What can we learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic? / 我們能夠從冠狀病毒大流行中學到甚麼?

Idea Exchange – Karen Ho / 意見交流園地 – Karen Ho

It’s unbelievable to see what have happened in the world in the last 2 months. “Working from home’ and ‘social distancing’ become the new norm and we all have to embrace the new way of life. What wake you up during the night? Are you worried about being one of the “confirmed case”? Are you concerned about the impact to your business and job security? Are you scrambling to see the arrival of a bear market with your investment and currency being devalued?

With all those worries in your mind, is or should “Sustainability” become a lower priority?

Perhaps we can try different angle to rethink what we can learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic. Yes – many businesses are impacted, but which industries or companies are least impacted and actually could potentially benefit? Which companies or projects or sectors are more resilient to the disruptions to our economy?

What is obvious is that there would be a long-lasting effect on tourism and oil consumption. Both oil & gas and travel & leisure shares have been hammered in the last 2 months. The aerospace sector has also had a tough time. The crisis has also pushed investors toward defensive stocks or investments. This pandemic is proving the importance of pharmaceutical, health care, food and household goods. A sustainable business and investment are what we should focus now.

Who would have guessed, 2020 started with such a disastrous and painful experience to many of us?

“This is teaching all of us lessons about what it really means to stress test and model extreme scenarios,” said Emilie Mazzacurati, founder of Moody’s unit Four Twenty Seven Inc., a physical climate risk data firm. “We need to be able to think and stretch our imagination beyond what we have seen historically—in this case things that were unthinkable a few weeks ago, such as airlines shutting down and not driving, are now in place.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-25/coronavirus-is-a-stress-test-for-future-climate-shocks?srnd=green

全球於過去兩個月裏發生的事,真是令人難以置信。「在家工作」和「社交疏遠」成為新的社會規範,我們所有人都必須接受新的生活方式。晚上睡覺時甚麼把你弄醒了?你擔心會成為「確診案例」之一嗎?你是否擔心疫情對業務和職業安全的影響?看到熊市的到來,你會否為你的投資和貨幣貶值狀況而焦急起來?

在這些擔憂下,「可持續性」應該繼續被視為次要事項嗎?

也許我們可以嘗試以不同的角度重新思考人類從冠狀病毒大流行中可學到的知識。是的,很多企業受到影響,但是哪些行業或公司受到的影響最小、或實際上可能受益了?哪些公司、項目或行業在經濟衰退時更具彈性?

最顯而易見會受到長期影響的,便是旅遊業和石油消費。石油和天然氣、以及旅遊和休閒股在過去兩個月中均表現欠佳,航空太空業也度過了艱難的時期,這場危機還迫使投資者轉向支持防禦性股票或投資。另外,這場大流行亦證明了製藥、醫療保健、食品及家庭用品的重要性,我們現在最需要重點關注的是可持續的商業和投資。

誰曾想過,2020年剛開始,便為我們帶來如此災難性和痛苦的經歷?

穆迪(Moody)旗下、實體氣候風險資料公司Four Twenty Seven Inc.的創始人Emilie Mazzacurati表示:「(此次危機)正正給予我們學習的機會,了解進行壓力測試和模擬極端情況是怎樣一回事。」「我們需要有能力超越過去的歷史經驗,思考並擴大我們的想像力,幾周前我們無法預料的事情,例如航空公司關閉和停止運作現在已出現了。」

資料來源:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-25/coronavirus-is-a-stress-test-for-future-climate-shocks?srnd=green

香港,為何有需要與世界競爭綠色金融中心?

【意見交流園地】Johnny Wei, Analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance

根據彭博終端數據,2019年中國內地再度蟬聯全球第二大的綠債發行國,即使只考慮符合國際標準的總發行量,也達到298億美元——這個金額大約是同年本港綠債量的10倍。

內地的綠色債券,從2015年開始發行第一隻,翌年即達到全球最大,並將該優勢保持到2017。除了典型的綠色債券,內地已發展出綠色資產證券化(Green ABS)、綠色公募基金、可持續發展表現掛鉤貸款(Sustainability-linked Loan)等多種綠色金融形式。

自2018-2019年,由於美國在Fannie Mae(房利美)一家機構上發行巨額的相關綠金產品,超過了所有其它對手,故此連續兩年由美國奪得頭籌。

如果以經濟體考慮,歐盟才是最大的發行整體。其不僅有法國、德國、荷蘭、瑞典等積極參與綠色金融的成員國,作為超主權主體,歐盟本身都有跟進綠債的發行、標準審定等工作。

實質上,我們站在今日回眸,已經看到綠色金融成為世界主要經濟體的最新一個競爭前沿。

香港終於在去年5月推出1,000億港元的「主權綠色債券」,帶動了一批地產商拿出自己的方案。但配套政策其實仍不足夠。與先進國家相比,本港在製定綠色標準、啟發發行人使用綠色產品、吸引偏好綠色的全球投資者方面,仍有距離——新加坡、東京、甚至鄰近的澳門,目前在綠色金融方面的野心亦已清晰可見。

