently required to disclose is the number of people that they employ — especially when we talk to every company and they tell us that their human capital is their most important asset,” says Aeisha Mastagni, a portfolio manager in the sustainable investment and strategies group at the California State Teachers' Retirement System, one of the largest public pension funds in the U.S. “And yet we as investors have no way to measure that, benchmark that, compare it to other companies in our portfolio.” 

In this episode, we explore the changing state of human capital data disclosure in the U.S., why some investors want disclosures to become mandatory, and what to expect from the SEC.  

We also talk to securities and governance lawyers at the Philadelphia-based law firm Dechert and with Bryan McGannon, director of policy and programs at US SIF: the forum for responsible and sustainable investment.

Aug 06, 2021
Record floods highlight climate risks to business in Europe's richest nations
14:42
In mid-July 2021, the heaviest rainfall in a century triggered intense flash floods and inundated several towns in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, causing at least 188 deaths. The floods in Europe are a reminder that although emerging markets are likely to be hit hardest by a temperature rise, richer countries in the northern hemisphere are far from immune from the effects of severe weather.
 
In this episode, we talk with experts to understand the biggest climate risks facing Europe's biggest economies, analyzing physical risk data from S&P Global Trucost.
 
Guests on the episode include Irene Lauro, an economist with asset manager Schroders; and Swenja Surminski who leads adaptation research at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. And we talk to Berenberg Bank analyst Michael Huttner about how the floods could impact insurance companies.
Jul 30, 2021
CSRD: EU's latest proposed addition to alphabet soup of sustainability regulation
16:48
The EU is working to reform its Non-Financial Reporting Directive, regulation introduced in 2014 requiring large companies to report on environmental and social issues, such as the impact of climate change on their business and the diversity of its board. The proposed new rules, called the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), would expand the reporting requirements and drastically increase the number of companies disclosing this information. CSRD would also make auditing of companies’ sustainability reports obligatory.
 
Corporations, regulators and investors increasingly recognize that environmental, social and governance risks need to be accounted for alongside financial risks when valuing a company. Investors are seeking consistent data and standards to guide them in their investment decisions around ESG factors.

In this episode, we speak to Saskia Slomp, CEO of European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, or EFRAG, which advises the EU on the use of accounting standards within the bloc and which was asked by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to develop proposals for the new directive.

“The development of mandatory common sustainability reporting standards is necessary to progress to a situation in which sustainability information has a status comparable to that of financial information,” she tells us. “So many companies receive additional information requests for sustainability information from stakeholders."
 
Photo credit: Getty Images
 
Related past podcast episodes: 
 
 
 
 
Jul 23, 2021
What EU's proposed green bond standards could mean for market
18:43
The EU has proposed a European Green Bond Standard as part of its strategy to drive investment into sustainable finance and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The new rules will also aim to protect investors from greenwashing, which is when an investment is made to sound greener than it is.

Although they represent a tiny fraction of the overall debt market, green bonds — debt that finances environmentally friendly projects such as wind farms or solar power — have grown rapidly over the last eight years, from virtually nothing in 2012 to nearly $300 billion in 2020. The EU is counting on further growth in the market to meet the targets in its European Green Deal, designed to mobilize at least €1 trillion of sustainable investment over the next 10 years. The rules will be tougher than other existing green bond guidelines because issuers will have to prove their green bonds are financing projects in line with the EU's "green taxonomy," a dictionary of sustainable activities.

In this episode, we speak to Climate Bonds Initiative CEO Sean Kidney, who was part of an advisory group that helped shape the new rules. Regulation has “been right from the beginning, a feature of the development of the market. Issuers have followed the regulations, and it's grown to be a very large successful market,” he tells us.
 
Listen to our episode on the EU's green taxonomy: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5b3qx805nauyVGvcJo9Wsr
 
Photo credit: Getty Images
Jul 16, 2021
The new task force in town: TNFD co-chair talks biodiversity goals
17:39

The world’s biodiversity is in peril and its loss poses big financial risks to businesses and the global economy. More than half of the world's economic output — or about $44 trillion — is moderately or highly dependent on nature, according to the World Economic Forum. Moreover, the collapse of biodiverse ecosystems could hurt global GDP by $2.7 trillion annually by 2030, the World Bank warns in a new report.

Until recently, biodiversity loss was rarely viewed as a substantial risk to corporations. But that is changing and a new task force has been formed to help companies and financial institutions better understand the scope of the risk. The Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, or TNFD, aims to create a voluntary framework that companies can use to assess their nature-related risks and opportunities.

In this episode, we talk with Elizabeth Mrema, who is co-chair of the TNFD, about the goals of the task force, how she envisions them being implemented and how biodiversity is inherently linked to climate change.

Jul 09, 2021
How Cousteau's grandson is bringing oceans to ESG investors
17:28

More than 50 years ago, explorer Jacques Cousteau introduced millions of viewers to the marvels of the undersea world. In 2021, the ESG world is increasingly focused on biodiversity, and the oceans are a big part of that picture. Goods and services from the world's oceans and coasts are worth at least $2.5 trillion annually, while the overall value of the ocean as an asset is at least 10 times that amount, according to a 2015 estimate from the WWF.

In this week’s episode, we interview Cousteau’s grandson, Philippe, the co-founder of a nonprofit called EarthEcho International that works on ocean health.

“It’s important to start thinking about a restoration ethic and returning the oceans to abundance,” says Philippe. “For far too long, the environmental movement has been a movement of deprivation and doom and gloom. It has not been enough of a movement of opportunity and hope.”

We also hear from Doug Heske, CEO of impact investing company Newday Impact that has teamed up with Philippe to promote ocean restoration, especially among younger investors. And we interview fund manager Paul Buchwitz from one of Germany’s largest asset managers, DWS, about how the company is aiming to ocean-related risks while tapping into new investment opportunities offered by ocean restoration projects.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Jul 02, 2021
Standard setters work to close climate accounting gaps
18:09

Investors are increasingly calling on companies to reflect climate-related risks in their financial results. In September 2020, global investor groups representing more than $103 trillion wrote an open letter asking companies and their auditors to include climate-related risks in financial reporting.

Accounting standard setters and international auditing boards are also requesting that firms pay more attention to future climate risks when they produce their financial results.

"There has been a big kind of anomaly there, almost a loophole, that climate has not been taken into account," David Pitt-Watson, executive fellow at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, tells us.

We also interview International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) Vice Chair Sue Lloyd about plans for a new international sustainability standards board.

“I still talk to a lot of investors who are surprised that there isn't more information in the notes to the financial statements about the assumptions that have been used,” Sue says.

And we speak to Veronica Poole of Deloitte for an auditor’s point of view. She says recent guidance the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) issued on the topic of climate-related risk “is extremely valuable, and I think certainly should be looked at and used by auditors in their work as they challenge the assertions made by clients around the impact of climate change risks and opportunities on their business.”

Jun 25, 2021
How Corporate America is waking up to racial equity
21:44

On June 17, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
In this episode, we’re looking at how corporate America is changing its approach to diversity — and race in particular.
June 19th, or Juneteenth, marks the official end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865. But the ugly systemic racism that slavery was built on endures. In 2020, the murder of George Floyd put that racism front and center for the world. And in response, many companies begin publicly addressing race and inequality.
One way that change has manifested itself is recognition of Juneteenth. In 2020, many companies started observing the holiday — including our own parent company, S&P Global. We spoke to Tamara Vasquez, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at S&P Global, about the company’s decision to observe Juneteenth and her experience of the growing intersection of business and diversity.
And we speak to Rodney Sampson, professor, angel investor and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Rodney is also Executive Chairman and CEO of Opportunity Hub, a platform he co-founded to build inclusive ecosystems for innovation, entrepreneurship and investment.
“We have a theory that until there's capital at stake, whether it's investment capital or revenue, companies aren't really going to double click and actually become transformative in their investment as it relates to their racial equity or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” Rodney says.
Further reading from S&P Global: How The Advancement Of Black Women Will Build A Better Economy For All
Image credit: Getty Images

Jun 18, 2021
Here’s how you stress test for climate risk, according to France’s central bank
14:57

Regulators and supervisors around the world are increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change on financial stability. So they’re turning to climate stress tests to amass key data on financial institutions’ exposure to potential stranded assets and their ability to manage risk.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, stress tests have become a critical tool for regulators to gauge how well banks can withstand hypothetical adverse scenarios, such as a sharp market downturn or an economic shock. Regulators can then determine, for example, whether banks need to hold more capital to protect themselves against risk.

