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為什麼投資者關心 ESG? – 澳大利亞的社會責任投資

Why Do Investors Care About ESG? –
Socially Responsible Investing in Australia

緣起

ESG 投資成倍增長,如今,越來越多的投資者不僅關心企業的財務表現,還關心企業是否履行社會責任。 專家估計,到 2025 年,ESG 金融產品可能超過 50 萬億美元。這證明這一趨勢將持續存在,任何股東都不能忽視。

澳大利亞投資者概況

 

在負責任投資方面,這一運動在澳大利亞逐漸受到私人投資者和大型投資公司的歡迎。2020 年,負責任投資佔整個市場的 40%。這個數字逐年增加。通常,有興趣通過智能分配資源來接受 ESG 價值觀的基金經理會關注各種 ESG 因素。這些包括氣候變化、侵犯人權、多樣性,以及顯示可接受的治理質量的價值觀,如透明度和問責製或缺乏腐敗。標準及其重要性可能因行業而異。

關心 ESG 原則的投資者更有可能將資金投向從事開發可持續基礎設施、可再生能源和節能技術的公司。這也意味著他們將避免將資源分配給傳統上負責破壞環境的公司。就澳大利亞而言,其中之一是煤炭開採業。此外,值得強調的是,所有年齡段的股東都關注可持續發展報告以及財務報表。這很重要,因為較高年齡組的人往往傾向於堅持傳統行業。

為了抵消 ESG 運動對煤炭行業的不利影響,一些澳大利亞巨頭已經做出反應並對其運營方式進行了重大改變。煤炭行業缺乏回應可能意味著難以獲得新的資金、保險甚至經營許可。幸運的是,澳大利亞人採用了特定的問責制框架來幫助煤炭公司對 ESG 更加友好。邁向可持續採礦 (TSM) 允許礦產公司評估和交流其可持續發展績效。

該框架的核心是透明度和可信度。從 2025 年開始,公司將被要求發布有關其在所有TSM 因素下的表現的數據。例如,煤炭企業將有義務提供有關其管理空氣、水污染和生物多樣性以及後期生產活動的方法的數據。此外,還將根據公司為員工和更廣泛的社區提供的價值來評判公司。透明度和定期報告應該能讓煤炭行業朝著更加有利於ESG 的方向發展。

許多投資者將公司關心 ESG 標準這一事實視為寶貴的紅利。在投資者必須在兩種資產之間進行選擇的情況下。一份由在其政策中解決環境和社會問題的公司發行,另一份則沒有。決定相對簡單。通過支持具有綠色願景的公司,利益相關者表明他們也關心我們星球的未來。

傳統與社會責任投資

一些人可能擔心,只關注採用 ESG 敘述的公司可能會對投資組合多元化產生負面影響。有趣的是,早在 17 年前進行的研究證明,僅僅因為股票投資組合僅針對具有強烈道德和道德價值觀的資產並不意味著它不能達到令人滿意的多元化水平。更簡單地說,如果潛在投資者決定將投資限制在具有社會責任感的領域,他們的收益不應受到負面影響。因此,假設傳統基金和社會責任基金的投資實踐之間存在顯著差異是錯誤的。

感興趣的股東可以找到在澳大利亞證券交易所 (ESX) 上市的大量道德交易所交易基金。例如 : Vanguard Ethically Conscious International Shares (VESG)、Betashares Global Sustainability Leaders ETF (ETHI) 或 Russell Australian Responsible Investment (RARI)。可以肯定地說,隨著 ESG 價值觀在金融領域變得更加流行,對社會負責的投資組合多元化的機會比以往任何時候都更好。投資者可以從各種規模和不同行業的公司中謹慎挑選。現在是那些想要開始他們的社會責任投資之旅的時候了。

結論

 

越來越多的澳大利亞利益相關者一直在探索社會責任投資的理念。 研究證明,僅專注於對社會負責的投資的投資者不會面臨投資組合缺乏多元化的風險。 這一概念使各方受益,包括投資者本身、信奉 ESG 價值觀的公司和普通公民。 未來,ESG 指標可能會成為考慮公司繁榮的另一個關鍵因素。

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Introduction

 

The ESG investments have been multiplying, and nowadays, more and more investors care not only about how firms perform financially but also if they fulfill their social responsibilities. Specialists estimate that by 2025, ESG financial products could exceed $50 trillion. This proves that this trend is here to stay and cannot be overlooked by any stockholder.

The Overview of Australian Investors

When it comes to responsible investments, the movement has been gradually more well-liked in Australia among private investors as well as large-size investment companies. In 2020, responsible investments accounted for 40% of the total market. That number has been increasing year over year.