一家公司、一個行業、一片地區,參與綠色金融的好處不僅包括降低融資成本和提升社會聲譽,事實上還能進一步,幫助它在全球範圍搜羅優質資金,定位未來持份者。如果採取常規金融途徑,它可能永遠不能企及最前瞻、最負責任的投資者。

放眼神州,2015年底,中國推出《綠色債券支持項目目錄》,成為全球首個對綠債推出官方版範疇定義的國家。 2018年9月,中國證監會修訂《上市公司治理準則》,規定上市公司要將生態環保要求融入發展戰略和公司治理。

針對之前部分綠債評估「欠綠」、有欠嚴格的問題,中國證監會現已跟人民銀行聯合發布《綠色債券評估認證行為指引》,務求強化對綠色項目的盡職調查,令全球投資者更為放心。其後在2019年,人民銀行牽頭對《綠色債券支持項目目錄》進行修訂,焦點交鋒在於能否移除「清潔煤技術」——困難來自政府內外的不同持份者,但總算在凝聚改革向前的​​共識。

英國《金融時報》在情人節報導,美國華爾街(Wall Street)高級管理層已開始找到了新的綠色「情人」——他們發現,如果不回應投資者和社會對於應對氣候變化的訴求,很可能最後會兩敗俱傷。報導說,這種感受和壓力,在華爾街從未如此強烈。如果各地的渾身解數,本港仍看不到、不跟上,我們就會白白錯失世界金融發展的新機遇,以後能否繼續擔當亞洲金融中心,終有一日會成疑。

Dealing with Waste – Asia’s Ongoing Challenge / 亞洲的持續挑戰 – 廢物管理

Alexandra Tracy, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK) / 香港地球之友綠色金融顧問Alexandra Tracy

As the coronavirus continues to create difficulties for us in our daily lives, perhaps one surprisingly welcome outcome from the outbreak is the attention it has brought to another significant challenge for our region – dealing with waste. 

Newspaper articles last week (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3065049/coronavirus-china-struggling-deal-mountain-medical-waste-created) reported that China is struggling to deal with a “mountain of medical waste” created by the epidemic, noting that “tonnes of discarded face masks pile up around the country.” 

The capacity of China’s waste treatment industry to handle the current volume of clinical waste is woefully inadequate.  A significant number of dedicated incineration facilities were built after the SARS outbreak, but most are near the end of their operating lives, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

While medical waste is particularly in focus at the moment, this is just part of the larger problem of the waste treatment sector across the region.  Solid waste, in particular single use plastics, is still managed extremely poorly, with huge amounts of plastic pollution ending up in the ocean.

In addition to the weak oversight of waste treatment in some Asian countries, insufficient investment is a major factor constraining improvements in refuse management.  A recent Ocean Conservancy report identified a net financing gap for plastic waste collection of between US$28 and US$40 per ton in the top five ocean polluting countries in the world: China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Policy makers and companies are beginning to prioritise better waste management, but the financial markets need to catch up.  Just 4% of green bonds issued to date explicitly tackle waste reduction.  Only three companies globally have completed specific fund raisings, although other corporates, such as Apple, have dedicated part of their green bond proceeds to waste reduction.

But there are also positive signs of investor interest in tackling the solid waste problem in Asia, especially targeting ocean clean up.  For example, Circulate Capital recently announced the launch of a US$106 million fund to reduce plastic pollution in the ASEAN region by investing in treatment and recycling, as well as new materials.  The company has reportedly identified more than two hundred potential investment opportunities.

According to the International Finance Corporation, as much as US$120 billion of value is lost through packaging that enters the environment.  This presents a huge opportunity for investors.  Better prevention, reuse, recycling and energy recovery could also achieve significant emissions reductions, which could be as much as 15% of the global total.

新型冠狀病毒疫症持續為人類的日常生活帶來麻煩,但這場疫症亦有可能同時提醒著我們、並帶出了亞洲地區另一重大挑戰 – 廢物管理。

上週有傳媒報導(https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3065049/coronavirus-china-struggling-deal-mountain-medical-waste-created),中國正努力應對這場疫症造成的「海量醫療廢物」,並指出「全國各地堆積了大量廢棄的口罩」。

中國廢物管理工業處理當前醫療廢物量的能力嚴重不足。根據中國生態環境部所述,大量的專用焚化爐都是在沙士爆發後建成,但大多數的使用壽命將至。

儘管目前我們最為關注醫療廢物,但這個問題只是亞洲地區廢物管理上的一部分而已。都市固體廢物、特別是一次性塑膠的管理仍然非常不足,大量的棄置塑膠最終還是排進了海洋。

一些亞洲國家除了在廢物管理上監管不足外,缺乏足夠投資也是限制著廢物管理改善的主要因素。海洋保護協會(Ocean Conservancy)最近一份報告指出,全球頭五大海洋污染國家:中國、泰國、印尼、菲律賓及越南,他們的塑膠垃圾收集的淨資金缺口為每噸28美元至40美元。