In a world first, the French central bank conducted a climate stress test on its financial sector. In this episode, we speak to Laurent Clerc, director for research and risk analysis at France’s Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority, which conducted the tests in its role as the supervisory arm of the French central bank.

“What is not necessarily perceived by institutions is the urgency,” Laurent tells us. “Delays in reshaping lending or delays in insurance policies might also delay the necessary transition.”

Image credit: Getty Images

Jun 11, 2021
Exxon board ouster over climate change has big implications. Here's why
13:59

Last week the ESG world saw a major shakeup at one of the world’s largest oil majors. Specifically, at Exxon Mobil’s annual proxy meeting, shareholders voted to replace three board members with directors put forward by a small activist investor group — known as Engine No. 1. The group claimed Exxon was not moving fast enough to address climate change and that the board needed a fresh perspective to steer the company in the right direction.

Shareholders have threatened for years to oust board members if companies don’t move fast enough on climate change. But last week, they carried through on that threat.

To better understand the implications of the vote for both Exxon and other companies, we talked with Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at Ceres, which works with investors to press companies to tackle climate change.

"I think this will certainly get the attention of other boards in this sector and beyond," Andrew said. "Nothing focuses the minds of a corporate director like the possibility that they might lose their job."

Image credit: Getty Images

Jun 04, 2021
Carrot and stick: Why companies like Chipotle are linking executive pay to ESG targets
26:12

What do Chipotle, an air conditioning company and one of the world’s largest activist investors have in common? They’re all tackling the challenge of how to incentivize executives to advance corporate sustainability goals.

In this episode, we talk with Chipotle Head of Sustainability Caitlin Leibert about the company's plan to tie 10% of annual executive incentive bonuses to sustainability goals. Linking executive compensation to ESG goals is a way for companies to "put your money where your mouth is,” Caitlin says.

But European activist investor Cevian Capital believes that many companies could make their ESG-linked incentives more robust and transparent, says Harlan Zimmerman, a senior partner at the firm.

We also hear from Marcia Avedon, Trane Technologies’ Chief Human Resources, Marketing and Communications Officer, about how the air conditioner and heating company is looking to incentivize all its employees to act on its sustainability targets.

"We are weaving sustainability...into everything we do as a company," Marcia says.

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 28, 2021
How companies are calculating financial benefits of intangible ESG programs
21:22

As more companies look to adopt ESG-friendly strategies, they sometimes run up against the challenge of finding the financial justification for doing so. Furthermore, opponents of ESG initiatives often question whether such efforts cost companies more money than it brings them.

This is the heart of the debate over ESG – are companies sacrificing financial returns as they move to become more socially and environmentally responsible?

A number of studies have found that companies with strong ESG practices tend to perform better. But it can be difficult to measure the financial impact of less tangible factors. For example, what’s the payoff of cutting your company’s emissions? What is the financial impact of expanding your paid sick leave?

In this episode, we'll explore a methodology developed by the Center for Sustainable Business at the New York University’s Stern School of Business that helps companies put a price on things like employee retention, avoided costs, and improved insurance rates. The methodology is called the Return on Sustainable Investment, or ROSI.

From the center's director Tensie Whelan, we'll hear how the methodology has helped companies understand the financial benefits of their ESG programs.

And we'll talk with Kate Chisholm, the Chief Sustainability Officer at Capital Power, a publicly-traded independent power producer in Canada, that used the ROSI tool to assess its decarbonization strategy and decided to retire its coal-fired power plant fleet in 2023 as a result.

ROSI "helps you put numbers where intuition was the best thing you could do before," Kate said.

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 21, 2021
New EU sustainable finance rules a ‘game-changer' for private equity
19:08

The European Union’s new Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, or SFDR, is expected to drastically change the scope of sustainable investing by providing greater transparency and increasing disclosure. And this is a particularly big deal for the private equity world, which has historically relied on self-regulation.

Broadly speaking, private equity refers to investments in or ownership of private companies, and in this episode, we ask how SFDR is impacting the private equity industry. We hear from Sophie Flak, managing partner in charge of ESG at French investment firm Eurazeo. Sophie was a member of an EU expert group that put in place some recommendations on SFDR. She says that the industry has a long way to go on ESG, and this new regulation will help drive progress and transparency.

"But the road is a bumpy one,” she adds.

We also talk to Andy Pitts-Tucker, who works closely with private equity firms in his role as managing director of APEX ESG Ratings. He expects that SFDR will require “a significant leap” for a majority of the industry. “ESG is quite new to a lot of people in the private market world,” Andy says.

SFDR comes from the EU, but has a reach that extends far beyond Europe. Andy says international regulators are watching closely and learning.

“It’s a game-changer,” he tells us. “What we’re certainly going to see is regulators around the globe adopting their own policies.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 14, 2021
How 4 of the world's biggest companies are turning net zero goals into action
21:18

We’ve seen an explosion of companies setting net zero targets in 2021. That prompted us to ask: What comes next? After you set a decarbonization goal, how do you go about meeting it and measuring progress? To answer these questions, we talked to some of the world’s largest companies — Walmart, AT&T, Duke Energy and State Street Global Advisors — in a recent S&P Global webinar. This episode of the podcast highlights some of the key takeaways we heard from those executives.

Walmart Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen McLaughlin tells us how the retail giant is working with thousands of suppliers to achieve zero emissions by 2040.

AT&T Chief Sustainability Officer Charlene Lake talks about how the telecommunications giant is working up and down its supply chain to pursue its science-based target of reducing emissions.

Duke Energy Chief Sustainability Officer Katherine Neebe explains how the utility, which has most of its emissions occur in the production of electric generation, is seeking the most reliable and affordable path to net zero.

And we hear from Carlo Funk, the lead ESG Investment Strategist at State Street Global Advisors covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions. Carlo unpacks how the asset manager is engaging with companies to lower its portfolio emissions.

Photo credit: Getty Images

May 07, 2021
How some companies cut corners to achieve renewable energy targets 
15:44

Hundreds of companies around the world have made ambitious promises to purchase only wind, solar and other types of clean electricity to power their operations. But many of these corporations aren’t buying actual physical electricity from renewable sources. Instead, they are snapping up incredibly cheap instruments known as unbundled renewable energy certificates, or RECs, which allows them to make “100% renewable power” claims while continuing to emit greenhouse gases as before. The practice is also problematic because it does little to encourage the establishment of new wind or solar farms —not a good outcome in the broader fight against climate change.  

In this episode, we talk to Max Scher, head of clean energy and carbon programs at software giant Salesforce, which used to buy RECs but no longer does so.  

“My general fear here is that if we are hyper-focused on… purchasing RECs, we’re going to miss the hard work, the important work, on reducing energy consumption, thinking about siting of facilities on cleaner grids” and other real-world steps to lower the carbon footprint of corporations,” Max tells us. 

We also hear from an analyst at Lazard Asset Management, and from Matthew Brander, a carbon accounting expert at the University of Edinburgh who cautions that buying RECS instead of actual renewable power can be “a very low-cost easy way of making it appear to have reduced emissions.”

Photo credit: Getty images

Apr 30, 2021
Banks turning green in pursuit of net zero
24:58
As countries across the world set out plans to bring their emissions to net zero by 2050, financial institutions are increasingly setting their own carbon neutrality goals. Limiting global warming to 2°C by 2050 will require $3 trillion annually in investment, according to an estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and banks will play an integral part in channeling that financing.

To find out what banks are doing to get to their lending portfolios to net zero, we talk to Amit Puri, global head of environmental and social risk management at U.K.-based Standard Chartered, about the bank’s net zero ambitions.

“We are really trying to figure out on a sector-by-sector basis, on a geography basis, where are we today, where is the baseline, and therefore what do we need to do to reduce emissions in line with the commitment that we have made?” Amit says.

