Refinitiv unveils new SDG-aligned sustainability strategy, including 1.5C science-based targets

The new strategy covers both environmental and social aspects, outlining targets deadlined at both 2025 and 2030.

On the 2025 agenda are pledges to help 65% of suppliers develop their own science-based climate targets and to reduce emissions associated with business travel and commuting by one-quarter. Refinitiv notably announced in April that its own emissions targets had been approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory.  

The 2030 proportion of the new strategy enshrines these new emissions targets, headlined by an ambition to halve carbon emissions across all scopes by 2030, against a 2019 baseline. It additionally commits Refinitiv to plant and conserve one million trees and to support more than one million people through SDG-aligned action within the next decade.

Refinitiv is a participant in the UN Global Compact and also sits on the UN’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs. While the Task Force as a whole covers action across the SDG agenda, Refinitiv, like most businesses with SDG-aligned strategies, has chosen a number of key focus areas, namely Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3); Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10); Climate Action (SDG 13) and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16).

The financial markets firm has said it will achieve its SDG-related goals both by contributing to the UN’s research and campaigning, and through its own social initiatives. On the latter, Refinitiv has a charities arm and recently launched a ‘Future of Sustainable Data’ Alliance, aimed at accelerating the mobilization of capital into green finance by the private and public sector alike. It is also a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter and producer of the Diversity and Inclusion Index, which contribute to SDGs 5 and 10 respectively.

Refinitiv’s global head of sustainability and enterprise risk Luke Manning said the new strategy is “robust” and will “continue to put sustainability at the core of what [Refinitiv] stand[s] for” after the firm met its 2020 targets on deadline – including achieving carbon-neutral status and sourcing 100% renewable electricity.

“We are at a critical time in history, requiring us to think and act strategically for our long-term collective benefit,” chief executive officer David Craig added. “Our data tells us how important sustainable and social change is and what is needed to create a lasting impact. These commitments for the next decade will significantly change the footprint we make in the world and will require action from those we work with.   We want to drive change and provide the data to help others do the same.”

Putting the SDGs in ESG

Craig alluded to Refinitiv’s latest research into the impact of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) action on corporate profitability in the context of the coronavirus. The data revealed that US-based listed firms with an ESG score of 80% of higher outperformed the stock market as a whole by an average of 6.5% during the calendar year to date.

This is perhaps to be expected, given that the issuance of ESG bonds has increased by 272% year-on-year, as investors and insurance firms take proactive steps to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

These findings echo sentiments expressed by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), which, in a recent exclusive interview with edie, predicted that companies which already had holistic and embedded sustainability approaches would best weather the storm of the pandemic.

Keen to garner further support for these companies, Credit Suisse this week unveiled plans to launch a dedicated fund to invest in companies “that drive a positive environmental transition while generating financial returns” as part of its contribution to the SDGs.

Called the Environmental Impact Equity Fund and due to launch on 25 June, the fund will invest in publicly listed small and medium companies which provide products or services that aim to solve climate change, air, water or land pollution, or humanity’s depletion of natural resources. Such companies will be selected using Credit Suisse’s existing ESG criteria.

Credit Suisse said in a statement that it recognizes the growing cohort of investors seeking a different approach to business and finance, centred around the principles of the circular economy, nature regeneration and climate action.

The international asset manager is a signatory to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking, and as such is committed to embedding the objectives of the SDGs in its internal and external activities. Its latest corporate responsibility report states that the SDGs which are most material to the firm are 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; and 13, Climate Action.

edie’s Sustainable Investment Digital Conference

edie’s Sustainable Investment Digital Conference takes place on 7-8 September 2020 and unites corporates, asset managers and asset owners for frank discussion around disclosure priorities, roadblocks and innovations. Featuring green finance experts from the likes of ING, BlackRock and BNP Paribas, the event explores how corporates and financiers can move beyond ESG in a post-COVID world.

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Sarah George

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