政府和企業已開始陸續把優質廢物管理優先排序,但是金融市場仍必須盡快迎頭趕上。迄今為止,僅有4%的已發行綠色債券明確地投放在減廢措施,而儘管蘋果公司等企業已將其綠色債券收益的一部分專門用作減廢,全球仍只有三間企業完成相關籌資。

即使如此,現時還是有積極的跡象表明,有亞洲投資者有興趣解決固體廢物問題,尤其是針對海洋清潔。例如,Circulate Capital最近宣布啟動一項總值1.06億美元的基金,投資在垃圾處理、回收以及發展新材料,減少東盟地區的塑膠污染。據了解,該公司已經發現了多達200個潛在投資機會。

根據國際金融公司(International Finance Corporation)的數據,產品包裝物料長期流入環境,造成高達一千二百億美元的損失。此數據正代表著投資者的龐大機會,當中包括更理想的預防措施、循環再用、回收和轉廢為能,這也可以實現大幅度減排,數量能高達佔全球總量的15%。

Photo source / 圖片來源:United Nations Environment Programme Flickr

抗疫看ESG

黃思靈 香港地球之友綠色金融顧問

全球最近應該都在努力抗疫吧?每天新聞報導的都是新增了多少確診個案,口罩、消毒用品的行情… 大家覺得這疫情其實跟ESG有沒有關係呢?

筆者並非想暗示災害是人為,但危機發生了,追究原因固然重要,但如何應對卻是更刻不容緩,同時也是體現ESG價值的時候。ESG的核心其實就是透過管治,從而減少對環境、社區的影響,或是在危機爆發時有足夠準備,降低損失。因應新型肺炎,大家都避免上街,那平常的經濟活動怎麼辦?在家工作、叫外賣、線上繳費、更多的網購… 原來大家都還真有本事長期宅家不出門,只是這一切都需要事先準備好,有配套才行。所以無論一個國家、一個政府、一家企業,想要持續發展,都應該認真看待ESG。

社會已經享受慣現代的消耗模式,要回復過去原始簡樸的日子根本不可能。日常生活中徹夜響應ESG有點複雜,但利用ESG或sustainable investment可能相對簡單,把錢投放到對ESG有利的項目,間接鼓勵和支持ESG發展。筆者最近才發現,原來世界銀行在2017年伊波拉病毒後發行了一個「瘟疫債券」,債券給予持有人最高逾一成的高息,只是萬一觸發符合疫症大流行的條款,則把部份資金用作支援發展中國家抗疫,不會全數發還本金。至於武漢肺炎,中國監管機構亦鼓勵發行「肺炎債」,把審批過程從數星期縮短到幾天,同時敦促國有銀行購買這些債券。發債企業亦必須承諾將至少10%的集資金額用於抗疫。而自2月起計,已有超過25家中國企業發行「肺炎債」,合共融資240億元人民幣。

截至今天,筆者已經有一個多月沒有步出過家門了。希望這種困難的日子快點過去,大家在使用大量一次性口罩來保障自身的同時,也可以想想如何在ESG方面一同出一分力,這才能改善以後的生活質素喔!

The Financialization of Negative Externalities

Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

Arguably the greatest driver of innovation and growth in our capitalistic society is the attachment of a financial value to a measurable metric. This has been the underpinning motivation for many bright scientists and entrepreneurs throughout our modern age in its quest for more, and as the system has promised, those who succeed have been rewarded handsomely through financial means.

However, the endless pursuit of growth in the modern era has resulted in significant and perhaps unsustainable alterations in our very own biosphere, be it the rising average annual temperatures, increasing risk of drought, and the ever-present threat of rising sea levels to our coastal habitats. In the face of these risks, our society seems to have delegated the responsibility of solving issues of sustainability to multilateral government organizations and not-for-profit bodies. And since the Kyoto protocol in 1997, it is not surprising that an observer would argue that real progress has yet to be achieved. Perhaps we should take a lesson from the corporate world by financialising negative externalities and thus attaching explicit financial value to metrics of sustainability? Then perhaps a few bright minds of our generation would pursue sustainability as they would grow in the traditional capitalist sense?

Coase Theorem and the Cap and Trade Program

In fact, the financialization of sustainability metrics is not new. Ronald Coase, one of the fathers of modern economics in his Coase theorem states that “if trade in an externality is possible and there are sufficiently low transaction costs, bargaining will lead to a Pareto efficient outcome regardless of the initial allocation of property…given clearly defined property rights…the result is the economic efficiency of an economic allocation or outcome” (Coase 1960).

Formulated in 1960, this theorem has been the foundation of the cap-and-trade (CAT) market used in the US Acid Rain Programme and the European Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). These programs have proven that market mechanisms based on Coasean bargaining is an effective solution in the integrated approach of tackling sustainability issues through the combination of public policy and private initiatives (Chou, Ho 2018). The policymakers define the property rights and set a ceiling for the production of negative externalities, leaving private participants to find an economically efficient bargaining outcome that drives forward measures of sustainability.

Integration into Financial Reporting and Corporate Performance Measurement

While current gradual standardization of Corporate, Social, and Governance reporting in corporate financial reports is a good step forward, it does not do enough to motivate corporate stakeholders in their quest to achieve sustainability targets. Given the effectiveness of previously discussed applications of Coasean bargaining, perhaps we should consider a broader reform of our capital markets.

