Ethical Hub : Ethical Reviews - Ethical Investment Review December 2021

Climate Emergency

COP26, the United Nations Climate Change conference was held in Glasgow in October 2021. A new global agreement, the Glasgow Climate Pact, was reached at the summit, which sets the agenda for climate change over the next decade. Included in the pact was an agreement by countries to “phase out” the use of coal, and further emissions reduction targets. Rev Dr Andrew Harper, our Head of Ethics, was at COP26 and represented the CFB/Epworth at a panel discussion on what the Methodist Church is doing on the climate emergency.

We continue to discuss with banks their role in the climate emergency, including engaging with HSBC on its alleged action to weaken its commitment to net zero alignment. Rev Dr Andrew Harper was quoted in an article on this saying that if a bank had been involved with this kind of lobbying, it is “incredibly discouraging to those of us attempting to genuinely engage with companies for a more sustainable future. It would raise serious questions around a company’s commitment to science, the planet, and its people – especially the poor.”

We also met with Anglo American as part of Climate Action 100+, along with other investors. Anglo American recently released a new Climate Change report, which outlined its ambition to reduce its Scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2040 (against 2020 baseline). This is on top of its ambition to be carbon neutral across Scopes 1&2 by 2040. We had the opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities the company faces in meeting its climate ambitions going forward.

Modern Slavery

As part of the Find it, Fix it, Prevent it initiative on modern slavery, we attended a roundtable hosted by CCLA and the Home Office. The event facilitated investment organisation to feed into the UK Government’s review of their 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy. Later in the quarter, we met with Intercontinental Hotels Group to discuss recent work it has been doing to strengthen its human rights due diligence in its recruitment practices, including implementing a checklist to help drive responsible recruitment practices.

Fair Tax Mark

Tax transparency remains an important piece of engagement work we are undertaking, and in the quarter, we contacted two additional companies to encourage them to become Fair Tax Mark accredited. During the quarter, the Fair Tax Foundation launched the Global Multinational Business Standard, which means the Fair Tax Mark can be achieved by companies headquartered outside the UK.

Corporate Governance

We voted at just over 30 company AGMs in the quarter and voted in line with our Church Investors Group (CIG) policy. Some key votes in the quarter were voting for climate resolutions at some Australian Banks and voting against excessive remuneration packages for directors. Rev Dr Andrew Harper also was appointed to a seat on the Board of the CIG.