Sustainable Investment Awards 2021

ESG data initiative of the year; ESG index provider of the year: S&P Global

Reid Steadman

As part of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiative S&P Global Market Intelligence (SPGMI) has built and launched new ESG and Climate and Environmental Analytics products and integrated them into its primary feed and desktop platforms over the past 12 months.

Having previously acquired climate analytics and environmental data firm Trucost (now a part of S&P Global Sustainable1), the data coverage includes environmental, standardised environmental, and climate performance profiles on 15,000 companies. The Trucost Paris Alignment dataset allows investors to assess company-level alignment with the Paris Agreement. This covers more than 14,000 companies and 1,000 granular data points captured from engaging directly with companies as part of S&P's ESG data collection processes.

"It is through extensive engagement with [our clients] that we continue to mobilise our data priorities around the need to have an ESG lens in the analysis of how companies and portfolios are positioned from an environmental, climate, and impact perspective. This is an ongoing journey for us as well as other information providers," said Sonia Kim, head of ESG product development at S&P Global Sustainable1.

Currently 40% of S&P Global's client firms are accessing its ESG content.

"S&P has decently focused on ESG data this past year and the acquisition of Trucost is a positive," commented one Environmental Finance Sustainable Investment Awards judge.

S&P Global also acquired the SAM business from RobeccoSAM in 2019, and in 2021 brought together Trucost and SAM to launch S&P Global Sustainable1, the single source for ESG and Sustainability intelligence from S&P Global. Sustainable1 is designed to serve ESG needs across the value chain by leveraging all of S&P Global's ESG offerings. This includes benchmarking, analytics, evaluations, and indices that provide customers with a 360-degree view to help achieve their sustainability goals.

Sonia KimS&P Dow Jones Indices, a division of S&P Global also won the ESG index provider of the year award, after several index launches such as the S&P Sustainability Screened Indices in July last year. This range of S&P Dow Jones Indices' ESG benchmarks, such as the S&P 500 ESG Index, apply certain screens such as excluding companies that extract thermal coal or oil sands, generate electricity from thermal coal, or explore or produce shale energy (5% revenue threshold), as well as companies that own fossil fuel reserves. They also exclude companies based on other criteria such as those that are involved in small arms and controversial weapons.

This was followed in January this year when the company also launched the S&P SmallCap 600 ESG Index and S&P MidCap 400 ESG indices, which both maintain similar overall group weightings to their parent benchmarks index while adopting sustainability criteria.

"S&P Dow Jones Indices has been a pioneer in ESG indexing for more than two decades and continues to innovate and bring ESG data and benchmarking solutions from core ESG equity to climate-focused offerings such as the S&P Paris-Aligned and Climate Transition Indices that support companies and institutions' move towards a more sustainable global economy," said Reid Steadman, global head of ESG at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The Environmental Finance Sustainable Investment Awards judges were impressed with S&P Global's range of ESG indices offerings including the S&P 500 ESG Index, which is the sustainable alternative to the S&P 500, mirroring its risk and return profile, and having achieved a 25% increase in ESG performance.

"Of the major players, S&P Dow Jones Indices appears to have the most multi-faceted approach and developments across their platform," said one judge.