This could take the form of an inclusion of a range of financialized negative externalities metrics into standard financial reporting which would have direct impact towards a corporation’s share price performance. For example, iPhone’s parent company Apple is estimated to earn around 177% gross margin per iPhone it sells, however, this does not account for the negative externalities it incurs during its production process. For instance, the loss of food production from the conversion of agricultural land into factories, or the industrial waste which pollutes nearby rivers and contaminates land. Introducing financialized metrics of negative externalities into Apple’s financial reporting would certainly cause the relevant stakeholders to strive for sustainability in a measurable way.

This proposal will certainly encounter significant and substantial pushback given the vested interests in our current system, however in the face of imminent threat to the odds of mankind’s survival in this biosphere, isn’t it worth every effort from public policymakers as well as private stakeholders to pursue?

References
Coase, R. H. (1959). The federal communications commission. The Journal of Law and
Economics, 2, 1–40 (Oct).
Coase, R. H. (1960). The problem of social costs. The Journal of Law and Economics, 3(1),
1–44.
L.H.T. Choy, W.K.O. Ho (2018). Building a low carbon China through Coasean bargaining. Habitat International 75 (2018) 139–146
Su, J (2018). The $1,250 iPhone XS Max Costs Apple $450 To Make, Nearly A 200% Profit Margin. Forbes Online (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2018/09/27/the-1250-iphone-xs-max-costs-apple-450-to-make-nearly-a-200-profit-margin/#5596414d4966)

Friends of the Earth (HK) Response to the “2020-21 Budget” / 香港地球之友回應2020-21年度財政預算案

The Government announced the “2020-21 Budget” today. Climate change is happening and getting worse. Hundreds of governments around the world have declared emergency state of climate emergency in 2019. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent; heat-related illnesses and vector-borne diseases are becoming more common. Hong Kong Government must adopt emergency response to climate change. Friends of the Earth (HK) [FoE (HK)] welcomes the HK$200 million Green Tech Fund to support R&D and the application of decarbonisation and green technologies. 

At the same time, FoE (HK) is disappointed that the Government has not devoted a sufficient budget for promoting green finance. Hong Kong is one of the world’s major financial centres, but lags behind in terms of its green finance commitment. Hong Kong is placed 35th according to the latest Global Green Finance Index. Simon Mak, CEO of Friends of the Earth HK said, “To build up the green finance market in Hong Kong, the Government needs to issue a series of green bonds with different durations of different terms. Our recommendation is for the government to issue these bonds at frequent intervals to build up the capital market.”

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We propose the following recommendations to build a healthy and sustainable environment for Hong Kong.

Expedite Green Finance Development

The Government should formally endorse and promote recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), and require major asset owners to fully adopt the “Principles of Responsible Ownership” by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Main Board-listed companies and banks should publish ESG reports aligning with TCFD recommendations and the Government needs to develop an open-access management information system to store, manage, and analyse the ESG data submitted.

The Financial Services & Treasury Bureau (FSTB) should support and fund green finance training and education. New specialised programmes on green finance need to be created and elements of green finance and sustainability should be incorporated into existing courses in Universities and Business Schools. 

There is a need for better policy coordination. The government should appoint a Green Finance Commissioner under the Financial Secretary Office (FSO) to provide leadership and oversight to speed up the development of green finance industry in Hong Kong. 

In addition to providing incentives to develop new green financial products such as green mortgages and ESG-linked exchange traded funds, the Government should work with the Insurance Authority (IA) and the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) —to require insurers and pension funds to incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions and trustee approval.

Encourage Green Transportation

Both the HK$80 million earmarked fund to electrify green public light buses and the HK$2 billion pilot subsidy scheme for the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in private residential estates are welcomed. The Government should also continue to provide financial incentives for commercial EVs, with decarbonising public transportation as the ultimate goal. The Government also should explore the potential of developing a hydrogen economy to replace fossil fuels as a transport fuel.

Improve Energy Efficiency

Energy saving plays the key role on reducing carbon emissions. The lion’s share of electricity generated in Hong Kong goes to meeting building energy demand. More than 3,600 buildings in the city are over 50-years old with varying energy performance. We urge the Government to expedite the transformation of the city’s electricity grid into a smart grid, providing real-time feedback to grid operators and end-users to enhance energy efficiency. The Government also should provide incentives to help building owners to adopt energy-efficient designs and technologies and retrofit existing buildings.

Adapt Climate Change

Hong Kong is particularly susceptible to flooding and storm surges as a coastal city. The Government must allocate more resources to ramp up coastal defence infrastructures and adopt sponge city designs. Healthcare capacity needs to be expanded as well to tackle heat-related illnesses and vector-borne diseases as they become more common. At the same time, climate change will make the world less water secure. The Government must develop alternative sources of freshwater other than Dongjiang water, such as water reclamation and desalination.

