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In This List

ESG Insider: Sustainability outlooks for 2020; BlackRock warns of climate risks

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ESG Insider: Sustainability outlooks for 2020; BlackRock warns of climate risks

The ESG Insider newsletter compiles news and insights on environmental, social and governance developments driving change in business and investment decisions. Subscribe to our ESG Insider newsletter, and listen to the latest ESG Insider podcast on SoundCloud, Spotify and iTunes.

Big names from across the ESG world started 2020 with stark warnings about climate risk.

In his annual letter, BlackRock Inc. CEO Larry Fink this week said climate change will cause a "fundamental reshaping of finance" that will occur "in the near future."

We heard a similar warning when we interviewed Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of California State Teachers' Retirement System, one of the largest U.S. pension funds. Ailman called climate risk "the most dominant topic in the next decade" and warned that "investors need to wake up and recognize this is a factor they've got to think about in their portfolio."

And as Ceres CEO Mindy Lubber told us in the latest episode of the ESG Insider podcast: "Baby steps are equivalent to nothing in this day and age." Lubber said companies need to take "giant steps, bigger than anything we imagined" to combat the rapid pace of climate change.

This week's newsletter also explores how several U.S. states stepped up in 2019 to address climate issues. Plus, see our Chart of the Week for a look at the rise of sustainable debt issuances around the world.

Chart of the Week

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Top Stories

These are the top issues the ESG world is focused on in 2020 — podcast

In the latest episode of the ESG Insider podcast, we interview leading sustainability experts about their focus in 2020. The sluggish response to rapidly worsening climate risks was a recurring theme.

2019 marked with states upping climate efforts amid federal rollbacks

As federal lawmakers walked back policies designed to protect the environment and address climate change, a number of U.S. states passed legislation to curb carbon emissions, subdue wildfires and promote sustainable energy.

BlackRock's Fink warns climate risk causing 'fundamental reshaping of finance'

BlackRock rolled out a series of proposals to make sustainability a "new standard" in its own investment approach. As part of these plans, the world's largest asset manager will quickly distance itself from much of the thermal coal sector.

Q&A

CalSTRS CIO sounds alarm bells on climate risk; 'Investors need to wake up'

The chief investment officer of CalSTRS expects climate change to hit "every facet" of the pension fund's $248 billion investment portfolio.

"We're in the process of putting our plans together for what investing in a low-carbon future looks like for us and how we would adapt it," he told S&P Global Market Intelligence. "Plans that incorporate that into their investments will find themselves ahead of the curve and outperforming versus plans that bury their heads in the sand and stay in legacy assets."

Environmental

BNEF reports sustainable debt issuances climbed 78% in 2019 from prior year

NOAA ranks 2019 the 2nd wettest year on record, says big inland floods cost $20B

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Fire-related risks for utilities higher in California than Australia, Fitch says

Social

House members grill Facebook executive over 'deepfakes' policy

Microsoft rolls out Project Artemis to fight online child predators

InterContinental Hotels boosts efforts to combat human trafficking

Governance

BlackRock joins Climate Action 100+ investor initiative

Barclays shareholders file resolution to force bank to end fossil fuel funding

BBC Studios to employ new strategies to improve diversity, governance

ESG Indices

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Upcoming Events

Central banks, ESG integration & the future of green monetary policy
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Feb. 5
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The Economist
Feb. 13
New York

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March 16
Berlin

Water & Long-Term Value
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April 2
San Francisco

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April 22
Amsterdam

Disruptive Sustainability Technologies
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April 23
Palo Alto, Calif.

U.S. SIF 2020 Annual Conference
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June 8-10
Arlington, Va.

Questions or suggestions? Contact S&P Global Market Intelligence's ESG News team at ESGNews@spglobal.com.