We also hear from executives at Natixis about a tool the French investment bank created to make its lending portfolio more sustainable. That approach “should help us to drive the entire portfolio of the bank toward a net zero balance sheet,” says Karen Degouve, head of sustainable business development at Natixis.
 
To learn more about our ESG Thought Leadership, visit the new S&P Global Sustainable1 website.
 
Photo credit: Getty Images
Apr 23, 2021
Big Oil's 'bumpy ride' to net-zero
24:03
Major oil and gas companies are beginning to set aggressive decarbonization targets, but the path ahead for them is riddled with challenges. The latest episode of S&P Global's ESG Insider podcast takes a deep dive into what net-zero goals mean for those energy companies.
 
We'll hear from Ed Daniels, an executive vice president and the head of strategy at Royal Dutch Shell plc, about the company's plan for achieving net zero across its direct and indirect emissions. We also talk with Natasha Landell-Mills, the head of stewardship at Sarasin & Partners, a U.K.-based asset manager with more than £15 billion under management, about why the firm recently divested from Shell after years of engagement. And Simon Redmond, a senior director at S&P Global Ratings, explains the rating agency's decision to bump down the credit ratings of some companies in the oil sector, including Shell.
 
Photo source: Getty Images
Apr 20, 2021
Shareholder proposals to watch this proxy season: climate, racial equity, stakeholder capitalism
35:11

Heading into the 2021 proxy season, investors are increasingly focused on equity issues, climate change, and the broader role of companies in society. Shareholders filed at least 435 ESG-related shareholder proposals for the 2021 proxy season, according to the respected Proxy Preview report.

 
In this episode, we explore three emerging shareholder proposals.
 
One asks companies to give investors a “Say on climate,” a variation on “Say on pay” resolutions that gained traction after the 2008 financial crisis. To learn more, we talk with Chris Hohn, a British billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist behind the “Say on climate” resolution.
 
We also hear from Tejal Patel, corporate governance director at CtW Investment Group, which is behind a resolution asking companies to perform racial equity audits.
 
"Even the most well-meaning board might be missing certain ways that their policies affect communities of color," Tejal says. Financial institutions, in particular, need to look for those blind spots "because they play such a critical role in our economy and in our society."
 
And we look at a proposal that asks companies to become "public benefit corporations" to further advance stakeholder capitalism. Stakeholder capitalism posits that companies are responsible for their role in society in addition to making money for shareholders, and the idea has gained traction in recent years.

To read S&P Global's 2021 proxy report, click here

Photo credit: Getty Images

Apr 09, 2021
State Street Global Advisors expects a data ‘revolution’
19:07

Last week, State Street Global Advisors released its annual asset stewardship report. With nearly $3.5 trillion in assets under management, the firm is one of the world’s largest asset managers. In 2020, it voted in more than 19,000 meetings and engaged with over 2,400 companies.

In this episode, we hear from Ben Colton and Rob Walker, co-heads of the firm’s asset stewardship program. They tell us about the themes the firm focused on in shareholder engagements in 2020, like COVID-19 response, supply chain resilience and racial and gender diversity. And they say that last one is poised for rapid change.

"I believe that in the next six to 12 months, you're going to see a revolution in the quality and the quantity of data related not only to racial and ethnic diversity, but human capital management more broadly,” Ben says.

They also talk about the emerging themes they’re engaging on in 2021 proxy season. The Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, has become widely adopted. Now, Ben and Rob say investors are shifting their focus from baseline climate disclosures to the governance of environmental issues.

State Street Global Advisors' latest asset stewardship report can be found here: https://www.ssga.com/library-content/pdfs/asset-stewardship/asset-stewardship-report-2020.pdf

Photo credit: Getty Images

Apr 02, 2021
Why companies, investors should be worried about water
25:26

World Water Day was March 22nd, and we’re marking the occasion by looking at the looming threat of water scarcity and the lack of investor appetite for financing water-related projects.

According to the United Nations, 2.2 billion people globally lack safely managed drinking water, and 4.2 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation. The U.N. also warns that water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030. Access to clean water has become even more vital with COVID-19, which created a worldwide need for constant hand-washing.

Water management is a risk for companies, too. S&P Global Trucost data shows that more than half of companies’ water usage comes from supply chains, so even companies operating in water-abundant regions can be affected by scarcity given the global nature of suppliers. 

In this episode, we hear from Will Sarni, founder and CEO of water consultancy Water Foundry. Will says the world struggles to value water, which makes it difficult to secure capital investments in water technologies and solutions.

To learn about some of the solutions that do exist, we talk to Emilio Tenuta, Chief Sustainability Officer at Ecolab, a provider of water and hygiene solutions.

“We're seeing that disruptions and challenges to our water resources from climate change can have significant operational risk to businesses,” Emilio says. “It really impacts businesses and communities, whether it be operational costs for business, supply chain disruptions, growing constraints related to reputation and brand. Clearly, there's a growing concern for ESG investors who are investing in companies facing these challenges.”

Ecolab just released an enhanced version of the Smart Water Navigator, a free, publicly available online tool that helps companies manage water risk using S&P Global Trucost data. Read a white paper co-authored by Ecolab and S&P Global Trucost on the topic of corporate water management here: https://ecolab.widen.net/s/8mlk7dwnsp/smart-water-navigator-working-paper

Photo source: Getty Images

Mar 25, 2021
EU revolutionizes sustainability regulation with SFDR
14:18

New sustainable finance disclosure regulations came into force in Europe on March 10 as part of the EU’s push towards making the economy greener. The new Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, or SFDR, is expected to drastically change the scope of sustainable investing by providing greater clarity and transparency and increasing disclosure.

Fund managers will now have to disclose environmental, social and governance risks in their portfolios, marking the first step in a vast EU plan to drive capital to meet sustainable goals.

In the episode we talk to Nathan Fabian, Chairperson of the European Platform on Sustainable Finance and Chief Responsible Investment Officer at the Principles for Responsible Investment, or PRI, a United Nations-backed network of investors. He heads up the platform, a group of experts from industry, finance and civil society who advise the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, on the future of sustainable finance policy in Europe. Listen to a previous episode of ESG Insider to learn more about Europe's new green taxonomy for sustainable activities. another ESG push by the EU: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/banks-big-green-eu-taxonomy-challenge/id1475521006?i=1000511776202

Mar 22, 2021
Diversity data is lacking; New report seeks to fix that
13:09

Investors, customers and employees are paying increasing attention to corporate diversity. That was true for gender in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and it has been increasingly true of race following the death of George Floyd in the U.S.

But data is lacking, especially around racial and ethnic diversity. In this episode, we explore a first-of-its-kind diversity report that provides a much-needed window into corporate diversity. This new report is the result of an Illinois law that requires public companies headquartered in the state to report on the gender, racial and ethnic representation among corporate leaders and boards of directors.

In March 2021, the University of Illinois used the disclosures from this law to publish the first report card evaluating how companies are faring on diversity. You can access the report here.

We interview Illinois Speaker of the House Chris Welch, who sponsored the diversity law. He called the report “a goldmine of data.”

Speaker Welch said this data will help drive informed decisions. It will also put companies on public notice.

“These companies spend a whole lot of money on their brands,” he said. “Having this information out there, companies know that they can be publicly shamed. It shows where their values are, and their customers are paying attention.”

You can listen to our previous interview with Speaker Welch, from October 2020, here.

Mar 12, 2021
Banks’ big green EU taxonomy challenge
17:13

Investors and banks have less than a year to comply with the European Union’s new taxonomy for sustainable activities. In this episode, we explore the challenges financial institutions face in applying the taxonomy to their portfolios — something the Biden administration is sure to be watching as it tackles its own climate goals.

Starting in January 2022 investors must explain how they use the taxonomy to assess the sustainability of their investments. They will also have to disclose what percentage of their investments are in line with the taxonomy. The new regulation is expected to radically change how investors and companies report on their environmental performance.  

We hear from Daniel Bouzas, a policy adviser at the European Banking Federation. We also talk to Hans Biemans, head of sustainable markets at Dutch bank ING Group, which took part in a recent study on how banks can apply the taxonomy to their lending.
 