Support Waste Management 

The volume of municipal solid waste going into the landfills continue to be on the rise. The Government must allocate resources including financial incentives to upgrade the local recycling industry. As the same time, they should establish materials recovery facilities throughout the 18 districts in Hong Kong to support clean recycling. 

港府今天發表2020-21年度財政預算案。氣候變化正在發生,並且愈趨嚴重,世界各地數百政府經已在2019年宣布進入氣候緊急狀態。極端天氣狀況愈發頻繁,熱病及傳病媒介疾病亦變得越來越普遍,香港政府必須對氣候變化採取緊急應對措施。香港地球之友歡迎政府撥款二億元成立低碳綠色科研基金的決定,以支持減碳技術和綠色科技的研發及應用。

但同時,本會對港府並沒有為促進綠色金融投入足夠的預算感到失望。香港是全球主要的金融中心之一,但本港在發展綠色金融方面卻十分落後。根據最新《全球綠色金融指數》,香港排名僅第35位。香港地球之友行政總裁麥沛霖先生表示:「要在香港建立綠色金融市場,政府需要發行一系列不同期限和條款的綠色債券。本會提倡政府定期發行這些債券以建立資本市場。」

正所謂預防勝於治療,本會將提出以下建議,希望政府能為香港建立一個更健康、可持續的環境。

加快綠色金融發展

政府應正式認可及推廣氣候相關財務披露工作小組(TCFD)的報告。主板上市公司、主要資產擁有者及銀行應發布符合TCFD建議的ESG報告,並完全採用證監會(SFC)的《負責任的擁有權原則》。港府需要開發一個開放的資訊管理系統,以便儲存、管理和分析所提交的ESG數據。

財經事務及庫務局應支持及資助綠色金融培訓及教育。有關綠色金融的專才計劃亦需推行,並將綠色金融及可持續性要素納入大學和商學院現有課程。

政策協調必須加強。港府應在財政司司長旗下委任一位綠色金融專員,以便領導、監督及加快本港綠色金融業發展。

除了開發新的綠色金融產品(例如綠色抵押貸款和與ESG相關的交易所買賣基金)外,政府還應與保險業監管局及積金局合作,要求保險公司和社保基金將ESG因素納入投資決策和受託人核准。

提倡綠色運輸

本會歡迎港府撥款8,000萬港元發展電動公共小巴,以及資助合資格的現有私人住宅樓宇停車場安裝基礎設施的20億港元先導計劃。但政府應繼續為商用電動車提供經濟誘因,並以減少公共運輸的碳排放為最終目標。港府更應積極探索發展氫經濟,以取代化石燃料作為運輸燃料。

提升能源效率

節能在減少碳排放中起關鍵作用。本港產生的大部分電力均用作滿足建築能源需求,而全港擁有超過50多年歷史的建築高達3,600座,它們的能源性能參差。本會敦促政府加快將全港電網改造為智能電網,為電網運營商和終端用戶提供實時數據反饋,以提升能源效率。政府還應提供優惠措施,資助業主採用節能設計與技術去改造及翻新現有建築物。

適應氣候變化

作為沿海城市,香港特別容易遭受洪水和風暴潮影響。政府必須分配更多資源,加強沿海防禦基建設施並採用海綿城市設計。隨著熱病和傳病媒介疾病愈趨流行,本港的醫療措施也需要有所加強。同時,氣候變化將降低全球的水源安全性,政府必須開發除東江水以外的其他淡水來源,例如再造水及海水淡化 。

支持廢物管理

本港棄置於堆填區的都市固體廢物數量繼續上升。政府必須增加資源,例如提供經濟誘因,完善本港的回收產業。同時,政府應在全港18區建立資源回收設施,以支持潔淨回收。

Photo source / 圖片來源: HK01

突破零排放 負排放成新趨勢

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問

因應氣候變化急劇惡化,全球包括香港在內,於2019年經歷了135年來最暖的冬天,全球各地的學者和專家一致認為,減少碳排放刻不容緩,而終極目標是讓地球每年達到「淨零」排放,意味人類需要對每年排放的碳進行等量消除。要實現這樣的目標,便需要採取更積極的減排措施、借助新技術以及創新的公共政策。

2015年,聯合國氣候變化大會呼籲全球需在2050年前達成零碳排放目標之後,Carbon Neutral(碳中立)成為了商界的熱門議題,國際大型企業亦相繼響應。然而,在碳中立並未普及到亞洲市場的時候,卻有國際企業在2020年先拔頭籌,訂下艱巨的減碳目標,突破零排放,向負排放進發。

今年1月,在微軟雷德蒙德總部的一個活動上,微軟總裁 Brad Smith、微軟首席財務長 Amy Hood 以及微軟首席執行長Satya Nadella宣布微軟計劃在 2030 年實現Carbon Negative(碳負排放),並在2050年從環境中去除該公司自1975年成立以來,直接或通過用電排放的所有碳。

