The world must become carbon neutral by 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, and ideally to 1.5 degrees. Trying to cut company carbon emissions has been the subject of engagement at Robeco for many years. A Net Zero 2050 Climate Equities fund was launched in July to invest in those companies that are focused on the climate transition.
In the second quarter, Robeco expanded its ‘Net-zero emissions’ theme, originally launched at the end of 2020, extending climate engagement to an additional 15 companies. Nick Spooner reports on the biggest changes to the theme, from expanded coverage to an even stronger focus on collaborative engagement.
Nearing the end of the 2022 AGM season, we take a moment to reflect on the key trends that have marked this year’s voting season, from hybrid AGMs to growing discussions around climate and remuneration. By highlighting some of the AGMs, Michiel van Esch demonstrates the importance of engaging companies around good governance.
Two engagement themes close
Single-use plastics have become an inherent part of our society, but the pollution they cause is catching up with us, calling for innovative solutions to make plastic more sustainable. As the theme closes, Sylvia van Waveren takes us along on her three-year engagement with companies from across the packaging value chain, reflecting on the challenging road to circularity.
As Covid-19 is slowly moving into the background, the team is closing its ‘Digital innovation in health care’ engagement theme. Laura Bosch reflects on the outcomes of the engagement program, as well as some of the key trends, opportunities and challenges that the digital transformation in the health care sector has brought about.
Contributing to the SDGs
Engagement around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains an important topic throughout Robeco, as the 17 goals provide a blueprint for a more sustainable future. Alexandra Mortimer shares the first insights into how our new SDG Engagement program, launched in 2021, uses investor leverage to accelerate corporate contributions to the goals, working with companies to integrate sustainable development within their strategy and business models.
Finally, having yet again filed thousands of votes throughout this year’s proxy season, voting specialists Diana Trif and Antonis Mantsokis share the key highlights of the 2022 proxy season, which was marked by a growing focus on shareholder rights, as well as niche topics, such as corporates’ approach to US abortion laws and an increasing number of disguised anti-ESG resolutions.
Ever-growing relevance of engagements
“The first half of 2022 has seen a lot of economic turmoil, from the Russia-Ukraine conflict disrupting energy and food markets, to growing uncertainty as inflation and interest rates rise across the world,” says Carola van Lamoen, Head of Sustainable Investing, in the report’s introduction.
“These global events underline the ever-growing relevance of our corporate engagements: from our accelerated engagements around net-zero carbon emissions that are now coinciding with European oil shortages, to our active participation in this year’s AGM season, where we have been emphasizing the increasing importance of responsible corporate governance.”
“And while economic upheaval has been dominating the agenda, climate change continues to take center stage, not only through our engagements, but also during the 2022 AGM season. The width of our engagement themes and the depth of our dialogues reflect the importance we attribute to sustainability as we move forward into the second half of 2022.”