Reflecting on ESG in 2021 with Hannah Simons: Record flows and open water swimming

ESG Clarity asks readers if their sustainable New Year's resolutions and ESG predictions for 2021 came true

It’s that time of year again – the days are getting colder and the festivities are beginning. Last year, we asked ESG Clarity readers how they were going to spend a sustainable Christmas and heard about recycled wrapping, staying local, Zoom carols and much more.

We also asked for our readers’ sustainable resolutions and predictions in the ESG space for the year to come. Now the year is drawing to a close we wanted to see whether they stuck to their resolutions and how their predictions played out over the course of the past 12 months.

Here we speak to Hannah Simons, head of sustainability strategy at Schroders.

“At the end of last year, I resolved to reduce the carbon footprint of my travel,” Simons said. “This year we have used our car less than in 2020. For longer journeys, I take the train with my family. To run local errands and for the days I commute to the office, I use my bike. I did travel by airplane, but used offsetting programmes offered by the airline.”

This year, she has also taken up open water swimming, shown in the picture here in 5 degree water!  

Last year Simons predicted another record year for flows into sustainable investment funds. “Looking at data to the end of September, global flows this year were already higher than 2020,” she remarked.

“Furthermore, total assets invested in global sustainable fund almost doubled in the six months to the end of September 2021 to reach $3.9trn, Morningstar figures show. I’m certain flows will continue to be strong next year, but another record-breaking year may be difficult to achieve.”

COP26 was front and centre of many minds last year, with Simons predicting a continued focus on climate risk. Schroders had joined the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative and had a presence at the conference, digesting and debating its outcomes.

“COP26 certainly delivered a mixed bag,” Simons said. “We had high expectations going into the conference and we will have to wait for next year’s conference in Egypt to hear more of the ambitious action plans from governments as they seek to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals.”

She added: “Asset managers have continued to express their commitments to transition, the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative has grown from its initial 29 signatories to 220 representing more than $57trn of assets. A positive development at COP was the pledge on deforestation. 100 country leaders came together, as well as a lot of companies, including Schroders, committing to ending deforestation by 2030.”

See also: – Reflecting on ESG in 2021 with Eilidh Duncan: Regulation and meat-free meals

See also: –  Reflecting on ESG in 2021 with James Clark: Renewables and repurposed funds