Case study: Helping Robeco drive down emissions in the auto industry

Robeco was one of the first major asset management firms to recognise the importance of sustainability, having launched its first sustainable investing product, Green Certificates, in 1995. Today the originally Dutch firm manages assets of €146 billion, with €131 billion in ESG-integrated assets.
The firm has been awarded the top A+ score in several areas of responsible investment by the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and was ranked first place in ShareAction’s Asset Owners Disclosure Project. Robeco is a research funding partner of TPI.
Consistency is key
Robeco use TPI data to guide their extensive engagements on climate change. In 2019 Robeco’s Active Ownership team’s analysts voted
at a record 5,926 shareholders meetings and had 229 companies under engagement. In particular, Robeco has contributed to the development of the engagement strategy with European automakers under the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and Climate Action 100+.
TPI data is a critical ingredient in these engagements, according to Robeco’s Engagement Specialist Cristina Cedillo Torres, with TPI’s Management Quality scores indicating which companies are putting in place the necessary governance and strategy reforms to address climate change.
She explains, “With so much conflicting information out there, one of the benefits of using TPI assessments is the consistency of data. By tracking the same indicators each year, using the same scenario assumptions, we can see real change over time – or identify where it’s not happening.”
In particular, Ms Torres praises TPI’s Carbon Performance indicator as “one of a kind”.
“Before it was extremely difficult to compare company ambitions on climate change, because different firms used different benchmarks, metrics and timeframes. TPI’s methodology makes it much easier to compare the level of ambition across companies.”
While Robeco carries out its own proprietary research to inform its engagement questions, there is a high degree of overlap with TPI’s metrics. For example, both Robeco and TPI have increased their focus on ensuring consistency between companies’ stated positions on climate change and their lobbying through trade associations in the last year.
Robeco’s engagements, in collaboration with other investors under the Climate Action 100+ initiative, have already yielded positive results, with two European carmakers setting time-bound net-zero emissions targets.
Looking ahead, Robeco is beginning to use TPI management quality scores in its voting policy. This year it will begin voting against certain board proposals at companies with a low management quality score, and there are plans to integrate this data with voting policies further in future.