Pension funds press govt to do more to remove net zero barriers
UK pension schemes are increasingly making progress towards net zero alignment, but a majority believe there are still obstacles the Government could remove to assist their work to address climate risk.
According to a new survey conducted by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), six in 10 UK schemes have a net zero alignment in place.
Most schemes said their scheme or fund has made significant progress in playing its part in the transition to a net zero society (70%), especially local government pension schemes (100%).
However, one in 10 say their focus on ESG has been reduced as a result of recent economic developments, such as the cost-of-living crisis and market volatility.
Schemes that did not yet have a net zero commitment in place said this was largely to do with the difficulties of comparing like-for-like data received from investee companies and wanting to ensure their commitment is robust.
Most respondents (59%) are not confident the UK will meet its climate target (59%), and most are concerned with recent updates which suggest there is no sustainable pathway to achieving warming of less than 2 degrees (74%).
The survey results are being published in light of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which said humanity is likely to overshoot targets to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.
More than half feel the Government should be doing more to help investors go further to address climate risk (56%).
Over half also believe the Government could do more to remove obstacles to assist pension funds (53%), although one in 10 (11%) disagree.
Having a coherent strategy on sustainable energy security and contributing to international bodies to define and standardise ESG measurement and reporting standards were some examples of the steps respondents said Government could take.
Pension schemes are calling on the Government to progress its Green Finance Strategy, progress and finalise the UK green taxonomy, ensure climate reporting is embedded across the investment chain (at present many of the largest employers remain outside of scope) and accelerate efforts to make the City of London the world’s first net zero financial centre.
Nigel Peaple, Director Policy & Advocacy at PLSA, said: “The IPCC’s “final warning” highlights the severity of not taking action to address the environmental crisis humanity faces."
He stressed that pensions "a key role" in ensuring the world meets its commitment to minimise global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees and in leading the financial sector to this goal.
“Many pension funds have already made a commitment towards achieving net zero and we expect more will choose to do the same in the near future," People said.
"Government has an important role to play in helping pension funds achieve their net zero targets, by actions such as adopting a clear strategy on sustainable energy security and helping set and define meaningful standards for ESG measurement and reporting. We ask Government to prioritise these actions," he concluded.