分階段計劃 從零至負排放

這項具前瞻性的計劃將以分階段形式進行,並預計微軟在 2030 年可將碳排放量減少超過一半以上,包括由該公司營運直接排放,以至微軟整個供應鏈和價值鏈所產生的排放。與此同時,微軟將加強早於2012年開始推行的內部碳稅政策(2019年調費,將費率上調至每公噸碳排放 15 美金),從原來的收費範圍僅局限於該公司直接排放,拓展至企業供應鏈和價值鏈的合作夥伴。有關收益將用作支持實現碳負排放目標。

微軟還提出了一項倡議,藉著資源上的優勢和技術,推動全球各地供應商和客戶減少他們的碳足跡。為此,微軟將開發和部署數位科技,以及撥款 10 億美元設立氣候創新基金,從減少碳排放、碳捕獲和碳消除技術著手,促進行業發展。2021年起,微軟將提升供應商對碳排放的要求,在供應鏈採購流程中明確標明此為甄選供應商的條件之一。所有新的舉措和發展進程均可於公司未來的的《環境可持續發展報告(Environmental Sustainability Report)》中看到分析和解說。

香港減碳策略 滯後國際

借鑒微軟艱巨卻極具策略性的減碳目標,僅僅一間企業已能夠引起全球性的迴響,願意就全球的可持續發展肩負起社會責任,但香港作為一個先進城市,打著國際金融都會的牌頭,卻一直在可持續發展議題上落後國際市場。

香港政府環境局轄下的可持續發展委員會於2019年就香港的長遠減碳策略進行諮詢,當中包含了不少有助達成低碳社會的方向性建議,但若細看,有一部分的建議其實是不斷「重複」,例如推動低碳交通、節約能源和電力公司進一步減碳等,卻從未有任何落實的時間表。相反,英國倫敦已計劃在2021年全面採用電動的士,取代舊有柴油的士。

當全球城市陸續有不同的減碳策略出台,但香港卻在可持續發展議題上原地踏步,相信香港的競爭力也只會每況愈下。

ESG調查反映市場不足 改善政策成關鍵

【意見交流園地】 團結香港基金副總幹事兼公共政策研究院院長 黃元山、研究員 江俊燊、助理研究員 羅文婷

全球急劇暖化、貧富差距擴大的陰霾下,環境、社會及管治(ESG)一躍成為環球投資焦點,備受多國央行和監管機構重視。

放眼歐洲、美國、日本等地,ESG投資正急速崛起,其全球規模在2018年已逾30萬億美元。反觀香港,雖貴為國際金融中心,在ESG投資上卻遠遠落後於國際同儕。證監會上月公布的ESG調查就顯示,本港資產管理公司(asset management companies)不論在ESG投資管理還是ESG披露方面,表現均未如資產擁有人(asset owners)的期望。這說明,監管機構必須介入,提升政策法規的要求,讓資產擁有人不會所託非人,滿足他們對ESG投資的要求和期望。

接受證監會ESG調查的794家活躍資產管理公司中,雖然逾八成表示曾在投資過程裏考慮過至少一項ESG因素,但當中僅約29%有系統地將ESG因素納入投資及風險管理過程當中,反映本港大部分資產管理公司仍未認真對待ESG議題。此外,雖然大多數受訪的資產擁有人都期望資產管理公司能辨識、評估和管理氣候變化相關的投資風險,但在上述794家公司中,僅約19%設立了管理氣候風險的流程。有受訪資產擁有人指出,本港資產管理公司在聯繫客戶和進行合適性評估的過程中幾乎沒有探討過氣候風險,可見資產擁有人的期望與資產管理公司的實踐之間有着明顯落差。

在透明度方面,資產管理公司的ESG披露顯然不足。雖有660家資產管理公司表示會在投資中考慮ESG因素,但當中近七成坦言未有提供自身ESG實務運作的資料,而會披露其氣候風險評估工作的更是寥寥。所有受訪資產擁有人均表示,改善ESG透明度對減低漂綠(greenwashing)風險尤其重要。資產擁有人希望了解ESG相關的實證數據和效益、政策落實情況、投資理念闡述、分析工具使用、與企業溝通的成效和投票紀錄等實質內容,而不是空洞的營銷論述。

監管訊號應更明確

香港ESG市場發展遲緩,亟待政策制定者和監管機構注入動力。團結香港基金在去年5月發表ESG倡議報告,為香港的ESG發展提出十三項政策建議。我們樂見證監會採取積極行動,通過是次調查了解資產管理業界現況,並提出下一階段措施。證監會在報告末提出了三項短期舉措,包括(1)設定對資產管理公司的期望、(2)提供指引並加強培訓和(3)成立業界小組促進交流。當中後兩點與基金會建議方向一致,提升行業能力確是改善行業表現的基礎,而改善溝通協調則有利監管發展。若能盡快有效落實,相信將為香港ESG投資進一步發展奠立基礎。

