As companies across the Western world wrestle with how to incorporate ESG into their day-to-day practices, firms in China are increasingly embracing the concept.
随着西方世界的公司努力将 ESG 纳入其日常实践，中国的公司越来越接受这一概念。
By Jing-Jing Lui, Director, Sheffield Haworth
刘晶晶 中国区总监 Sheffield Haworth
Many within the Chinese government and corporate world now see ESG – environment, social, and governance – as an opportunity to promote sustainable growth. Since China announced its “carbon peak, carbon neutral” goals in 2021, the county’s focus on clean energy, the green economy, and green finance has risen sharply.
Just as in Western economies, Chinese asset management institutions have been among the keenest early adopters. ESG-themed investment began in 2015 and only 16% of all asset management firms were using ESG as an analytical factor in their investments by 2020. This year, that percentage has shot up to 67%.
中国政府和企业界的许多人现在将 ESG（环境、社会和治理）视为促进可持续增长的机会。自中国宣布 2021 年“碳达峰、碳中和”目标以来，中国对清洁能源、绿色经济和绿色金融的关注度急剧上升。
与西方经济体一样，中国资产管理机构一直是最热心的早期实践者之一。以 ESG 为主题的投资始于 2015 年，到 2020 年，从只有 16% 的资产管理公司飙升至 67%。
There are 200 ESG-themed investment funds in China as of the end of 2021, with a total of over 257.8 billion yuan ($38.5 bn) under management. The average returns of these funds have exceeded 30% per annum over the last three years, so many people view them as a success. Chinese asset management institutions are also joining the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, the network designed to promote sustainable investment by helping firms incorporate ESG-related principles.
The number of A-share companies that actively disclose ESG information has also increased year-on-year. In 2020, the disclosure rate reached 27%. This is expected to hit historic highs when companies report their 2021 numbers this year.
Industry-wise, financial services firms rank top among those listed companies disclosing ESG data, while central and regional state-owned enterprises have an overall disclosure rate of 41.6%, showing how seriously government bodies are taking ESG.
截至 2021 年底，中国共有 200 支以 ESG 为主题的投资基金，管理规模总计超过 2578 亿元人民币（385 亿美元）。这些基金在过去三年的平均年回报率超过 30%，因此很多人认为它们是成功的。中国资产管理机构也加入了联合国责任投资原则，该网络旨在通过帮助企业纳入 ESG 相关原则来促进可持续投资。
主动披露ESG信息的A股公司数量也同比增加。 2020年，披露率达到27%。当公司今年报告其 2021 年数据时，预计这一数字将创下历史新高。
How international companies in China are approaching ESG
Global ESG investment has grown rapidly and is forecast to continue to do so, despite Covid. According to Morningstar, sustainable investing mutual funds and ETFs in five major global markets had more than doubled to $2.24 trillion between the beginning of 2020 and Q2 2021.
According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s (GSIA) 2022 sustainable investment report, the scale of global sustainable investment assets under management reached $35.3 trillion at the beginning of 2020, accounting for 35.9% of the total global assets under management.
As of mid-November 2021, more than 4,500 institutions around the world have joined the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), an increase of nearly 30% from the end of 2020. These institutions represent a total of around US$120 trillion in invested assets.
Let’s take a look at the situation of multinational companies carrying out ESG in China:
尽管身处Covid时代，全球ESG投资依然增长迅速，预计将继续增长。根据晨星的数据，从 2020 年初到 2021 年第二季度，全球五个主要市场的可持续投资共同基金和 ETF 增长了一倍多，达到 2.24 万亿美元。
截至 2021 年 11 月中旬，全球已有 4,500 多家机构加入了联合国负责任投资原则（PRI），较 2020 年底增长了近 30%。这些机构的投资总额约为 120 万亿美元投资资产。
- HSBC 汇丰银行
The company recently announced the launch of the market’s first sustainable development credit fund for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The fund will provide 33.9 bn yuan (approximately $5 billion) for enterprises in the region to promote the reduction of carbon emissions in the next 18 months.
The fund is designed to complement HSBC’s corporate sustainable development strategy and will aim to support the development of green industries as well as the low-carbon transformation of traditional industries.
HSBC近日宣布推出市场首只粤港澳大湾区可持续发展信贷基金。该基金将在未来 18 个月内为该地区企业提供 339 亿元人民币（约合 50 亿美元）的资金，以促进减少碳排放。
Wang Liwei, managing director of HSBC China Greater Bay Area Industrial and Commercial Finance, commented that the low-carbon transformation of enterprises in the Greater Bay Area will contribute significantly towards the overall sustainability of Chinese industry. The region’s existing boom in technological innovation also provides strong support for the green development of the area, he added.
