Hedge Funds and ESG

Karen Ho, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

The SFC climate risk circular will be effective in Aug 20 and Nov 20 this year. Many of the Hong Kong based Fund Managers are now working on improving their Governance structures, strengthening their investment and risk management process to address Climate related risk, and preparing for required disclosure on metrics and targets, including Portfolio Carbon footprint. Indeed, this change in regulatory policy is aligning with the global trend. Last year, the European Union led the way in trying to rein in the ESG boom by enforcing an anti-greenwashing rulebook: the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation.

While fund managers try to implement such changes and comply with such requirement, hedge funds globally are voicing growing frustration over what they say is an absence of clear regulations for one of their most popular investment strategies – Long Short strategy. Firms including Man Group Plc and BlueBay Asset Management LLP say disclosure rules for environmental, social and governance investing still don’t explain how hedge funds should account for short selling.

Take Portfolio Carbon Footprint calculations as an example, according to SFC:

Portfolio carbon footprint is a representation of carbon emissions normalised by the portfolio’s market value and expressed in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) per million dollars invested. Below is the formula for the calculation of portfolio carbon footprint:

The question is, when you have a Short Position, does it mean that we but shorting a stock which are high emitters, can potentially “off-set” all the emissions from the Long Positions?
There seems to be a debate globally on how we should treat those Short Selling strategies. Reporting on the ESG impact of short positions within portfolios can be challenging for hedge fund managers. They invest in a range of asset classes and financial instruments that are not always extensively covered by ESG data providers, and there is no industry standard for reporting the ESG impact of portfolios that combine long and short positions, according to UN PRI. The hedge fund industry and data vendors need to be innovative in their approach to measuring and reporting portfolio ESG exposures and impact, such as carbon footprints or net-zero targets.
Some managers argue that short selling — whereby an investor makes money if an asset such as an oil producer falls in value — should be booked as negative CO2 emissions. Others say an oil company doesn’t suddenly emit less CO2 just because it’s being targeted by short sellers. As for the regulators, they aren’t providing much help to resolve the debate.
Read more at: https://www.bloombergquint.com/markets/hedge-funds-split-over-short-sellers-impact-on-emissions-debate

地球日論壇2022 圓滿結束:香港氣候交易所前景可期 冀發揮區域性引領作用

為響應「地球日」,香港地球之友連同香港金融發展局於上周五合辦年度論壇「地球日論壇2022」,並以「香港氣候交易所的前景」為主題。論壇以焦點小組訪談形式閉門進行,大會榮幸邀請到財經事務及庫務局副局長陳浩濂先生, JP 為主禮嘉賓,同時邀請到香港監管機構代表、碳交易專家、環境學者、內地政策制定專家等出席,就建立香港氣候交易所的先決條件及內地與香港的跨境合作前景進行討論,剖析碳金融在香港未來的發展機遇。

香港地球之友主席吳方笑薇女士BBS 致歡迎辭時表示:「氣候變化是一個威脅人類生存的增速器,加快減碳和低碳轉型的行動刻不容緩。香港需要與各持份者及鄰近地區攜手合作,推動大灣區低碳轉型發展,成為緩解氣候危機的區域領航者。區域碳交易市場整合和大灣區氣候變化協作,是香港和大灣區共同應對和抵禦氣候應變的護身符。」

「作為中國和亞洲的國際金融中心,香港需要以合適的價格,為合適的項目調動更多資金,以滿足國家對世界減排承諾的需要。」 香港金融發展局(金發局)主席李律仁先生, SC 致開幕辭時表示:「這也促使我們金發局研究香港如何利用其世界級金融市場的優勢來實現自身的減排目標,更重要的是,幫助國家加快實現碳中和的目標。」


財經事務及庫務局副局長陳浩濂先生, JP 在論壇中表示:「香港在《全球金融中心指數》報告中排名全球第三,亞洲第一。亞洲領先金融中心的地位為香港帶來優勢成為區內綠色和可持續金融樞紐,籌集綠色和可持續資金及發行綠色金融產品。」


(財經事務及庫務局副局長陳浩濂先生, JP 於地球日論壇2022致辭。)
(左起:波士頓顧問公司董事總經理陳威震先生、香港地球之友行政總裁洪藹誠博士、香港地球之友副主席葉廣濤先生、香港地球之友主席吳方笑薇女士BBS、香港金融發展局主席李律仁先生, SC、香港金融發展局行政總監區景麟博士、中國節能環保(香港)執行董事及總經理楊巍先生、香港通用檢測認證知識及管理總監關靜儀女士)

Earth Forum 2022 Concluded Successfully: Hong Kong Climate Exchange Has a Promising Future, Hopes to Play a Leading Role in the Region

In support of Earth Day, Friends of the Earth (HK) and Financial Services Development Council jointly organized the annual forum “Earth Forum 2022” with the theme “The Prospect of Hong Kong Climate Exchange” on 22nd April. The forum was held in the form of focus group discussion with Mr. Joseph Chan, JP, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the Hong Kong SAR government as its officiating guest. Representatives from Hong Kong regulators, carbon trading experts, environmental scholars and Mainland policy makers were invited to discuss the prerequisites for the establishment of a Hong Kong Climate Exchange and the prospects for cross-border cooperation between the Mainland and Hong Kong, and to analyze the future opportunities of carbon finance development in Hong Kong.