至於第一項舉措,對於作為監管機構的證監會理應至為重要。我們樂見證監會在報告裏表示將在管治和監督、投資管理、風險管理和披露等方面設定資產管理公司應達到的標準。然而,證監會並未就相關標準提出明確的願景或方向;我們認為,證監會應以聯合國《負責任投資原則》(Principles for Responsible Investment, “PRI”)為基礎,制定相關標準或直接擴展現時香港的《負責任的擁有權原則》(Principles of Responsible Ownership, “PRO”),將ESG整合由企業參與層面拓展至整個投資過程。PRI和PRO最大的分別是,PRO僅鼓勵投資者在自願基礎上參與所投資企業的ESG事宜,並未涉及投資分析、決策、披露等過程。相較之下,PRI就更強調ESG在整個投資過程中的整合。若證監會的監管體制能與PRI接軌,將推動ESG進一步扎根於香港資本市場。

此外,證監會亦未就監管力度發出明確訊號。報告中的英文原文僅表示會對資產管理公司「設定期望」(set expectations),字詞上略顯含糊和寬鬆。目前證監會的PRO僅屬自願性質,在市場自身缺乏動力時較難發揮推動作用;若證監會即將制定的ESG標準亦以自願形式推行,恐怕成效不彰。有見歐洲各地對於投資者的ESG監管體制多已採取強制性或「不遵守就解釋」(comply-or-explain)的監管要求,證監會亦應將ESG監管要求提升到至少「不遵守就解釋」的水平,以鼓勵公司認真對待ESG事宜。

目前香港ESG發展主要由監管機構推動,包括證監會、港交所、金管局等均先後推出不同措施。香港政府在綠色債券發展方面固然有功,但在其他範疇如ESG方面則顯得較消極無為。去年《施政報告》亦未見任何關於ESG的措施,難免令人失望。事實上,要全面推動香港ESG發展,政府的角色乃不可或缺。

政府應更積極參與

以證監會的措施為例,成立業界小組固然有助溝通協調,但局限於證監會與行業專家之間的交流,實難以全面規劃香港的ESG發展。在ESG生態系統中,企業、投資者、資產擁有人、服務提供者和政策制定者之間環環相扣。一個完整的ESG發展策略必須考慮到當中每一個環節,亦因此需要全面的交流和協調。當中,政府就很適合擔當協調者的角色,設立一個涵蓋整個ESG生態系統的跨界別督導委員會,為香港ESG發展制定全面藍圖。2019年7月英國政府發布了完整而詳盡的《綠色金融策略》,其跨界別綠色金融工作組在策略制定過程中扮演重要角色,當中的經驗就十分值得香港政府借鑑。

文章原載《信報財經新聞》2020年1月22日

Investors’ alert: 2020 could be the year of ‘natural capital’ / 投資者警示:2020年可能是「自然資本」年

Alexandra Tracy, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK) / 香港地球之友綠色金融顧問 Alexandra Tracy

The year 2020 may be the one in which “natural capital” moves onto the agenda of the mainstream investor community.

Natural capital is a way of thinking about natural resources – such as water, land, forests and clean air – as assets that provide a flow of benefits, or “ecosystem services” to people and the economy.  These services include food and the natural regulation of the environment and climate.

In total, it is estimated that nature provides more than US$70 trillion a year of goods and services essential to a successfully functioning global economy.

However, increasing pressures on nature are degrading the resources on which we depend at an unprecedented rate. Here in Asia, rapid economic growth has taken a high toll from the environment, leading to a deterioration of land, freshwater and marine ecosystems, as well as severe impacts on biodiversity.

Happily, better preservation and management of natural resources is starting to be recognised as a crucial element of the transition to a sustainable and low carbon future.  At UN Climate Week in New York in September, nature-based solutions – such as preventing deforestation, increasing reforestation, improving soil health and safeguarding wetlands and coastal areas – featured prominently. Protecting and leveraging natural ecosystems could provide nearly 40% of the emissions reductions needed to meet the Paris climate agreement’s goal for 2030.

Responding to environmental challenges

In recent years, investors have increasingly been seeking to respond to the challenges of environmental degradation and looming climate change.  This means understanding how the companies in which they invest are themselves taking action to manage these issues, and, in some cases, putting capital directly into investments that both generate a financial return and a measurable environmental result.

Companies that depend on commodities such as timber, palm oil, soy or cattle are under growing pressure from investors to commit to reducing or eliminating deforestation from their supply chains and to prioritise sustainable sourcing.  Some companies are already investing directly in ecosystem protection.

For example, IKEA Group has put millions of dollars into acquiring sustainably managed forest lands to ensure a supply of Forest Stewardship Council certified timber products and paper. Unilever has also made a number of strategic investments in processing facilities and local suppliers in order to bolster its long term sourcing of sustainable palm oil.

Investing directly

Investment in natural capital sectors such as sustainable forestry, agriculture, fisheries, water and natural habitat is accelerating globally.  In some cases, public capital is being leveraged to mobilise private investors, such as through the World Bank’s Forest Investment Programme and a number of initiatives by the Global Environment Facility to protect marine areas, encourage sustainable small scale fisheries and reduce ocean pollution.  The UN Green Climate Fund is also funding several nature-based solutions, including the restoration of wetland and stream ecosystems in four cities in Laos.

Meanwhile, there is growing appetite from institutional investors for funds focusing on natural capital opportunities.  The more established managers, such as Althelia Ecosphere and Ecosystem Investment Partners, have completed a number of capital raises from institutions including pension funds and insurance companies.  More recently the Meloy Fund for Sustainable Small Scale Fisheries, focused on Indonesia and the Philippines, attracted investment from foundations and family offices in the region.

