Hello and welcome to our weekly intelligence briefing for boards, where we help directors keep up to speed on the macro trends affecting businesses across the world, and corporate governance news.

We hope you enjoy it and, as always, you can email your suggestions for stories and resources to [email protected].

You can also find more news and resources on our online hub FT.com/Board.
Each day FT Leader writers on the Editorial Board meet to discuss the topics to be considered for Leader columns. Here are the issues that dominated this week:

With the COP26 climate summit dominating the news all week, we picked out India's 2070 net zero pledge for special attention. 

The surprise, though long-term, promise was "an example of heartening progress and a cause for rueful disappointment at the same time".

We are likely to return for a final verdict on the summit later this week.

On another big running story - the growing evidence of inflation - we urged a delay in the Bank of England implementing a prospective interest rate raise. It would be "going too far, too soon", though markets were confident of a rate rise as early as Thursday.

The former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney led the headline-making charge at COP26 this week, bringing together a coalition of international financial companies that has up to $130tn of private capital committed to hitting net zero targets by 2050.

But experts question whether the maths around the initiative stack up. One criticism is that banks have signed up to the pledge, while financing fossil fuel companies.

Indeed, scrutiny of banks’ lending intensified before COP26 and the financial sector faces growing calls to reduce its business with carbon-intensive sectors

Talk of climate financing leads to one further question: where does the money go? While rich countries previously pledged $100bn a year to help poorer countries reduce emissions, there is little agreement on how to spend the money or ensure it is put to good use. 

Elsewhere, there was big news from the Federal Open Market Committee in the US. The central bank will begin tapering its bond-buying programme, but Fed chair Jay Powell insisted it is too early to think about raising interest rates.

Meanwhile in the UK post-Brexit trade pains continue as the French and British have been locked in a dispute over fishing rights. Last-ditch talks to find a resolution are set for Thursday.

It is a battle on two fronts for the Brits, though. This week news broke that the UK government is seeking to appoint new external legal advisers ahead of a possible overhaul of the Northern Ireland protocol.

But the government was in a less transformational mood when it came to business rates. While announcements in last month’s budget “made some sensible tweaks to the English system,” writes business columnist Helen Thomas, it passed off existing policy as new and pushed “big questions” further downstream.

And in corporate governance, on Monday the UK government launched a new push for more women on listed company boards, building on the Hampton-Alexander review.

There has also been plenty of churn. On Monday, Barclays announced its chief executive Jes Staley was stepping down following an investigation into the way he described his relationship with disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Wednesday saw two further moves. Following a spate of resignations in the Chinese tech sector, Zhang Yiming announced he will relinquish his role as chair of ByteDance, the social media group he founded almost a decade ago.

And back in the UK, Duncan Wanblad became the new chief executive of FTSE 100 mining group Anglo American. He replaces Mark Cutifani who led the company for nine years.

New body.jpg

On Wednesday, The IFRS Foundation announced it will form an International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to develop global sustainability disclosure requirements.

Both The Climate Disclosure Standards Board and the Value Reporting Foundation supported the plan, and said they would merge with the board by June next year.

If this has you thinking about ESG disclosures, the World Economic Forum has an interesting article on the importance of real-time data

Law firm Clifford Chance also has a useful briefing on the UK government’s recent announcement regarding mandatory climate-related financial disclosures for large businesses.

Don’t forget, there are plenty more resources on our online hub FT.com/Board.
The hidden cultural benefits of AI (Report from BCG GAMMA, the BCG Henderson Institute and the MIT Sloan Management Review)
US puts Israeli spyware firm NSO Group on trade blacklist (News from the FT)
We recently hosted a virtual event Net positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take. Paul Polman, former chief executive of Unilever and co-founder and chair of IMAGINE, discussed the challenges boards face in dealing with ESG and how business leaders can harness their power to deliver meaningful change.

If you missed it, watch the replay here.

The FT Board Director Programme helps participants understand the requirements of the director role and how to carry out their duties successfully – for their own benefit and that of the companies they govern.

You can receive a 10% discount on any of these upcoming workshops below by entering the code FTBD10:

So You Want To Be a Non-Executive Director? | Virtual workshop | 16 March 2022

The Effective Non-Executive Director | Two-day workshop London | 30 & 31 March 2022

How To Get Your First Non-Executive Director Role | London | 25 May 2022

Board Director Online series | Flexible eLearning courses | 3 month license

To discuss your individual or organisational needs please contact the team: [email protected]
How do you like the Board Director newsletter?
Let us know by emailing [email protected]

And please forward this newsletter to other board members too.
They can join FT Board Director via FT.com/board-director