ESG rating bias and the key role played by internal bottom-up ESG analysis

European Small Cap Equity

We’re regularly baffled by the ESG scores for companies we know are committed to a sustainable future

We are often vocal about the shortcomings of ESG ratings. This frustration is particularly acute for our European Small Cap Equity team who invest in companies that often do not have any coverage from ESG agencies. For those that are rated, the grades rarely reflect what we understand of the company through our bottom-up analysis and regular company interaction. We’re regularly baffled by the ESG scores for companies we know are committed to a sustainable future.

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Palm Oil

The spotlight in recent weeks has shifted back upon the palm oil industry. The negative connotations associated with the sector have continued to deepen, but there is a growing number of producers who offer a differentiated product, one made with a focus on sustainability. Worldwide, demand for the commodity has continued to rise which brings nations and climate activists to a crossroad, wondering whether sustainable palm oil can be produced whilst fighting climate change.

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Davos 2020

Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

Climate urgency

The attention of business leaders and experts on the climate emergency is higher than ever. This is what emerges from the latest Global Risks Report published every year on the eve of the launch of the World Economic Forum. For the first time, the 750 business leaders and experts from all over the world ranked five environmental and climate issues as the most important risks facing the world in the coming year. In particular, it is climate inaction, extreme events and biodiversity loss that concern world decision-makers, factors that hadn’t made the list before ten years ago.

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Digital Footprint

While you don’t see plumes of black smoke being released by the GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), you’d be wrong to assume they don’t have a significant environmental impact. Every search, click, or streamed video consume a huge amount of energy and sending a simple email has in reality a whole energy-intensive journey.

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Can fast fashion be sustainable?

Shopping streets around much of the world are lined with Christmas decorations, ready to welcome the hordes of shoppers in what is usually the busiest shopping period of the year. But there is a backlash emerging in response to our growing consumerism and the clothing industry is under increasing scrutiny. Not long since the flight shaming movement started, a new trend is gradually emerging in Nordic Countries: the Köpskam – literally the shame of buying, and mainly aimed at the fashion industry.

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Corporate culture

The social factors included within ESG analysis are wide-reaching, taking into consideration the relationship the corporation strikes with the multiple stakeholders involved in its business: customers, employees, suppliers and local communities.

One area of interest is how employee relations affect corporate value. For every company that we analyse from an ESG perspective we aim to understand employee satisfaction. KPIs reported by the firm such as employee training hours, staff turnover, and outcomes from staff satisfaction surveys can be valuable, as well as third party employer-rating platforms such as Glassdoor.

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PRI in Person event

Last month, the Quaero Capital ESG team attended the annual PRI event, this year held in Paris. The event was the largest responsible investment conference ever held, with over 1600 attendees from the industry.

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