2020年可能是「自然資本」進入主流投資者議程的一年。

自然資本是將自然資源(例如水、土地、森林和潔淨空氣)視為提供給人類和經濟的利益流動或「生態系統服務」資產的一種看法。這些服務包括食物以及環境和氣候的自然調節。

據估計,自然界每年成功為全球經濟運作提供總值超過70兆美元的商品和服務。

但是,對自然日益增加的壓力正以前所未有的速度破壞我們賴以生存的資源。在亞洲,經濟快速增長為環境帶來沉重的負擔,導致土地、淡水和海洋生態系統惡化,並對生物多樣性造成嚴重影響。

令人鼓舞的是,人類現在已開始意識到加強保護及管理自然資源是過渡至可持續及低碳未來的關鍵因素。在去年9月於紐約舉行的聯合國氣候週上,針對大自然的解決方案(例如,防止森林開伐、增加植樹造林、改善土壤健康以及保護濕地及沿岸地區)成為重點討論項目。保護和善用自然生態系統可以實現《巴黎協定》內的2030年目標中所需的減排量近40%。

應對環境挑戰

近年來,投資者越來越尋求應對環境惡化和迫在眉睫的氣候變化挑戰的方法。他們需要了解其投資的企業如何採取行動來處理這些問題,並且在某些情況下,將資本直接投入到既能產生財務回報、又可平衡環境未來的投資中。

依賴木材、棕櫚油、大豆或牛等製品的公司正受到來自投資者越來越大的壓力,他們承諾減少或淘汰其供應鏈中的森林砍伐程序,並優先考慮具可持續性的採購。一些公司現已在生態系統保護上進行直接投資。

例如,宜家家居投資數百萬美元取得受可持續管轄的林地,以確保獲得森林管理委員會認證的木材產品和紙張供應。聯合利華則對加工設施和本地供應商進行多項戰略投資,以支撐其可持續棕櫚油的長期採購。

直接投資

全球可持續林業、農業、漁業、水和自然棲息地等自然資本部門的投資正在加速增長。在某些情況下,公共資本被用來動員私人投資者,例如通過世界銀行的森林投資計劃和全球環境基金的多項倡議,來保護海洋地區、鼓勵可持續的小規模漁業和減少海洋污染。聯合國綠色氣候基金還資助了多項針對自然的解決方案,包括恢復老撾四個城市的濕地和河流生態系統。

同時,機構投資者對專注於自然資本機遇的基金需求也越來越大。一些具實力的資產管理公司,例如Althelia Ecosphere和Ecosystem Investment Partners,已在養老基金和保險公司等機構完成多項融資。而最近,以印尼和菲律賓為主要目標的可持續小規模漁業基金Meloy吸引了該地區的基金會和家族企業進行投資。

現時的ESG標準真的符合社會責任嗎?

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問

社會責任投資(Social responsible investment)已有上百年歷史,近年更加受到重視。不少調查都指出,年輕新一代更關注自己投資組合背後的社會責任,綠色金融因此成為熱門議題,不少基金公司因而成立了所謂ESG 基金,標榜投資背後的社會責任。但ESG基金、或所謂ESG的ETF是否真的更符合社會責任?這個議題值得深思。

現時基金公司若希望成立ESG 基金,他們一般會向第三方服務公司買入上市公司的ESG評分數據,如我們到彭博的數據庫看一看,就知道現時全球有五大ESG 評分供應方,五大供應方的評分標準並不相同,就像信貸評級一般。若再仔細調查這五大評分供應方的評分方法,他們大部分都是以披露比率作為評分,即是某公司在ESG 的國際標準要求的各個披露項目下,披露得愈多愈詳盡,得分愈高,彭博自己就很明顯是用這個標準。這標準表面看起來合理,但深入一層思考,披露比例愈高,只表示公司透明度高,並不表示公司環保及社會責任的表現更好,但為甚麼評分公司不以表現較好作為評分?原因是因為行業不同,規模不一樣,以現時的ESG 國際標準來說,很難將兩間不同公司,以一個相同標準來評定好壞。

除了評分標準的問題,傳統的社會責任投資,最早期的選股方法我們稱為負面篩選,意思是投資方會篩選掉不符合社會責任的某些行業完全不作投資考慮,例如他們不會投資煙、酒、武器、色情等行業。但諷刺的是,在下曾經見過一家在澳門上市的賭場,他們的ESG 報告以現時的國際標準來說近乎完美,如果一個ESG 基金將其納入投資組合,就會變成投資標準比百多年前初期發展的社會責任基金都不如,這是否一個理性選擇?

筆者提出以上的問題,其實是沒有一個正確的意見或答案的,只是給大家思考,亦提醒大家即使買了ESG 基金,也不一定對地球生態有正面影響,只是我們走出了重要的一步、表態的一步,這一步雖然不知是否有效,但最低限度有助推動整個經濟組合向更正面方向發展,請大家不要小看自己的投入。