Our Annual Stewardship report details our efforts to drive positive ESG changes. What did companies get right and what did they fail to do?
Speaker : Altaf Kassam
Earning season kicked off this week, the familiar circus of companies under promising and under delivering on their. Earning season kicked off this week, the familiar circus of companies under promising, and over-delivering on their results, trying to put the best spin on this quarter's achievements. SSGAs annual stewardship report tries to keep companies honest in these announcements and achievements, building on engagements with many of the thousands of companies that we invest in. Across the board, what we're seeing is that although a lot of good progress has already been made in combating climate chang, it's not happening quickly enough. And this is at a time when the risks of not being fully prepared for climate change or inaction in the face of obvious climate change have never been greater. Like with many other trends, COVID has accelerated the need for corporate transformation in the face of climate change.
And unfortunately, a lot of the easy gains have already been made. So for example, a lot of the companies which have been targeted with greenhouse gas reduction proposals have already now put ambitious carbon reduction proposals in place. And we're not in favor of a lot of the overly prescriptive proposals, which have been put forward, which are too specific, tend to limit companies and not really addressed the issues of climate change. What we do think though, is that earth day on the 22nd of April should focus matters a lot. And in particular, the need for US companies to step up under the Biden administration.
So for example, last year, we saw a lot of companies at the beginning of 2020 in European oil, step up and produce voluntary carbon reduction proposals, which were very ambitious and not spurred by shareholder action. In contrast, their US peers did not follow suit. What we hope is that through a process of engagement, we will encourage the US peers to step up like their European ones. At the same time, we also hope to increase our focus on sectors, which although not directly carbon intensive, are at the forefront of dealing with climate change, for example, finance. And here we'll be looking at issues like the financing of fossil fuels and what measures are in place to address the issues of climate change. And we realize that we're under scrutiny ourselves as one of the world's largest asset managers, our shareholders are asking us not only what we can do for their bottom line, but what we can do for the planet as well. So we ourselves have described, uh, climate change as a slow burning pandemic and what I think is as the fog of COVID lifts, we will find that dealing with climate issues will become as, if not more important for shareholders, as dealing with traditional financial metrics and better for the planet too.
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Exp. Date: 3/31/2022