Large Investor Coalition Pressures ESG Disclosure on 700 Companies

With backers worth $10 trillion, the group includes the Washington State Investment Board and the New York Common Retirement Fund.

A massive institutional investor consortium is pushing more than 700 companies to reveal more on their environmental impact, including ExxonMobil, Amazon, and Volvo.

The Group of 88, an organization with almost $10 trillion in assets, wants to see more detailed disclosures from the businesses.

Of the 707 companies being targeted, 546 of them are being told to reveal their climate change impact, 166 are to report on water security, and the remaining 115 must disclose their deforestation activities. The demands are overlapping on some companies.

Members of the 88-institution union include the Washington State Investment Board ($104 billion), the New York State Common Retirement Fund ($210 billion), and Australia’s First State Superannuation Scheme ($61 billion). Among the other members are HSBC Asset Management, Aviv Investors, and insurer Legal & General. The firms they’re after have a combined $15.3 trillion market cap spanning 46 countries.

The engagement is part of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2019 non-disclosure campaign, which pushes for more corporate transparency around climate change, deforestation, and water security using shareholder influence from the big-time investors to make the difference. It is the first time in the four-year history of the ESG organization’s campaign it is publicly reporting its results.

“While some companies may say they already disclose in their own sustainability reports – that is not enough on its own,” said Emily Kreps, global director of investor initiatives at the Carbon Disclosure Project. “Investors and the wider market need transparency in the form of consistent, comparable, and relevant metrics that are easy to access, compare, and benchmark.”

Group 88’s highest priority sectors on climate change transparency this year are the services industry, manufacturing, and fossil fuels. Manufacturing tops the water security initiative, beating retail and fossil fuels. Retail, food, beverage and agriculture, and manufacturing top the deforestation brigade’s demands.

Some companies, however, have argued that investors don’t really care about environmental reporting. In response, Kreps said the campaign’s mission proves the opposite. “Investors are asking for this information and using itfor corporate engagement, selecting stocks and building investment products,” she said, noting that 7,000 firms are already disclosing their procedures through the project and providing the market with appropriate information.

She said it’s time investors put an end to the “vow of silence” from transparency-averse companies.

According to the project, companies targeted in last year’s campaign were more than twice as likely to disclose than non-selected businesses.

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