Listen to the thoughts of a leading European climate VC who are targeting a gigatonne impact in emissions reductions through investing in early stage climate startups and cutting edge innovations within the Energy, carbon removal, insurance, food systems and other sectors.
Materiality was again in the spotlight recently with launch of IFRS sustainability disclosure standards S1 & S2. Whilst the standards were generally welcomed as a significant step in creating a global baseline for corporate sustainability disclosures grounded in the best practices of accounting standards it was seen as controversial in some quarters. In a large part this was due to its approach to dealing with materiality and more specifically ‘double materiality’ — something largely avoided in the standards according to critics. Proponents highlight the mantra that “what can be measured can be managed” when suggesting that focusing on single materiality / materiality should be the priority for disclosing organisations and is thus the focus of these standards. Double materiality encompasses not just sustainability risks which impact a company’s financial performance but the degree to which that company’s products and activities impact the wider world — a philosophy more adopted in European standards such as in the work of EFRAG.
At Neural Alpha, we have been thinking about Air and Water pollution at sea. This notoriously challenging topic to track has profound ESG implications. Our new product, Responsible Capital News Screen, examines news stories worldwide (and at sea!) to identify reported ESG Events, such as bilge dumping, oil spills or stranded vessels. News screen identifies mentioned physical assets as well as their owners, enabling ESG professionals within asset management, banking and corporates to incorporate news flow into universe construction, monitoring & engagement, due diligence / screening and risk management requirements at scale without compromising on precision and context.
This blog is the first in a monthly series of free to subscribe newsletters covering the month’s most significant global ESG events, achievements, announcements, incidents, scandals and controversies powered by Responsible Capital News Screen. News Screen is an innovative, new data product launched by the team at Neural Alpha enabling ESG professionals within asset management, banking and corporates to incorporate news flow into universe construction, monitoring & engagement, due diligence / screening and risk management requirements at scale without compromising on precision and context. News Screen covers not only negative news flow but also positive news flow with reference to major company achievements, discoveries, inventions and other sustainability solutions covered by our models.
Trase Finance uses supply chain modelling to allocate annual commodity-specific deforestation risk in hectares to investors based on their total equity ownership in commodity traders exposed to deforestation via investing subsidiaries and fund shareholdings. For the first time this allows for a quantifiable and robust way to rank asset managers according to their exposure to deforestation risk.
Trase data estimates where a trader (and, by proxy, downstream companies that are customers of that trader) has significant exposure to a biome that is on a financial institutions’ exclusion list, subject to specific bank policy requirements (such as certification), or more broadly deemed an environmentally ‘sensitive’ location requiring more detailed screening.
Trase Finance – a collaboration between fintech company Neural Alpha, international non-profit research and policy organisation the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and NGO Global Canopy – seeks to identify second-order environmental impacts in supply chains, enabling transparency and shedding light on the hidden risks and opportunities that can materially influence financial and non-financial performance.
Paraguay is often overlooked in the deforestation debate despite hosting some of the highest rates in the world over the past decade. For 2019, Trase tracked over 200,000 hectares of deforestation associated with beef and soy exports in 2019 – an area larger than Greater London. This low profile has resulted in too little scrutiny of the finance linked to soft commodity trade and allowed financial institutions to skimp on the type of country and biome level policy commitments often applied to higher profile locations.