“We took the lead in launching a sustainable development credit fund in the Greater Bay Area, and hoped that through this new attempt, we would help enterprises in the Greater Bay Area to practice the concept of sustainable development, and at the same time, promote the active development of green finance in the region, and contribute to the economic growth of the Greater Bay Area,” Wang Liwei said.
- Hang Seng Bank 恒生银行
Hang Seng Bank released its 2021 ESG report in April this year, which pointed out that the company’s 2021 carbon emissions were 31.78% lower than in 2019. The growth rate of green credit balance at the end of 2021 will reach 76.7% compared with the same period of the previous year, the report adds.
To achieve net zero emissions within its supply chain, the company reported it had increased the proportion of green suppliers, and had also signed a long-term strategic cooperation agreement with nine suppliers that have joined the CDP (Carbon Information Disclosure Project) in 2021.
- JP Morgan Chase 摩根大通
Since May 2021, of the approximately $285 billion in financing provided by JPMorgan Chase Group globally, 41% was development financing for emerging economies, 37% was green financing, and 22% was used for community development. Since 2015, the company has helped China’s leading financial institutions and companies issue green, ESG, and sustainability bonds totalling nearly $26.9 billion.
Huang Jian, Vice President of JPMorgan Chase Bank (China) Co., Ltd and President of Global Corporate Bank China, said in an interview with International Finance News that green development can provide a steady stream of opportunities.
“I started to participate in the green bond project in 2014 and 2015. Over the years, I have witnessed the changes from the beginning when we pushed the company, to now they are pulling us… In the field of bond issuance and financing in the capital market, green is becoming an increasingly important part,” Huang Jian said.
自 2021 年 5 月以来，摩根大通集团在全球提供的约 2850 亿美元融资中，41% 用于新兴经济体的发展融资，37% 用于绿色融资，22% 用于社区发展。自 2015 年以来，公司已帮助中国领先的金融机构和企业发行了总额近 269 亿美元的绿色、ESG 和可持续发展债券。
“我从 2014 年和 2015 年开始参与绿色债券项目。这些年来，我见证了从最初我们推动公司到现在他们在拉动我们的变化……在债券发行和融资领域。资本市场，绿色正成为越来越重要的组成部分，”黄健表示
How domestic Chinese companies are approaching ESG
On the whole, Chinese companies are paying more attention to the “Environmental” and “Governance” aspects of ESG. Carbon neutrality, common prosperity, and the fair distribution of wealth have also become important ESG topics in China.
In 2021, China announced its “duel carbon” goals. These include peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060. At the same time, the country announced regulations on greenhouse gas emissions as part of a raft of ESG-related policies. As something relatively easy to measure and quantify, greenhouse gas emissions have become a strong focus for Chinese companies in their ESG strategies.
2021年，中国宣布了“双碳”目标。其中包括到 2030 年达到碳排放峰值，到 2060 年实现碳中和。同时，该国宣布了温室气体排放法规，作为一系列 ESG 相关政策的一部分。作为相对容易衡量和量化的东西，温室气体排放已成为中国企业 ESG 战略的重点。
According to one Senior ESG-focused expert at MBB consulting firm, the three biggest ESG-related pain points for Chinese companies are:
- That it is a requirement to qualify for being traded on global stock exchanges
- That it is a requirement to partake in international supply chains – either as a supplier or a buyer
- That it is a requirement for Chinese companies who wish to expand overseas
All in all, ESG investing has also become an important indicator for institutional investors. For investors, when analysing a company, ESG is an important part of helping to identify significant risks and growth opportunities, as it ultimately aims to measure the sustainability of the business, as well as the elements that could impact wider society. By incorporating ESG factors into decision making and monitoring the behaviour of target companies more comprehensively, investors believe this will help them to invest in high-quality firms.
总而言之，ESG投资也成为机构投资者的重要指标。对于投资者而言，在分析公司时，ESG 是帮助识别重大风险和增长机会的重要组成部分，因为它最终旨在衡量业务的可持续性以及可能影响更广泛社会的因素。通过将 ESG 因素纳入决策并更全面地监控目标公司的行为，投资者相信这将有助于他们投资于优质公司。
How comprehensive and reliable is ESG reporting in China?
ESG information disclosure in China consists of:
- Mandatory disclosure requirements for air, water, and solid pollutants
- Voluntary disclosure guidelines issued by stock exchanges
- Voluntary disclosure by listed companies in annual reports and social responsibility reports.
