Theweekendleader

Pension funds, insurers pledge carbon neutrality by 2050

New York

23-September-2019

 In one of the boldest actions yet by the world's largest investors to decarbonise the global economy, an alliance of the world's largest pension funds and insurers -- responsible for directing more than $2.4 trillion in investments - on Monday committed to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.

This commitment by the newly launched, UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, was announced at the UN Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit, which brought together governments, companies and civil society to strengthen commitments and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The Alliance is an example of investors stepping up to protect people and the planet with the knowledge that companies that transform their businesses to deliver a low carbon economy will benefit most from the opportunities presented by climate change.

Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Inger Andersen said: "There are no short-cuts to decisive climate action. We need to take a long-term view. I applaud the leadership of the investors in this Alliance. Their commitment sends a strong signal that financial markets and investors are listening to science, and moving us to a path of resilience and sustainability."

Asset owners -- so called because they are the principal holders of retirement savings or are insurance companies investing their customers' premiums -- represent some of the largest pools of capital on the planet.

Their investment portfolios are highly diversified and exposed to all sectors of the global economy.

Concerned about the disruptive impact that unabated climate change will have on societies and economies, now and in the future, responsible asset owners are powerful allies in global action to fight climate change and limit the rise in global temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius warming.

As long-term investors who must look far into the future to fund their liabilities, asset owners are keen to ensure that the global economy prospers, that climate-related risks are addressed, and that opportunities to invest in a cleaner tomorrow are captured.

The Alliance was initiated by Allianz, Caisse des Depots, La Caisse de depots et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark and Swiss Re at the beginning of 2019.

Since then, Alecta, AMF, CalPERS, Nordea Life and Pension, Storebrand, and Zurich have joined as founding members.

Convened by the UNEP's Finance Initiative and the Principles for Responsible Investment, the Alliance is supported by WWF and is part of the Mission 2020 campaign, an initiative led by Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

"Mitigating climate change is the challenge of our lifetime. Politics, business and societies across the globe need to act as one to rapidly reduce climate emissions. We, as asset owners, will live up to our responsibility and, in dialogue with the companies in which we invest, steer towards low-carbon business practices. We've already started and, by 2050, our portfolios will be climate neutral," said Oliver Bate, Allianz's CEO.

The members of the Alliance will immediately start to engage with the companies in which they are investing to ensure they decarbonise their business models.IANS