Companies 'must help stop global warming'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2007, 12:00am

'Socially responsible' assets - those owned by companies whose businesses meet recognised social, environmental and governance standards - are growing more popular around the world, a forum heard yesterday.

Council for Sustainable Development chairman Edgar Cheng Wai-kin said a growing number of investment firms, research groups and service providers were providing an analysis of companies' compliance with such standards. 'In the United States, as of 2005, there were US$2.29 trillion [worth] of 'socially responsible' assets,' Dr Cheng told a conference called World Collide held in Hong Kong yesterday.

'In Asia and the Pacific, socially responsible assets are growing as well, with US$18 to US$20 billion in assets under management out of a global total of US$4.5 trillion,' he said.

The conference, organised by the Business Environment Council, brought together 13 leading international and local experts to discuss sustainable financing trends.

Dr Cheng said the world had reached a 'tipping point' in its awareness of global climate change.

He said companies should help solve the global climate problem through renewable energy and carbon trading or through improvements in energy efficiency. 'It is important to explore ways in which Hong Kong, as China's international finance centre, can play a role in low-carbon financing as well as socially responsible investing,' he said.

Another speaker, Melissa Brown, pointed to the growth of investment in sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) funds. Ms Brown, executive director of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, said South Korea was the fastest-growing SRI fund market in Asia.