With the development of ESG, a number of rating systems that can provide guidance to investors have also been developed, including those created by global index compilers MSCI, Wind, and FTSE Russell. Some locally-created ESG rating systems have also begun to emerge in China.
These systems assess the commitments companies make and how they plan to achieve their goals. In fact, setting a goal is the first step. After that, companies that value ESG should have clear plans to achieve their goals and regularly disclose progress on their ESG practices.
随着 ESG 的发展，一些可以为投资者提供指导的评级系统也被开发出来，包括由全球指数编制者 MSCI、Wind 和 FTSE Russell 创建的评级系统。一些本土的ESG评级体系也开始在中国出现。
这些系统评估公司做出的承诺以及他们计划如何实现目标。事实上，设定目标是第一步。之后，重视 ESG 的公司应该制定明确的计划来实现其目标，并定期披露其 ESG 实践的进展情况。
Separately, some asset managers have developed their own rating systems that mine big data to separate what the companies say and do from the information they voluntarily provide.
Generally speaking, the quality of ESG information from Chinese state-owned enterprises tends to be better than that of private enterprises, especially those that are dual-listed on the Hong Kong and China A-share markets. State-owned enterprises tend to be more transparent in their disclosures, and some even have third-party verification.
总体而言，中国国有企业的 ESG 信息质量往往优于民营企业，尤其是在香港和中国 A 股市场双重上市的企业。国有企业的披露往往更加透明，有些甚至有第三方验证。
The ESG-related talent market in China
Naturally, the increased focus on ESG in China has significantly increased the demand for talent in this and related fields, resulting in an acute shortage.
China’s investment ecosystem needs ESG professionals to work as analysts and researchers to analyse investment targets from an ESG perspective, to devise ESG investment strategies, and to conduct due diligence on the investments themselves. Meanwhile, commercial banks need professionals for a range of ESG-related investment and financing activities, for example for issuing green loans, underwriting green bonds, provide green consulting services, and so on.
Various third-party professional service providers need specialist ESG skills also, from modellers to those competent to issue ESG certifications, to people with backgrounds in environmental sciences, material sciences, accounting, finance, and law. As the demand for ESG consulting services grows, the demand for and investment in related talent from consulting firms has also increased significantly.
All of these roles require specialist knowledge and experience, which are in short supply. The Hong Kong SAR government has included ESG in the list of in-demand talents in Hong Kong. Shanghai has also included green finance talents in the list of talents in short supply.
自然而然，中国对 ESG 的关注度越来越高，显着增加了该领域及相关领域的人才需求，导致人才严重短缺。
各种第三方专业服务提供商也需要专业的 ESG 技能，从建模师到有能力颁发 ESG 认证的人员，再到具有环境科学、材料科学、会计、金融和法律背景的人员。随着对ESG咨询服务需求的增长，咨询公司对相关人才的需求和投资也显着增加。
Against this background, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology launched Hong Kong’s first bachelor’s program in “Sustainability and Green Finance” last year. Globally, some professional associations (such as the European Federation of Financial Analysts) have launched an ESG analyst certification service.
In addition to ESG expertise, the global focus on carbon neutrality has also created demand for a range of green jobs. According to estimates by the International Energy Agency, by 2030, clean energy investments will create 14 million jobs and create an additional 16 million jobs in areas such as energy efficient retrofits of buildings, and manufacturing electric vehicles. Last year, China’s Ministry of Social Affairs included “carbon emission manager” as one of the new occupations in the national occupation sequence.
在此背景下，香港科技大学于去年推出香港首个「可持续发展与绿色金融」学士学位课程。在全球范围内，一些专业协会（如欧洲金融分析师联合会）已经推出了 ESG 分析师认证服务。
除了 ESG 专业知识外，全球对碳中和的关注也创造了对一系列绿色工作的需求。据国际能源署估计，到 2030 年，清洁能源投资将创造 1400 万个就业岗位，并在建筑节能改造、电动汽车制造等领域再创造 1600 万个就业岗位。去年，中国社会事务部将“碳排放管理员”列为国家职业序列的新职业之一。
What this means for sourcing and supplying ESG talent for companies in China
我们能为中国企业寻找和提供 ESG 人才做些什么？
Because the global and Chinese markets are paying more and more attention to the establishment of ESG systems and the implementation of ESG strategies, Sheffield Haworth is working with clients to advance the accumulation of ESG high-end talents in China, Asia and the world. At present, in the consulting industry, the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, food and beverage, and FMCG industry we are building our talent mapping from Director , MD to partners.
Please looking forward to our Round Table Events in September.
请期待我们 即将在9 月举办的ESG全球圆桌会议。