 
Photo credit: Getty Images
Mar 05, 2021
When climate science and business collide
30:17

Investor pressure is growing for companies and financial institutions to assess and disclose their exposure to climate risks such as wildfires, sea-level rise, hurricanes and other extreme weather events. But in a new report, a handful of climate scientists in Australia warn that many existing climate models are extremely nuanced and were not designed with a business-specific application in mind.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore the challenges of using climate models in physical risk assessments. We speak with two authors of the report: Tanya Fiedler, who is a lecturer in the discipline of accounting at the University of Sydney, and Andy Pitman, a professor at the University of South Wales.

We also talk with Steve Bullock, Global Head of ESG Product Innovation and Analytics at S&P Global Trucost. Trucost assesses risks relating to climate change and natural resource constraints with aim of translating those climate models and other data into information companies can use. Steve says financial market participants need some insight into the magnitude of these risks so that they can begin to take action.

"Given the urgent need for action, having a blurry photograph of risk exposure is certainly better than having no visibility at all," Steve tells us.

Feb 26, 2021
Global stimulus funds fall short of boosting green economy
17:13

Over the last year, 30 of the world’s richest countries have poured an unprecedented $14.9 trillion into stimulus spending to help revive their pandemic-hit economies. Some hoped that this massive wave of spending would turbo-charge investment in greener industries, such as electric cars, efficient buildings and renewable energy. But has that actually happened? 

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we take a closer look at how much global stimulus spending has gone to fighting climate change or protecting the environment. The upshot, according to new research, is that stimulus measures are continuing to have a net negative impact on the environment, mainly because so much of spending is directed at more carbon intensive-industries such as transportation, agriculture and energy. Just 12% of overall stimulus spending is directed at the green economy. 

We talk to Jason Eis, executive director of Vivid Economics, a British research firm. Eis says there are signs that the “greenness” of stimulus spending is slowly improving, thanks in part to President Biden’s plans to invest in a greener recovery. 

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 19, 2021
A deep dive into BlackRock's net-zero plan
15:29

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink made waves in the ESG world last month by pushing companies to plan for a net-zero emissions future. His annual letter also committed to taking more concrete steps within BlackRock to enable the decarbonization transition.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we dive into BlackRock’s own net-zero strategy. We talk to experts about what it means and how much further the world’s largest asset manager still needs to go. Fink has acknowledged that BlackRock has a carbon-intensive portfolio and is moving to change that.

We'll hear from Kirsten Spalding, who leads the Investor Network at the sustainability-focused group Ceres. And we’ll also hear from Moira Birss, who is Climate & Finance Director at Amazon Watch. Her group is part of a network of NGOs and finance advocates that are pressing asset managers like BlackRock to align their business practices with a climate-safe world.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Feb 11, 2021
'Stakeholder capitalism,' the buzzword at Davos
14:23

Stakeholder capitalism — the idea that companies are responsible for their role in society in addition to making money for shareholders — has taken on new meaning thanks to COVID-19. It was the buzzword among major players in the ESG world like BlackRock CEO Larry Fink as well as heads of government at the Davos summit last week.

In this episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we dive into stakeholder capitalism — what it means and what people were saying at the World Economic Forum's annual Davos gathering, which was virtual this year. 

You'll also hear an interview with the World Economic Forum's Project Lead for ESG, Emily Bayley. She describes the story behind a set of new stakeholder capitalism metrics that more than 60 major companies just agreed to use in their mainstream reporting, such as annual reports and proxy statements. 

Feb 05, 2021
Biden transition brings wave of ESG uncertainty, opportunity
22:56
New U.S. President Joe Biden has made climate change a priority and is setting the nation on a much more sustainability-focused path than his predecessor.
Just days into his term, Biden had already has taken dozens of executive actions, including rejoining the Paris agreement on climate change and ordering a review of rules the Trump administration finalized in the last days of its term.
In the latest episode of S&P Global podcast ESG Insider, we talk to experts about what the change of administration and the inherent regulatory uncertainty mean for sustainability-minded companies and investors.
We hear from Josh Zinner, CEO of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. ICCR, a global coalition of institutional investors, engages with corporations on a wide range of ESG issues. Zinner said climate-minded investors take the long view and ignored the Trump administration's deregulatory agenda in the expectation that the pendulum would eventually swing back in their favor, which it now has under Biden.
We talk to Alex Bond, one of the regulatory leads at the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S. Bond said the sector has been focused on climate for years and that utilities, like investors, take a long-term view.
And we interview former bank regulator John Geiringer, who said that the tone in the financial sector was already shifting to take climate risk more seriously, even before the administration change.
 
Photo source: Getty Images
Jan 28, 2021
The ESG trends that will drive 2021
27:30

In this final episode of 2020, we'll talk with experts about what key ESG themes they expect to unfold in 2021.

State Street Global Advisors’ EMEA Head of ESG Investment Strategy Carlo Funk outlines the firm’s ESG priorities for the year ahead, while proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis' Director of ESG Research Courteney Keatinge describes why COVID-19 will continue to be a key theme behind shareholder engagement in 2021.

Trillium Asset Management CEO Matt Patsky talks about the continued need for robust data and how the incoming Biden administration could establish disclosure requirements.

And we hear from Jeff Hales, who chairs the Standards Board at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB. He talks about how COVID-19 altered the way companies and investors think about human capital management issues like worker mental health and paid sick leave. As a result, SASB is considering changing the way it measures human capital management in its industry-specific sustainability standards.
 
Photo credit: Getty Images/Nora Carol Photography
Dec 31, 2020
Risky business: Investors seek meat industry changes amid COVID-19
21:52
This special pre-Thanksgiving episode puts a spotlight on the meat industry that is supplying the turkeys and other poultry, pork, fish, and beef products many Americans will be feasting on for the holiday. The meat industry has been hard hit by COVID-19, as the pandemic has exposed frailties in everything from supply chains to production processes and associated greenhouse gas emissions levels to worker safety. In the episode, we talk with Jeremy Coller, the founder of the industry activist group Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return, or FAIRR, about these weaknesses. Coller also discusses progress his group and investors have made in convincing companies to tackle these risks, and the continued challenges the sector faces.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Nov 23, 2020
Financial regulators should act 'urgently' on climate, says CFTC commissioner
19:03

U.S. financial regulators need to step up in the fight against climate change, according to one of their own.

Rostin Behnam, a commissioner at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, talks to ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast on environmental, social and governance issues, about a report released in September by a panel of nearly three dozen Wall Street, energy and sustainability executives and experts. In the report, the CFTC's Climate-Related Market Risk Subcommittee concluded that climate change poses a "major risk" to the stability of the American financial system and the broader economy.

"U.S. financial regulators need to recognize this risk and move urgently and decisively to address" climate change," Behnam says in the episode.

The landmark report included more than 50 recommendations calling on lawmakers and financial regulators across the U.S. to address climate risk. It has already sparked new conversations about the relationship between the financial industry and climate change.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, introduced legislation Oct. 21 that would ban financial companies from making new investments in fossil fuels, while citing the report from the CFTC subcommittee. And the New York Public Service Commission recently noted the CFTC panel's findings when discussing whether to require annual reports from major electric and gas utilities on their climate-related risks.

"Climate change is not linear in many respects," Behnam said. "It's not comparable to a traditional financial analyst's work when they evaluate public companies or risk more generally. So we have to, both the public sector and the private sector, adapt to climate change over the years. Nothing is clearly predictable. We do have a sense that climate change will get worse if we don't change our patterns."

