State Street, the world’s third largest asset manager, has taken another step in its efforts to broaden corporate disclosures about climate change risks. It has joined 30 other financial institutions and pension funds in signing the Declaration of Institutional Investors on Climate-Related Financial Risks, which calls on publicly traded companies in Canada to enhance disclosure about their exposure to climate change risks and their efforts to address them.
Many of the largest of those companies are oil and gas producers and utility companies, which are among the biggest contributors to the gas emissions that are causing climate change. “This is especially important to Canada for that reason and a unique opportunity,” says Peter Lindley, president of State Street Global Advisors (Canada) Ltd.
There is no equivalent declaration in the U.S.
State Street is also a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which, among other goals, calls on institutional investors to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into their investment analyses and seeks disclosure on ESG issues by the companies in which they invest.
State Street supported almost 50% of the climate-related proposals at annual shareholder meetings last year, including at Exxon, where 62% of shareholders voted to require more disclosure about the risks to its business posed by policies designed to address climate change.
Its CEO has called on the corporate board members of oil and gas, utilities and mining companies to consider climate change a significant risk and adopt long-term strategies to address those risks.
“As providers of capital we’re concerned about climate-related risk … about how companies are dealing with that,” says Chris McKnett, head ESG strategist at State Street. “We need that information.”
McKnett says there “is no doubt” that companies now are increasing disclosure of sustainability issues but “that has not improved the quality of the information,” in part because the information provided is voluntary.
State Street, known for its SPDR ETFs, markets ESG ETFs, including a few that are fossil-free.