The UK pensions industry, government and the general population are united with their belief that the power of institutional investor capital should be harnessed to help limit climate change. But while there is consensus on the need for long term net-zero emissions targets, occupational pension scheme trustees are not yet legally obligated to set net zero targets for their asset portfolios.
The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, published in August, made it clear that immediate emissions reductions are vital to limiting global warming to 1.5°C degrees and thereby preserve financial stability. Mercer's own climate scenario analysis suggests that the 1.5°C scenario is an imperative for long-term investors. On that basis, it would therefore be in the long-term best interests of investors to support this outcome by taking action today, rather than simply hoping it will happen. The IPCC authors tell us that net zero is achievable, but only if we act now.
Multiple pieces of research indicate that pension scheme members want their scheme’s investment strategy to consider people and planet as well as profit. Asset allocation decisions play a central role in driving change as the prospect of securing more capital incentivises company management to improve their sustainability performance.
The UK Pension Schemes Act 2021 has paved the way for new climate change governance and reporting requirements for large pension funds. As well as climate reporting, the Department for Work and Pensions is requiring trustees to set climate related targets no further than 10 years away, even if they already have longer term net-zero targets. The new regulations will steer trustees to focus on near term actions with their climate risk management.
At the European leg of our Global Investment Forum in London, leading pension scheme professionals shared their personal views on approaches to decarbonisation. Every client has a slightly different, and equally valid, opinion and it was very interesting to hear their views and learn how we can assist. Some of the themes discussed at the Forum included:
Immediate emissions reductions are vital to limiting global warming to 1.5°C degrees and thereby preserve financial stability.
The UK Pension Schemes Act 2021 puts new climate change governance and reporting requirements on large pension funds.
UK Sustainability Integration Lead
Vanessa’s role as UK Sustainability Integration Lead allows her to help asset owners take a pragmatic and structured approach to the important, but complex, subject of sustainable investment, and go beyond basic compliance in a proportionate way.
Please complete the form below to get in touch with a Mercer ESG expert