Photo source: Busà Photography via Getty Images

Oct 28, 2020
The New 'Sandwich Generation': New York Hospital Exec Says Pandemic Will Force Rethink of Eldercare
34:02
Pictured is Pamela Sutton-Wallace and her two daughters.
In this episode, we bring you an exclusive interview with Pamela Sutton-Wallace, a healthcare executive at a New York City hospital that is one of the largest in the U.S. She took on the role just weeks before the pandemic turned the city into a coronavirus hotspot.  
Sutton-Wallace shares her decades of personal and professional experience as a leader in the healthcare industry while raising her children. She tells us how she expects the coronavirus will change family leave policies. She talks about the guidance she gives to women looking to advance in their careers while balancing demands of childcare and caring for aging relatives. And she discusses the demands on the “sandwich generation” — adults caring for an aging parent who are also raising children or supporting them financially. Sutton-Wallace has two college-age daughters and her own mother lives with her.
This is the second in a two-part series in which ESG Insider explores the ways corporate America is responding to COVID-19 and finding ways to retain employees. In the first part, we discussed research into gender, parental leave and family caregiving policies in the U.S. private sector, which S&P Global conducted in partnership with AARP.
Oct 22, 2020
How COVID-19 is forcing big changes for parents, family caregivers
28:08
In this special episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we explore how corporate America is responding to COVID-19 with new policies for employees caring for children and elderly relatives. S&P Global partnered with AARP to research how leave policies are evolving in the U.S. private sector as part of S&P Global’s #ChangePays initiative, which produces research about the benefits of increasing women participation in the work force. In the episode we unpack that research, which found the pace of change has accelerated rapidly amid the pandemic.
 
We also hear from women who are on the ground balancing childcare, virtual schooling and elder care alongside demanding careers amid the pandemic. The episode features interviews with Pamela Sutton-Wallace, an executive at New York-Presbyterian, one of the largest hospitals in the U.S.; Microsoft Corporate Vice President Rani Borkar; S&P Global Market Intelligence President Martina Cheung; and Arjuna Capital co-founder Natasha Lamb.
Oct 19, 2020
Duke Energy CEO explains new climate, environmental justice moves
30:45

Duke Energy Corp. President, CEO and board Chair Lynn Good sat down for an exclusive interview just hours after the electric utility company held its first ESG investor day on Oct. 9.

Lynn talked to ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about environmental, social and governance issues, about Duke’s evolving climate strategy. She also explained how the company is handling social issues ranging from racial tensions to working with customers who are struggling to pay their electric bills during the pandemic.

At the ESG investor day event Duke announced several new initiatives including a methane emissions target, a climate-focused executive compensation metric and efforts to craft "principles for environmental justice."

In the latest episode of the ESG Insider podcast, Lynn took a deeper dive into the compensation metric and environmental justice principles. She also defended the company's decision to build more natural gas plants despite having a net-zero emissions target.

Lynn said that technologies such as battery storage are not where they need to be to make up for performance gaps in solar and wind. Therefore, "we see a need to use natural gas” to meet those needs — “probably in the medium term," , she said. But Lynn added that the company will continue to test that assumption as technologies develop.

Lynn also said heightened racial tension in the U.S. is prompting Duke to reexamine diversity.

Duke is "turning our attention into more rapid progression of minorities and women into the company into leadership in a way that this event has really catalyzed our good intentions to encourage us to move as quickly as we can," Lynn said.

Photo source: Duke Energy

Oct 15, 2020
The 'name and shame' game: How 2 state laws tackle corporate racial diversity
31:20
Illinois and California have passed new corporate racial diversity laws to prod publicly traded companies to embrace racial diversity on their boards. In this episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about environmental, social and governance issues, two of the lawmakers behind the bills explain why the move was needed and could have ramifications beyond their state borders.

"Companies are responding to the public shame and making changes," Illinois State Representative Chris Welch said, explaining how the 2019 state law he sponsored requiring companies to report on their race metrics will be effective. "Public shaming works."
 
In the U.S., the national dialogue has turned to race in 2020. Following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, companies have paid more attention to systemic racism and diversity in their own ranks. Investors are also increasingly talking about this topic as a human capital management issue.
 
While the Illinois law does not mandate companies be racially diverse, it directs them to publicly disclose the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of their boards of directors by the end of this year. And then, starting in March 2021, the University of Illinois will publish a report card evaluating how companies are faring, which Welch said will be used to name and shame companies that are not up to snuff.  
 
"Everyone appreciates collecting data and making further decisions based on that data," Welch said. "I think this is going to become model legislation that you'll see in other states."
 
California has also taken action to promote corporate board diversity. In the episode, we interview California Assemblyman Chris Holden, who co-authored a law passed in September of this year that expands the state's diversity requirements for the boards of publicly traded companies to include people who identify as being a part of a racial minority, an Indigenous community or the LGBTQ community. Holden said that companies should have no trouble finding qualified director candidates and noted that studies have shown companies with diverse boards generally perform better.
 
The California law also includes a disclosure mandate. Specifically, it requires the California Secretary of State to track and publicly report compliance with the law as well as levy fines for noncompliance.
Oct 08, 2020
Walmart sustainability head talks climate change, supply chain strategy
25:04

The coronavirus has slammed the retail sector and caused many companies to go out of business. But the pandemic has been a catalyst for growth at Walmart Inc., one of the world's largest retailers. The company's e-commerce sales jumped 97% in the second quarter as consumers hibernated at home and relied increasingly on online shopping. That growth also means an expanding carbon footprint.

In this special Climate Week episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast, we talk to Walmart’s chief sustainability officer, Kathleen McLaughlin. She says the company is making significant strides toward the goals of Project Gigaton, its initiative to eliminate 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases by 2030. Walmart has enlisted more than 2,300 of its suppliers, including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and Fruit of the Loom, to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our goal is to rewire the way that supply chains function so that the production of the products that all of use every day is actually sustainable," McLaughlin tells ESG Insider.

Photo source: Walmart

Sep 23, 2020
Why one big asset manager dropped companies over lobbying
23:51

Companies that lobby against climate-friendly laws and policies are putting the overall goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change at risk and have a "weak recognition of the challenges ahead," Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO of Norway's largest private investment firm Storebrand Asset Management AS, said in an exclusive interview.

In the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about environmental, social and governance issues, Saugestad talked about the new climate policy Storebrand Asset Management, a subsidiary of insurer Storebrand ASA, announced in August.

Many banks and asset managers have announced plans to divest from carbon-intensive companies or cease financing certain fossil-fuel projects and companies, but Storebrand took its divestment strategy a step further. The Norwegian investment firm, which has more than $90 billion in assets under management, opted to exit investments in companies that it judged to have lobbied against climate change policies.

The companies it divested from for alleged anti-climate lobbying practices include Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Southern Co.

Under its new policy, Storebrand also will no longer invest in companies that earn over 5% of their revenues from coal or oil sands, although Saugestad in the interview noted his firm has made some exceptions to that rule. The asset manager also plans to increase capital flows into low-carbon, climate-resilient and transition companies and provide clients with a range of sustainability and low-carbon funds to help them decarbonize their portfolios.

Sep 21, 2020
The ESG implications of a proposed US Labor Department rule
22:13

The U.S. Department of Labor received thousands of comments on a newly proposed rule that says sustainable investments still need to put financial performance first to have a place in corporate retirement plans. Some say the proposal would put needed guardrails in place around an increasingly popular investment product, but others argue that the rule will hamper ESG options in pension funds.

We talk to sustainability experts on both sides of the debate in the latest episode ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about environmental, social and governance issues.

The Labor Department in June proposed requiring company-sponsored retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and pension plans that are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, to give a higher priority to funds with the greatest financial performance potential than to those focused on non-financial environmental and social considerations. The vast majority of comments the DOL received in July were in opposition to the proposal, according to an analysis by a number of organizations including the US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Christian McCormick, director and senior product and sustainability specialist at asset manager Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC, notes that sustainable funds have grown exponentially. Morningstar Inc. reported that the money invested in sustainable funds increased nearly fourfold in 2019 from the prior calendar year to a total of $21.4 billion. In comparison, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, or WBCSD, has indicated that in 2019 only 4.8% of Fortune 1000 companies offered a socially-responsible fund option for employee retirement plans.

Given the rising popularity of ESG funds, McCormick suggests that the Labor Department may be trying to act early before the trend spreads and takes hold in retirement plans. If the agency were to wait until more companies offered ESG fund options, it would face much more push-back "because it would require a lot of cost to then change investment lineups [and] require a lot of regulatory and perhaps even litigation costs for plans that have already added it," McCormick says in the interview.

But William Sisson, executive director of the CEO-led WBCSD, contends that the new rule would make companies even less likely to offer ESG fund options. "This ruling is going to perhaps put some brakes on that because it's going to raise ... some flags to the fiduciaries in our companies about concerns over the litigation risk and other factors that they'll have to pay attention to if this ruling goes forward," he tells ESG Insider.

