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Sharon Kimathi
Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital


Worker’s rights and wages take center stage in today’s newsletter as the European Union moves ahead with a draft law that is meant to reduce wage inequality and promote collective bargaining, whilst shareholders in Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second biggest supermarket group, seek a vote on paying workers a real living wage. Meanwhile in the United States, a study from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) showed a growing pay gap between workers and CEOs at 300 publicly listed U.S. companies.

The European Parliament and the European Council said their negotiators struck a provisional deal on common rules for minimum wages across the 27-nation bloc, which still has to be confirmed by formal votes in both institutions.

The head of the EU's executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed the agreement on the draft law that is meant to reduce wage inequality and in-work poverty. "The EU has delivered on its promise. The new rules on minimum wages will protect the dignity of work and make sure that work pays," she said in a statement.

Over in Britain, responsible investment group ShareAction said negotiations with Sainsbury's had reached an impasse and the resolution on worker’s pay would definitely go to a vote at the July 7 annual general meeting.

ShareAction said the first living wage shareholder resolution to be filed at a British company "will be a litmus test for investors' Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments to protect workers amid a spiraling cost of living crisis."

The real living wage was established by the Living Wage Foundation charity and independently calculated by the Resolution Foundation think tank, according to how much workers and their families need to live.

In America, a study by the IPS showed on Tuesday that the average CEO pay in the group climbed $2.5 million to $10.6 million, while median worker pay rose $3,556 to $23,968. The average pay gap was 670 to 1, up from 604 to 1 in the prior year, while 49 companies had ratios above 1,000 to 1, the study showed.

"During the pandemic, low-wage workers have demonstrated how essential they are to the functioning of our economy. With profits rising in 2021, corporations had an opportunity to make a big leap towards greater pay equity," said Sarah Anderson, global economy project director at the IPS.

In response, growing numbers of workers are taking matters into their own hands and looking to move jobs in the hunt for better pay, working conditions or work-life balance, a trend known as "The Great Resignation".

Talking Points

A general view of the hemicycle at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo
The European Parliament will vote this week on a raft of EU climate change policies designed to cut Europe's emissions over the next decade, with proposals facing multiple amendments and the outcome uncertain for some of the most ambitious plans.
A consultation for a global standard to assess companies' claims about progress towards internal climate targets and their use of carbon offset credits launched on Tuesday, seeking to bring transparency to an unregulated market.
The New York State Legislature has passed a bill that would impose a two-year moratorium on the use of fossil-fuel power plants to provide energy to miners of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but Governor Kathy Hochul's office on Monday said she had not yet decided whether to sign it.
Carl Icahn has decided to drop his proxy fight against Kroger over the treatment of pregnant pigs, the billionaire investor said on Monday, days after losing a similar battle at McDonald's.
Breakingviews: Food supplies have shifted rapidly from surplus to shortage. Sarasin’s Henry Boucher argues Western governments have a way to stop prices spiraling further. It entails prioritizing food over fuel, and scrapping states’ biofuel mandates.

In Conversation

Laurent Schmitt, European CEO of dcbel, a Canadian home energy station company
“Ofgem’s announcement that the next price cap might rise by £800 in October largely reflects the usual seasonal energy cost spike, but of course it will have a disproportionate impact on poorer households up and down the country. We therefore welcome the UK Government’s decision to subsidize the cost of increasing energy bills but implore energy businesses impacted by the windfall tax to continue investing in sustainable solutions to power our transition to energy self-reliance.
“Broadly speaking - provided the war in Ukraine is resolved - UK energy prices in 2023 are expected to both fall and stabilize for the benefit of everyone. Homeowners will increasingly be able to benefit from dynamic tariffs which incentivise them to use energy during low demand periods (dynamic tariffs are also known as ‘time-of-day’ tariffs which reflect the real cost of energy at any ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ point in time in the day and night).

“We are living in the middle of a climate crisis, and unfortunately there’s a cost to the energy transition. High prices will make people think about the amount of energy they’re consuming, and this will help to reduce individual carbon footprints. The good news is that most of the population are very aware of the climate change deadlock we are in and are looking for concrete solutions to mitigate their emissions.”
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ESG Lens

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)
Power demand in Texas is set to break its all-time record this week, testing the resilience of the grid after generation issues this year and a days-long blackout during a deep freeze in 2021.Extreme weather is increasingly straining power grids across the United States, and regulators are predicting record heat and drought this summer could cause rotating blackouts in several regions.

ESG Movers and Shakers

France’s CPR Asset Management (CPR AM) has appointed Vanessa Cottet as head of ESG. Cottet has held various roles within the financial services industry including HSBC, Crédit Agricole AM and Louvre Gestion.

Her most recent experience was working as a marketing segment manager for external distribution at Amundi in 2013 before joining CPR AM in 2017 to oversee institutional, retail and digital marketing within the marketing and communication department. She then became head of marketing and communication in CPR AM at the end of 2019.
U.S-based private equity firm Churchill Asset Management has appointed Mickey Weatherson as principal, head of sustainability and ESG integration. Weatherston will be responsible for providing strategic direction for ESG integration across Churchill’s senior lending, junior capital & private equity solutions strategies, working closely with parent company Nuveen’s responsible investing team to coordinate efforts across the broader organization.

Weatherston brings 18 years of financial services experience to the team. Most recently, he served as director of marketing & client services at Muzinich & Co. Prior to that, he held positions at AQR Capital Management, UBS Securities and Goldman Sachs.
U.S.-based real estate investment firm Veris Residential appointed Karen Cusmano to the newly created role of senior vice president, head of sustainability and ESG. She will oversee a dedicated ESG team focused on growing Embrace by Veris Residential, a program centered around properties, people and the planet that establishes Veris Residential’s approach to ESG initiatives. Cusmano has worked at Veris since 2001 having held various leadership roles in asset management, operations and accounting within the firm.

Quote of the Day

“Alongside fuel, food price inflation can have a material impact on the disposable income of an average consumer. We expect food prices are likely to stay high for the next six months. The supply side response to higher prices is likely to take time and with the U.S. harvest looking as if it could be smaller this year, supply and demand balances globally look to remain under pressure.”
Duncan Goodwin, fund manager at Premier Miton Global Sustainable Growth Fund, Premier Miton Investors

Looking Ahead

Executives of Thyssenkrupp, RWE and Vonovia will be discussing the latest trends in the booming hydrogen sector during the Handelsblatt hydrogen summit in Germany tomorrow.
The International Energy Agency's Fatih Birol will hold a press conference in Denmark tomorrow about the agency's new energy efficiency report.
Keep your eyes peeled for a wider image Reuters feature coming out tomorrow on Nigeria’s disappearing forest as the nation lost 1.14 million hectares of tree cover since 2000 - equal to 587 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions - according to Global Forest Watch, a platform that provides data and monitors forests.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee will hold a hearing on Washington's role in supporting European energy security on June 9 as Russia's invasion of Ukraine grinds on.
The Great Reboot
Foreign tourists visiting Japan will be required to wear masks, take out private medical insurance and be chaperoned throughout their stay, the government said on Tuesday, as it plans a gradual opening from two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Only visitors on package tours will be allowed in during the first phase of reopening, from June 10, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) said, adding that travel agency guides accompanying visitors will have to ensure they wear their masks.

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