The ESG investment trends to watch out for this year


Category: Investing

The ESG investment trends to watch out for this year

ESG investment means considering environmental, social, and governance factors when deciding how to invest. If you need further information, please have a read of our useful post on understanding ESG jargon.

This type of investing continues to grow and more investors are considering how they reflect their values in financial decisions. ESG covers a broad range of areas, but here are some of the trends set to affect ESG investing this year.

A busy logistics and transportation location with cargo ships illustrating an article on ESG investment trends

The rise of net zero pledges

As part of commitments to reduce companies’ contributions to climate change, many firms have already made pledges to reduce their carbon emissions. In 2022, it’s likely that more will make net zero pledges.

A net zero pledge means a company commits to removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as it adds. This involves companies reducing the amount of carbon they produce by making changes to their operations.

In addition, the number of companies that engage in carbon offsetting is also expected to rise. This will allow firms to offset those emissions they can’t remove from their process by supporting projects that remove emissions.

Some companies have already made net zero targets, including Microsoft, BT, Sainsbury’s, and PwC. The range of companies that have already committed highlights how it’s a trend that will cross different industries.

However, investors still need to keep greenwashing in mind. Greenwashing is where a company brands its products or initiatives as eco-friendly when this is not the case. ESG investments have also been under scrutiny for greenwashing.

Analysis conducted by the NewClimate Institute found that the climate pledges of 25 of the world’s largest companies in reality only commit to reducing their emissions by 40%, not 100% as terms like net zero suggest.

Addressing the social effects of climate change

Climate change has been high on the agenda for ESG investors for years. This agenda is now starting to incorporate social factors. This will help companies to understand how the consequences of climate change and policies will affect people and communities.

It’s a complex area that can cover many different things. It might consider how the direct consequences of climate change, such as more extreme weather events, will affect communities. It can also help companies understand how they should respond to these events. Or, it could examine how the transition away from fossil fuels will affect the progress of developing countries.

The push to consider the social effects of climate change is partly being driven by a pledge made at the COP26 climate conference in November 2021. The conference brought together governments and other parties to agree on action towards climate change goals. More than 30 countries pledged to support workers and communities that will be harmed by the transition to a green economy.

As ESG becomes more mainstream, we’ll likely see more combination of these core areas aiming to tackle complicated challenges.

Scrutinising supply chains

The last two years have highlighted how important supply chains for businesses are, and just how global.

Due to the pandemic, many firms experienced a disruption in their supplies and operations. Entire supply chains felt the effects of this disruption. Even now, some businesses are still struggling to access the materials and products they need to operate at the same level they did before the pandemic.

A robust supply chain can provide security for businesses. On top of this, whether a supply chain reflects a company’s ESG commitments will also come under closer scrutiny.

While this trend can provide more confidence for ESG investors, reviewing complex supply chains could present challenges for both companies and investors.

Pressure for companies to pay their “fair share”

The amount of tax that companies pay in the regions they operate has made headlines in the last few years. Again, the effects of the pandemic mean this trend will be in the spotlight even more.

As governments were forced to borrow more money to provide health and social support during the pandemic, taxes are expected to rise. As the tax burden increases for individuals, it’s anticipated there will be growing pressure for businesses to pay their “fair share”, particularly if they benefited from government support during the pandemic.

While large companies hire whole teams to ensure they pay the correct amount of tax in each jurisdiction, these teams will also use loopholes and reliefs to pay as little tax as possible. As pressure grows for companies to pay a “fair share” it will be interesting to see how this translates to company policy and investor action in 2022 and beyond.

Increasing demand for standardised reporting

As greenwashing becomes a key concern for investors, there will be an increased demand for regulation and reporting standards.

At the moment, it can be difficult to hold firms accountable if they make claims or set vague targets in their reports. This can also make it challenging for investors to compare different investment opportunities against their ESG criteria. To combat this, there will be an increase in demand for more standards.

This is a process that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has already begun. Last year, the FCA published a discussion paper on potential criteria for classifying and labelling investment products that would provide investors with more clarity. However, it’s likely to be a slow process and many years before standard reporting is seen across the industry.

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Would you like to consider ESG factors when you invest or review your investment portfolio? We’re here to help you understand how investing can help you reach your goals, even if your goals change. You can contact us at any time to ask questions or talk through things.

 

Please note:

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

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