Aug 26, 2020
European banks sharpen ESG focus as COVID-19 highlights risk
17:11
ESG Insider interviewed sustainability leaders at some of Europe’s largest financial institutions: BBVA in Spain, BNP Paribas in France and Barclays in the U.K. This is the third in a three-part miniseries that features interviews with some of the biggest lenders around the world about how they're adapting their ESG strategies amid COVID-19. In Europe, climate change remains in sharp focus for banks despite the current coronavirus crisis. As scientists caution that deforestation and destruction of nature could lead to more pandemics, some banks are increasing their focus on environmental issues like biodiversity.
 
Listen to the episode to hear the interviews, and subscribe to ESG Insider to catch future episodes. 
 
(Photo: AP) 
Jul 31, 2020
Head of major US gas utility outlines path to net-zero emissions
23:29
"This isn't just a pie-in-the-sky commitment or announcement. This is something that we spent a lot of time researching and analyzing and studying," DTE Gas Co. President and COO Matt Paul said of the company's plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
 
Paul made the comment in an exclusive interview with ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about environmental, social and governance issues.
 
DTE Gas parent company DTE Energy is among the largest electric and gas companies in the U.S. and serves 2.2 million electricity customers and 1.3 million gas customers in Michigan. In June, it expanded its existing goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to also include its natural gas distribution and gas retail sales operations. The company joins a growing list of U.S. electric and gas utilities that have made deep decarbonization pledges.
 
But achieving net-zero emissions can be a complicated feat and requires different strategies for different types of companies. For example, electric utilities can reduce the majority of their carbon emissions by retiring coal-fired power plants and replacing that generation with wind, solar and battery projects. However, not all companies have the option of changin​g their power fleet to achieve their goal.
 
In the interview, Paul detailed DTE Gas' strategy for achieving net-zero emissions within its operations and from suppliers, such as oil and gas drillers and owners of major interstate pipelines that transport the gas to its distribution system. Paul also noted that DTE Gas is looking to help customers who use natural gas for home heating and other purposes offset their associated emissions.
 
Paul said that the company will need to rely on carbon offsets for a portion of its goal and described how DTE Gas is already taking steps to ensure those options are available for the future.
 
Listen the episode to hear the full interview, and subscriber to ESG Insider to catch future episodes. 
 
(Photo: AP) 
Jul 27, 2020
COVID-19 shows many ESG agendas have 'forgotten about the people'
25:44

"Sustainability was always around people, planet and profit. I just think for the longest time we've forgotten about the people," said Mikkel Larsen, chief sustainability officer at Singapore-based 

" data-original-title="">DBS Group Holdings Ltd., in an interview for the latest episode of "ESG Insider," an S&P Global podcast.

In the coronavirus pandemic, Larsen said, "We've been reminded that you can't have one without the two others."

Larsen said the pandemic has brought social issues to the forefront as companies grapple with the way they treat their employees, customers and those in their supply chains.

"What we now see under COVID-19 is that companies who don't take [care] of their employees will not have a sustainable company to run," he said in the interview.

In Asia, where millions live in abject poverty, Larsen cautioned that the climate agenda cannot come at the expense of people. DBS stopped financing coal-fired power plants, but only after finding price-competitive renewable energy alternatives.

"We were not willing to accept that lack of electricity — we are in Southeast Asia where 65 million are still without electricity — was necessarily going to be the trade-off," Larsen said.

In other industries, such as aviation and cement, good alternatives are not yet clear. But Larsen said banks like DBS can take steps to help clients transition to more sustainable business models.

"I think the right thing to do is to back those that are taking the right steps to decarbonize," he said.

 

Going forward, Larsen expects rapid growth in ESG investing in Asia. He said this is partly due to growing investor demand and partly due to rising pressure from regulators in the region.

"You've seen around Asia a number of regulators stepping up, and they're not deterred particularly by the COVID-19 crisis," he said. "Introduction of carbon taxes, introduction of incentives for going green, requirements for banks to show how much of their book is 'green' and 'brown'...China's ability to offer a discounted rate at the discount window if you have green assets — all these things will spur the movement."

The episode is part of a series of podcasts exploring how banks in different parts of the world are adapting their environmental, social and governance strategies amid the coronavirus pandemic. DBS is the largest bank in Southeast Asia. In the 

" data-original-title="">last episode, we heard from 
" data-original-title="">JPMorgan Chase & Co.
 Head of Sustainability Marisa Buchanan about how the largest U.S. bank is responding to systemic racism and re-upping its focus on climate change following pandemic disruptions. In the next episode, we'll hear from some of the largest banks in Europe about their ESG approach.

Listen to the episode, and subscribe to ESG Insider to catch future episodes. 

(Photo: AP) 

Jul 20, 2020
How the biggest US bank is adapting its ESG approach amid COVID, racism
19:45

Climate change took "a bit of a backseat" during the first several weeks of the coronavirus pandemic as "governments and businesses frankly were really just focused on survival," JPMorgan Chase Head of Sustainability Marisa Buchanan said in an exclusive interview in the latest episode of "ESG Insider," an S&P Global podcast.

"As economies begin to rebuild [and] businesses have greater ability to focus on these issues, we're going to see budget and bandwidth come back hopefully," Buchanan said.

The episode is part of a series in which we talk to some of the world's biggest lenders about how they are adapting their environmental, social and governance strategies amid COVID-19 and widespread protests against racism following George Floyd's death in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Listen to the episode to hear to the full interview, and subscribe to ESG Insider to catch future episodes. 

(Photo: AP)

Jun 30, 2020
Why S&P Global Ratings sees ESG as critical to COVID-era credit quality
20:33

More than 370 credit rating actions taken by S&P Global Ratings since March have been driven by environmental, social and governance factors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, S&P Global Ratings' Americas Team Leader for Sustainable Finance Michael Ferguson said in an exclusive interview for the latest episode of "ESG Insider," an S&P Global podcast.

Companies in nearly every sector have been hard hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic and many have seen their credit rating downgraded as a result. The majority of ESG-related actions S&P Global Ratings took in recent months were tied to social factors, such as how businesses are being impacted by social distancing and workforce challenges, Ferguson said.

"Managing ESG risk is critical ... because it is a central piece of understanding credit quality," he explained.

Many ESG risks such as climate change play out over the long term, giving companies time to plan and adapt. But the pandemic is forcing companies to pivot and act quickly in relation to things like supply chain management, Ferguson explained.

Some ESG-related deterioration in credit quality resulting from COVID-19 is inevitable given the pandemic circumstances.

"Certainly the idea that people are going to social distance means that they're not going to go to casinos, they're not going to go to restaurants, they're not going to get on planes for a little while. That's going to impair credit quality," Ferguson said.

But management teams do have control over their response to the virus, such as mitigating risks related to workforce and safety — and that is something ratings analysts will be watching closely as companies emerge from the crisis.

"Companies that are not particularly cautious about how they reopen and do so hastily and without taking the proper precautions," face significantly heightened social risks, Ferguson cautioned.

Listen to the episode to hear the full interview, and subscribe to ESG Insider to catch future episodes! 

(Photo: AP) 

Jun 23, 2020
Investors press Amazon, other companies on COVID-19 workforce concerns
29:54

Investors are moving to hold companies such as Amazon more accountable on workforce management during the COVID-19 crisis, Fiona Reynolds, the CEO of PRI, or the Principles for Responsible Investment, said in an exclusive interview for the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many governments have ordered social distancing and for people to stay home, with exception to essential workers. But this has meant that many companies that relied on people traveling, shopping, going out to eat for their revenues have experienced significant financial problems and many have furloughed or have been forced to lay off employees.

PRI's hundreds of signatory investors that collectively manage about $90 trillion in assets are "extremely concerned about what's happening within the workforces within the corporations that they're invested in," said Reynolds. PRI has organized focus groups aimed at helping investors engage with companies on coronavirus issues, including by asking questions of the companies at their annual shareholder meetings.

"We need to be stronger on social issues and human rights and make sure that the companies that we invest in understand that we care about the workforce," Reynolds said. "Because we know from all of the evidence, the academic evidence that is out there, (that) when you have a company that has happy employees, you're a better company and you perform better."