Mrs. Mei Ng, BBS, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth (HK) mentioned in her welcoming remarks, “Climate Change is a threat multiplier. Action to speed up decarbonisation and low carbon transition is urgent. Hong Kong needs to join forces with stakeholders and our neighbours to promote Greater Bay Area as a regional leader to defuse the climate crisis. Regional carbon trading collaboration and the establishment of the Greater Bay Area Climate Exchange will help to make Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area climate ready and climate resilient.”

“Being the International Financial Centre of China and Asia, Hong Kong needs to mobilise more capital, at the right price, to the right projects to meet the needs of our country’s commitment to the world in carbon emission reduction.” Mr. Laurence Li Lu-jen, SC, Chairman of the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC), said in his opening remarks, “This has also prompted us at the FSDC to consider how Hong Kong could leverage its world-class financial market to achieve its own carbon emission reduction target, and more importantly, facilitate the national carbon neutrality goal.”

As climate change becomes a global consensus, countries around the world actively incorporate financial innovation in the carbon reduction system. The expert panel believes that carbon finance will provide new development to Hong Kong’s economic growth as an international financial center. By injecting more green funding, carbon finance will become an opportunity for the future of Hong Kong. In view of this, the forum focused on the prerequisites for the establishment of “Hong Kong Climate Exchange”, how to expedite the development of a carbon emissions trading market, and how to expedite the establishment of a unified carbon market in the Greater Bay Area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau to promote regional cooperation. Through the exchange of expert and analysis of the positioning of the global carbon trading market and the advantages of Hong Kong, the proposed “Hong Kong Climate Exchange” can be developed around high-quality and high-value carbon credits.

Mr. Joseph Chan, JP, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the Hong Kong SAR government said, “Hong Kong was ranked third in the world and first in Asia in the Global Financial Centres Index. The status of Asia’s leading international financial centre has well-positioned Hong Kong to be the region’s green and sustainable finance hub, raising green and sustainable capital and offering green financial products.“

The expert panel also mentioned that at present, Hong Kong is actively developing into a regional carbon trading center, accelerating the establishment of a unified carbon market in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and promoting the GBA as a regional leader in combating climate change. At the same time, as an important hub connecting the mainland and the world, Hong Kong can adopt a variety of transaction methods to actively promote the liquidity of the secondary market and develop carbon financial derivatives. By complementing the advantages of the GBA, Hong Kong can shape itself into the largest voluntary carbon trading market in Asia, or even globally.

Mr. Joseph Chan, JP, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the Hong Kong SAR government delivered his speech at Earth Forum 2022.
Friends of the Earth (HK) and Financial Services Development Council jointly organized the annual forum “Earth Forum 2022” last Friday.
(From left to right: Mr. David Chan, Managing Director & Partner of Boston Consulting Group, Dr. Jeffrey Hung, CEO of Friends of the Earth(HK), Mr. Plato Yip, Vice-chairman of Friends of the Earth(HK), Mrs. Mei Ng, BBS, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth (HK), Mr. Laurence Li Lu-jen, SC, Chairman of Financial Services Development Council, Dr Au King-lun, MH, Executive Director & Board Member of Financial Services Development Council, Mr. Yang Wei, General Manager of CECEP Environmental Consulting Group, Ms. Miranda Kwan, Director of Knowledge Solutions of SGS Hong Kong Limited)
Representatives from Hong Kong regulators, carbon trading experts, environmental academics and Mainland policy makers were invited to discuss “The Prospect of Hong Kong Climate Exchange”.


【意見交流園地】馮健鏗 Ryan Fung

減碳生死兩茫茫,人類的未來暫時看起來並不樂觀,只剩下 50% 概率將全球變暖限制在攝氏 1.5 度之內,必須避免大氣中的溫室氣體濃度繼續增加。聯合國氣候變遷專門委員會(IPCC)最近公佈第六份評估報告(AR6)的第三工作組報告(WG3),當中提到已幾乎不可能把溫度上升控制在 1.5 度之內,對 2025 年前做到碳達峰不抱樂觀,意味人類如抱有決心要減碳阻止全球升溫,就需要大刀闊斧,應用上更多的方法去做二氧化碳消除(CDR,Carbon Dioxide Removal)。

CDR 的方法主要有三個,第一是通過自然氣候解決方案(例如重新造林和改善土壤管理);第二是工程解決方案(例如使用直接空氣捕獲 CO2);第三則是應用稱為 BECCS 的混合解決方案(例如生物能源加碳捕獲和儲存)來實現。

由於任何單一的 CDR 解決方案,都無法以足夠大的數量部署來提供所需的排放清除量,並且每種解決方案都會帶來不同的成本和風險,自然引起不同政府和商界的反思,到底如何減碳才能平衡經濟和生態。



有牛津學者的研究指出,儘管世界各地的森林砍伐多年,植物生長(主要在溫帶森林中)仍然吸收了人類近三分之一的年排放量,當中中國就著力發展森林經濟,每年已經吸收超過 10 億噸二氧化碳,大致相當於全球航空業的排放量,至於歐洲和美國也正在幫助從大氣中吸碳。


有趣的是,根據世界銀行的數據,世界上只有 30% 的人口真正「擁有」土地,可以按照法律手段去轉讓和繼承土地,即是一旦進行土地改革,高達 70% 的土地使用者或需跟政府打官司去釐清土地擁有權。

另外,原來世界五分之一的森林屬於私有,至少 15% 的公有森林由私營管理(主要在俄羅斯);在亞洲,森林使用權更於過去 20 年倍升,意味不同國家倘若認真執行減碳的話,就要好好跟產權擁有人去磋商合作,當然在一些行政主導的國家,會選擇「鬥地主」。


香港地球之友綠色金融顧問 黃思靈