World’s biggest ESG advisor to open in Australia

Doug Morrow
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(pictured: Doug Morrow)

Sustainalytics, a global research and ratings firm focusing on ESG and corporate governance, has produced a list of the ‘top 10 stocks to watch’ – including Australia’s Origin Energy – following the Paris climate change conference. Sustainalytics is the world’s biggest firm of its type and is set to open an office in Sydney.

In a 70-page report, lead author Doug Morrow, an associate director of thematic research at Sustainalytics, says the Paris Agreement (COP21 Paris) signals a fundamental change in the way the international community manages climate change and provides a positive long-term signal for low-carbon technologies.

The report, co-authored by the firm’s Madere Olivar and Hendrik Garz, explores the potential role for asset owners in monitoring countries’ reduction commitments based on the “growing recognition of climate change as a systemic risk”. This year may mark the first that people no longer refer to renewable energy sources as ‘alternative’.

In presenting their top-10 list, the researchers say they have extended way beyond the conventional providers of renewable energy providers and cleantech firms, looking to offer investors unique ways to play the regulatory, market and physical impact of climate change.

They anticipate greater interaction between investors and governments, partly due to the shifting responsibilities of a universal owner and the growing recognition of climate change as a systemic risk.

The top 10 stocks to watch are:

  • Tesla, based in the US, with the stock trading in the automobiles sector – the company is an “energy storage visionary”
  • Borregaard, Norway, chemicals sector – alternative petrochemicals
  • LG Chem, South Korea, chemicals – lithium ion batteries and energy storage products
  • Kellogg, USA, food products – driving climate adaptation in the supply chain
  • L’Oreal, France, household products – climate change programs and brand effects
  • General Electric, US, industrial conglomerates – acquired Alstom’s power assets
  • Allianz, Germany, insurance – moving from coal to clean energy financing
  • Origin Energy, Australia, oil and gas producers – positioning for Australia’s “solar boom”
  • Cisco, USA, technology hardware – “Internet of Things” and smart city development
  • RWE, Germany, utilities – restructuring of clean assets.

Sustainalytics is based in Amsterdam but has offices across Europe, North America and Singapore. The Sydney office will be its 14th. The firm has 250 staff of whom about 120 are analysts with various backgrounds across a total of 40 industry sectors.

Their analysis of Origin Energy, summarized along the other stocks to watch in the report, says the company has many challenges, including funding its ambitious plans, but an expected solar energy boom will favour its future.

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