Reynolds also outlined how she envisions investor and government expectations might change on workforce issues coming out of the coronavirus crisis. PRI is a project the United Nations launched in 2006 that has evolved into an international network of investors who have agreed to apply six sustainability principles to their investment decisions and practices.

Also in the episode, Reynolds and S&P Global Market Intelligence e-commerce reporter Katie Arcieri outline the pressure Amazon has come under for worker safety issues both from employees and investors and how the company says it is working to address those concerns.

(Photo: AP) 

Jun 11, 2020
'No board in America wants to face that': Proxy reform, Fink's letter and ESG
20:34

Wall Street's top regulator is moving to fundamentally reshape the proxy process, one of the key avenues shareholders use to engage with companies on environmental, social and governance issues.

In the latest episode of ESG Insider, a podcast hosted by S&P Global, we talk to stakeholders about what the proxy rule changes the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing could mean for companies and investors.

Some investors worry that proposed rule changes could make it harder for shareholders to engage with companies through the proxy process. "When you cut off the opportunities for new ideas to emerge ... you are denying the marketplace the opportunity to vet those ideas and the marketplace will be poorer for it," says Jonas Kron, director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, a firm that uses ESG factors to manage about $3 billion in assets and has submitted shareholder resolutions at major companies.

Advocates for change say proxy rule updates will bring needed sanity to a process that has morphed into a political tool. " The shareholder proposal process in our viewpoint has been subverted over the last several years from being one of a communications device between shareholders and companies ... and instead is being used by certain special interest activists to push agendas or issues that they can't make progress on in Washington," says Tom Quaadman, executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, discussing why the chamber has lobbied for these changes.

Regulators are actively considering proxy rule modifications, but some say the private sector — not government — will provide the biggest catalyst for change. In early 2020, BlackRock Inc. CEO Larry Fink wrote a game-changing annual letter urging chief executives around the world to make more robust ESG disclosures using existing frameworks from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB, and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD. BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager and its CEO has considerable clout, explains Robert Jackson, who recently finished his term as an SEC commissioner.

"Companies across America right now I can assure you are talking seriously about what they have to do to come in compliance with those standards because if they don't, they're going to face a skeptical BlackRock come proxy season next year," Jackson says in an interview with ESG Insider. "Almost no board in America wants to face that."

Listen to the episode, and subscribe to ESG Insider on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

(Photo: AP) 

Mar 09, 2020
These are the top issues the ESG world is focused on in 2020
22:03

"Baby steps are equivalent to nothing in this day and age.” This is what Mindy Lubber told ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about the environmental, social and governance issues shaping company strategies and investor decisions. Lubber is CEO of sustainability nonprofit Ceres, and she was talking about how slowly many companies are reacting to climate change and disclosing their environmental risks.

In this first episode of 2020, ESG Insider talked to Lubber and other key stakeholders across the ESG world about the issues they are focused on in the new decade. The sluggish response to rapidly worsening climate risks was a recurring theme.

"Given the immediacy of climate change, I am constantly surprised at the slow reaction of the markets of institutional investors," said Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of the California State Teachers' Retirement System. CalSTRS is the 2nd-largest U.S. pension fund with a $248 billion investment portfolio.

Even companies that recognize the threat of climate change continue struggling with how to measure and disclose it. The lack of relevant, quality and comparable ESG data was another recurring theme among attendees of Sustainable Finance Week, a series of events in New York City where policymakers, asset owners and managers and corporations from around the globe convened in December.

"CEOs are thinking about it. Insurance companies, frankly, are already pricing it in. Investors need to wake up and recognize this is a factor they've got to think about in their portfolio," Ailman told ESG Insider.

The lack of standards continues to create survey fatigue. Corporations are devoting a lot of time and money to filling out surveys from all different stakeholders about their ESG data — a common refrain at ESG conferences.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board is working to address this problem. SASB is a U.S. nonprofit organization developing disclosure standards for material ESG factors, and ESG Insider spoke to Jeff Hales, chair of SASB's Standards Board, during the group's annual symposium.

There is a potential upside to survey fatigue, however, as we hear from the head of U.S. stewardship and sustainable investing for Legal & General Investment Management America in the episode.

Listen to the episode, and subscribe to ESG Insider on Soundcloud to catch future episodes.

(Photo: AP)

Jan 14, 2020
Inside the campaign to end forced labor in Uzbekistan's cotton fields
17:36

In this episode of ESG Insider, S&P Global Market Intelligence reporter Gautam Naik takes listeners inside the campaign to end forced labor in Uzbekistan's cotton fields. He visited Uzbek cotton fields during the 2019 harvest, sat down with human rights activists and interviewed government ministers trying to change the system.

A decade ago, Uzbekistan forced more than one million doctors, teachers, nurses and even schoolchildren to head out into the fields each autumn and bring in the cotton crop. Back then, a good chunk of Uzbek cotton – produced under harsh conditions of forced labor -- ended up in thousands of shirts, jeans and shoes sold by western fashion brands. But as more and more companies stopped using Uzbek cotton, something unexpected happened: the government backed down and decided to aggressively roll back its state-sponsored forced-labor regime.

For investors and asset managers who worry about the risks of labor exploitation in consumer supply chains, the Uzbekistan cotton story is a rare thing -- a vivid example of how corporate pressure can lead to enduring change in the global fight against forced labor.

Listen to the episode to learn more, and read the story on spglobal.com: https://bit.ly/2sCX1Wq

Subscribe to ESG Insider to catch future episodes.

(Photo: AP)

Dec 19, 2019
PE's approach to ESG evolving, but could be mandatory in future
15:42

Private equity investors are paying increasing attention to environmental, social and governance factors and in response many firms are implementing strategies to ensure portfolio companies are screened against ESG factors. This focus is likely to intensify and could even become a requirement for a fund over time, representatives from some of the world’s most prominent private equity firms say in the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.

At The Blackstone Group Inc., the world’s largest alternative investment firm, the ESG strategy is focused on making low-cost and no-cost operational improvements in its portfolio companies — in particular looking for ways to reduce energy and water consumption, and improve efficiency and reduce costs through the operation and maintenance of equipment.

"An example of this work [is] we can look at our investment in the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, where we really went in there and helped with energy and water consumption reduction programs, implementing LED lighting throughout the hotel, increasing their recycling rates and improving waste separation efforts just to boost that," Blackstone Global Head of ESG Alison Fenton-Willock tells ESG Insider.

ESG considerations are nothing new for many private equity firms, but the industry’s approach is evolving.

KKR & Co. Inc., another big alternative asset manager, launched a program over a decade ago focused on supply chain through the lens of issues like worker wellness, transparency and anti-corruption.

Over the next 10 years, ESG methodology will be an "absolute requirement" for every general partner, or GP, according to Hamilton Lane Inc. managing director Ana Lei Ortiz. The alternative investment management firm, which invests in private equity funds on behalf of its limited partners, or LPs, performs ESG due diligence on the firms it backs and monitors for adherence with ESG standards across a fund's lifecycle.

"[In 10 years GPs] will have to have very clear policies, they'll have to disclose a whole lot of information," Lei Ortiz says. “They won't be able to raise a fund if they're not able to address these basic questions."

Subscribe to the ESG Insider podcast to catch future episodes.

(Photo: AP)

Dec 16, 2019
The problem with social audits
22:58

Social audits are used by consumer goods companies to identify potential human rights abuses, labor violations, and other ESG risks in their supply chains. But critics argue that social audits fall short of their stated objectives. In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore the social audit process and talk to experts about flaws in the system. (Photo: AP)

Nov 25, 2019
How a non-profit is using technology to fight child labor in the cocoa industry
14:24

Child labor has been a longstanding scourge in the $100-billion cocoa industry for more than two decades. Despite efforts by U.S. Congressmen, African governments, the world’s biggest chocolate companies and various non-profit groups, it has been a tough nut to crack. In this episode, we look at program that actually seems to be having an effect. It uses a network of smartphones to identify child laborers on thousands of remote farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It then tries to persuade farmers to stop using their children on farms and to send them to school instead. You will hear from cocoa farmers in Ghana, from Nestle, maker of KitKat, and a Swiss non-profit group called the International Cocoa Initiative, or ICI, which co-founded the program. (Photo: AP)

Oct 28, 2019
New EU taxonomy helps investors, companies identify green investments
27:18

A proposed new European Union green classification system would help investors and companies identify and make environmentally friendly decisions and may evolve over time to include rules for social and governance-related investments, experts explain on the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.

