Local politicians for the English borough of Bedford are due to write to the local government pension scheme (LGPS) to request that it divests from fossil fuels, according to a vote at a council meeting this week.

According to a local media report, a successful motion put forward by Green councillor Ben Foley and its amendment from councillor Jake Sampson (LibDems), included a call for the council to write to Bedfordshire Pension Fund and the Border to Coast Pension Partnership to ask them to remove all funds from fossil fuels in the shortest possible time.

A pro-divestment vote passed at Luton Borough Council last year. Bedfordshire Pension Fund handles pensions of local government staff across Bedfordshire.

It currently has a policy not to make fossil fuel-related divestments but to seek to have a greater influence on the transition to a low-carbon economy as active shareholders.

According to minutes from a November pension fund committee meeting, the chair has “raised a request for improvement” of voting by Border to Coast, in specifically on the subject of climate change.

The minutes also noted that one of the councillors had indicated the pension fund “needed to be able to defend its position in terms of divesting and any potential future criticism”.

The pension fund has been contacted for comment. [Update: On 19 January a spokesperson for the pension fund said it had now received the letter from Bedford Borough Council regarding the climate change motion that was approved at the recent full council meeting and that it would be responding “when we have had the time to give the matter due consideration”.]

MSCI partners with impact data provider GIST 

MSCI has announced a partnership with GIST, a data and analytics company providing data measuring the value a company is adding to or subtracting from society’s natural, human and produced capital.

The data is now available to MSCI clients to enhance their ESG and climate integration and reporting. The addition of GIST’s Impact Data extends to current constituents of the MSCI World Index, with plans to expand to the MSCI ACWI Index in the second quarter of this year.

Eric Moen, head of ESG products at MSCI, said: GIST’s insights reflected company actions rather than intentions and “provide a much-needed quantitative lens to measure and report on impact and make more informed investment decisions.”

Pavan Sukhdev, founder and chief executive officer of GIST, added: “The need to recognise all dimensions of investment impacts, and to redefine corporate performance to capture the big picture, has never been more keenly or widely felt than it is today.” 

EC ESG (in credit) ratings in prep

A call for evidence on ESG ratings and the incorporation of ESG factors in credit ratings is “upcoming”, according to an update to the European Commission’s portal for citizens and organisations to make their views known on new EU policies or existing laws.

Adoption of a proposal for a regulation on these subjects is planned for the first quarter of 2023, according to the update.

A regulatory move on ESG ratings and ESG factors in credit ratings is in line with the European Commission’s new sustainable finance strategy. In that, the Commission action on the inclusion of ESG factors in credit ratings would be subject to “further assessment of the effectiveness of existing measures by ESMA”.

ESMA has previously advised against an explicit ESG analysis mandate for credit rating agencies

Human rights for sovereign debt investors

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has published a paper about the consideration of human rights by sovereign debt investors, part of a multi-year human rights investor agenda for the organisation.

The paper begins by reviewing what is described as the “inchoate” state of investor practices surrounding human rights before looking at a range of barriers to investor consideration of human rights.

For those investors ready to frame human rights in investment decisions in a sovereign debt context, the PRI suggests that they improve communication – (across investment managers, asset owners, investment consultants and beneficiaries), scale up engagement, and “lend with strings attached”.

Making lending more conditional could happen at various stages, the PRI said, such as by structuring debt issuance with features such as variable coupons, margin ratchets or covenants.

“Additionally,” the PRI said, “sovereigns could be asked to redirect capital to certain sectors or to implement reforms when debt instruments need refinancing or in the event of debt res

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