Typically, fund managers interested in embracing ESG values by intelligent allocation of their resources look at various ESG factors. Those include climate change, human rights infringements, diversity, in addition to values demonstrating an acceptable quality of governance like transparency and accountability or lack of corruption. Criteria and their importance may vary according to industry.

Investors who care about ESG principles are a lot more likely to direct their funds towards firms engaged in developing sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, and energy-efficient technologies. This also means they will avoid allocating their resources to companies traditionally responsible for damaging the environment. In the case of Australia, one of those is the coal mining industry. Moreover, it is worth highlighting shareholders of all age groups pay attention to sustainability reports along with financial statements. This is important since those in the higher age groups often tend to stick to traditional industries.

To counterweight the adverse effects of the ESG movement to the coal industry, some of the Australian giants have already reacted and made substantial changes in how they operate. Lack of response from the coal industry could mean difficulties in acquiring new funds, insurance, or even license to operate. Luckily, Australians have adopted a particular accountability framework to help coal companies be more ESG friendly. Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) allows mineral companies to evaluate and communicate their sustainability performance.

The cores of the framework are transparency and credibility. Starting from 2025, firms will be required to publish data on how they perform with all TSM factors. For instance, those in the coal business will be obligated to provide data on their approaches towards managing air, water pollution, and biodiversity, as well as post-production activities. In addition, companies will be judged on the value they provide to employees and broader communities. Transparency and regular reporting should allow the coal industry to progress towards being more ESG friendly.

 

Many investors see the fact that a company cares about ESG standards as a valuable bonus. In a case where an investor has to choose between two assets. One issued by a company that addresses environmental and social issues in their policies and one that does not. The decision is relatively simple. By supporting companies with a green vision, stakeholders show that they also care about the future of our planet.

Conventional vs. Socially Responsible Investing

Some may worry that concentrating exclusively on companies embracing the ESG narrative may negatively affect portfolio diversification. Interestingly, studies conducted as long as 17 years ago prove that just because a stock portfolio solely targets assets with strong ethical and moral values does not mean it cannot reach a satisfactory level of diversification. To put it more simply, gains of potential investors should not be negatively affected if they decide to limit their investments to only those characterized as socially-responsible. Thus, it is false to assume there is a significant difference between the investment practices of conventional and socially-responsible funds.

Interested shareholders can find a myriad of ethical exchange-traded funds (ETFs) listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ESX). For instance, the Vanguard Ethically Conscious International Shares (VESG), the Betashares Global Sustainability Leaders ETF (ETHI), or the Russell Australian Responsible Investment (RARI). It is safe to say that as the ESG values became even more popular in the financial spheres, the opportunity for socially-responsible portfolio diversification is better than ever before.

Investors can carefully pick from companies of all sizes and different industries. Now is the time for those wanting to start their journey with socially responsible investing.
 

Conclusions

An increasing number of Australian stakeholders have been exploring the idea of socially responsible investing. Research proves that investors who focus solely on socially responsible investments do not risk a lack of diversification in their investment portfolios. This notion benefits all parties, including the investors themselves, companies that embrace the ESG values, and ordinary citizens. In the future, ESG metrics will likely become another crucial factor when considering the prosperity of a firm.

References

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Bell, A. (2021, February 9). ESG Considerations for Investment Funds in Australia – Disclosures. Johnson Winter & Slattery. https://jws.com.au/en/insights/articles/2021-articles/esg-considerations-for-investment-funds

Bello, Z. Y. (2005). Socially responsible investing and portfolio diversification. Journal of Financial Research, 28(1), 41–57. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6803.2005.00113.x

Hayden, M. (2022, January 2). 10 High-Performing Ethical ETFs. Canstar.
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Marsh McLennan. (2022). ESG takes centre stage in Australian mining industry. Marsh McLennan. https://www.marsh.com/au/industries/mining/insights/esg-takes-centre-stage-in-australian-mining-industry-.htm

Michael, L. (2021, January 9). Responsible investing in Australia reaches new heights. Pro Bono Australia. https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2021/09/responsible-investing-in-australia-reaches-new-heights/

Minerals Council of Australia. (2022). Towards Sustainable Mining: Taking ESG accountability to a new level. Minerals Council of Australia. https://www.minerals.org.au/towards-sustainable-mining

Scholtens, B. (2014). Indicators of responsible investing. Ecological Indicators, 36, 382–385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.08.012

Sherbon, J. (2022, February 18). We are all active ESG investors now. The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/we-are-all-active-esg-investors-now-20220216-p59x38.html

Spicer, M. (2021, January 9). The number of Australian Responsible Investors grows, but only one quarter meet the threshold for leading ESG practice. KPMG; KPMG.
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​About the Author

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Patryk Chojecki is a researcher and writer at Taiwan Architecture and Building Center. He is currently a graduate student at National Chengchi University in Taipei. He is passionate about all topics related to international politics, environment, and international political economy.

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