The taxonomy, which the European Commission released for comment in June, "sits at the heart of the EU's action plan on sustainable finance and it's really the essential definition by which we can all judge whether something is green and sustainable or not," said Richard Mattison, CEO of Trucost, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Mattison, who worked with the EU to craft the recommendations for the taxonomy, also outlined ways companies and investors are likely to apply the rules. And he indicated the policy may be refined and expanded over time to cover a more comprehensive list of social and governance issues such as gender diversity and forced labor.

Also in the episode, we talked to Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, which has its own taxonomy for green bonds. Kidney said the EU's classification system could open up the green bond market to a whole new set of issuers.

The EU taxonomy has broader implications too, according to June Choi, a research analyst at the Climate Policy Initiative.

"The fact that the EU is taking such a high-level action on climate change sends a very important policy signal, not just for sustainable investors, but to the society in general, because it shows ... a certain level of political resolve to tackle climate change," Choi said.

To catch future episodes of ESG Insider, subscribe on Soundcloud, Spotify or iTunes.

(Photo: AP)

Aug 22, 2019
SEC's Peirce worries ESG movement could hinder corporate performance
26:31

The environmental, social and governance movement could weaken the performance of companies that have already done a lot of good for society, Commissioner Hester Peirce of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in an exclusive interview for the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.

Peirce said she worries some managers use companies as their "personal piggy bank" in the name of fulfilling social objectives and she worries that trend could grow as millennials move up the corporate ranks. "I have nothing against millennials and I think it's great they're passionate about a lot of causes," Peirce said. "But I think we shouldn't throw the valuable corporate form out the door at the same time that we're realizing that there are a lot of things that are important in life."

The SEC is considering changing the rules underlying the proxy process in which companies hold annual meetings with investors each spring. At those meetings, investors vote on key governance issues and sometimes on resolutions that shareholders have submitted.

"We want to get the calibration right so that some shareholders are not subsidizing the pet issues of a few smaller shareholders," Peirce said.

The agency has indicated that it could propose rules on the process as early as spring 2020, including potentially related to the thresholds for submitting and resubmitting resolutions and regarding influential proxy advisory firms that many asset managers use to track and vote on resolutions. But shareholder rights advocates worry raising the threshold could hinder their ability to get emerging issues on the radar of company boards and management.

Sanford Lewis, a lawyer and director of the Shareholder Rights Group, in the podcast contends the current resubmission thresholds are working fine and points to examples of how shareholders rejected fringe issues in annual meetings this year.

In the interview, Peirce also noted that she is mulling options for pulling the SEC entirely out of the process of answering companies' requests to block certain shareholder resolutions that the companies argue are not permissible under the agency's proxy rules. We talked with Tim Smith, Director of ESG Shareowner Engagement at Walden Asset Management, about the potential that the SEC will stop weighing in on resolutions, and whether companies and investors are clamoring for that change.

The episode also dives into how climate-related resolutions played out this year at key energy companies including at BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.

Jun 24, 2019
Post ‘Me Too’ movement, gender pay equality efforts gain momentum
18:55

"The environment in which the debate is happening, it's not like it was 10 years ago. We're in the midst of a 'Me Too' movement, we're in the midst of a very, very public discussion about equal pay."

This is what Rep. Rosa DeLauro told S&P Global Market Intelligence about why she recently reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act and why she thinks it has momentum as it heads to the Senate.

It has has already been a big year for pay equity advocates: In January, Citigroup Inc. became the first bank to disclose its median gender pay gap, while actress Michelle Williams made headlines when she spoke on Capitol Hill about her personal experience being paid far less than her male costar.

DeLauro hopes to build on that momentum. The Democrat congresswoman from Connecticut is one of several experts we interviewed about the gender pay gap for the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.

While the U.S. Congress weighs DeLauro's bill, the U.K. has already implemented a law requiring that organizations report on their gender pay gaps. In April, U.K. companies disclosed this information for just the second time, and our podcast dives into the new data points, looking at which companies and industries made progress closing the gap.

In the U.S., the issue is also garnering investor attention. In this episode, we hear from an activist shareholder who submitted a proposal calling for more gender pay gap disclosures at some of the nation's largest banks. Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. shareholders voted down the proposal at meetings in April, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. shareholders are poised to vote on the proposal later in May.

"We're definitely at a transition point for transparency and disclosure, and any employer that is too hesitant risks being left behind by the broader conversation," said Glassdoor Senior Economist and Data Scientist Daniel Zhao.

We talked to Zhao about a new report by Glassdoor, which found the gender pay gap is narrowing but persists around the globe. The U.S. adjusted pay gap fell below 5% in 2018 from 6.5% in 2011, thanks in part to a tighter labor market, more women participating in the workforce and greater awareness of the issue, the jobs website found.

The issue is gaining momentum and publicity, but experts we interviewed say closing the gap will take years.

"That might not sound like a lot, but it adds up to tens of thousands of dollars over a woman's career," Zhao said. "The gender pay gap is narrowing, but at a slow pace. At the current rate, it will be decades if not generations before the pay gap closes fully."

(Photo: AP)

May 14, 2019
Inside proxy fights over climate, gender pay and political spending
32:26

The interviews: U.S. EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler, Citigroup Global Head of HR Sara Wechter, Arjuna Capital Managing Partner Natasha Lamb, Center for Political Accountability President Bruce Freed, ACCF VP of Policy Tim Doyle, As You Sow President Danielle Fugere.

 

The backstory: Shareholders filed proposals on nearly 400 environmental, social and sustainability issues at U.S. companies through mid-February. The top topics were climate change, gender diversity and corporate political spending.

In the second episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast, we talk to the activist shareholders behind some of these proposals. We hear from one of the world's largest banks about how it engaged with an activist investor on the gender pay gap. And some skeptics of the ESG movement weigh in with their misgivings about the corporate focus on sustainability.

"At some point it comes down to: is the company taking the action that shareholders think is necessary? And if not, the resolution process is a way to focus a company's attention on the issue," said Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel of As You Sow, which is at the forefront of efforts to get companies to set targets to lower their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The episode features an exclusive interview with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who shares his views on the ESG movement.

Also in episode 2, Arjuna Capital LLC Managing Partner Natasha Lamb reveals how her wealth management firm convinced Citigroup Inc. to disclose new — and unflattering — gender pay gap data, even as other banks push back. And Citigroup Global Head of Human Resources Sara Wechter explains why the bank is OK with admitting it has some progress to make in that area.

"In order for us to really make a difference, we have to become as comfortable as we possibly can be with the numbers, even if they are uncomfortable," Wechter said.

Other podcast guests include Center for Political Accountability President and Co-founder Bruce Freed, and Tim Doyle of the American Council For Capital Formation, which is a member of the Main Street Investors Coalition that is pushing back on the ESG movement.

(Photo: AP)

Mar 28, 2019
Experts say these ESG trends will shape 2019
14:24

The interviews: Rakhi Kumar, State Street Global Advisors’ head of ESG investments; Libby Bernick, Trucost managing director; Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of Ceres.

The backstory: Progress on corporate disclosures. A looming talent shortage. Climate change mitigation. These are among the top trends that sustainability experts predict will shape the ESG landscape in 2019. In the inaugural episode of ESG Insider, a new podcast from S&P Global, co-hosts Esther Whieldon and Lindsey White speak to several ESG leaders about the key themes they are watching this year, including Rakhi Kumar, State Street Global Advisors’ head of ESG investments and asset stewardship, Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of Ceres, and Libby Bernick, Trucost managing director and global head of corporate business. Lindsey White is a financial news editor with S&P Global Market Intelligence. Esther Whieldon is a sustainability & climate news reporter, also with Market Intelligence. (Photo: AP)

Feb 14, 2019