Lightbulb drawn around tree image, indicating sustainable ideas

Assets invested in environmental, social and governance (ESG) ETFs and exchange-traded products reached a record US$371 billion globally as of the end of November.

According to research firm ETFGI, that represents an 84.3% year-to-date increase, up from US$201 billion at the end of 2020. Net inflows over the same period amounted to US$146.84 billion, much higher than the US$68.59 billion gathered at the same point last year.

Equity ESG products have driven inflows, accounting for $111.4 billion this year, the report said. After 33 new ESG products were launched globally in November, there are now 872 ESG products from 177 providers.

Yet confusion persists, the firm cautioned in its release, due to lack of clarity around what constitutes an ESG fund.

Investor concern around ESG definitions was similarly identified in the sixth-annual investor opinion survey from the Responsible Investment Association, released earlier this month.