The U.K.'s Pensions Regulator issued its first fine against a pension fund for failing to publish a report on how its trustees manage and govern climate-related risks and opportunities, delivering a £5,000 ($6,118) penalty to the ExxonMobil Pension Plan, Leatherhead, England.
U.K. pension funds with more than £5 billion in assets have been required to publish a climate change report by a set deadline since October 2021. The report must be made publicly available on a website so participants can see that trustees are taking climate-related risks and opportunities into account when making decisions. The rules came out of recommendations made by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
The pension fund's trustees said that, although the report had been produced by the deadline of July 31, it was not published due to an administrative error, a news release by TPR said. TPR investigated the publication of 80 climate change reports and was unable to find ExxonMobil Pension Plan's online. The regulator contacted the trustees of the plan and the report was published six days later.
The matter was resolved in July when ExxonMobil paid the penalty, which had been issued in May.
A comment provided by a spokesperson for ExxonMobil said: "This issue resulted from an administrative error. We take our climate reporting obligations seriously and as soon as we discovered the issue, we corrected the problem."
The ExxonMobil Pension Plan had more than £7 billion in assets, TPR said.
Pension funds that fail to correctly publish a climate change report on time face a mandatory minimum penalty of £2,500. The maximum penalty is £5,000 where a trustee is an individual, and £50,000 for a corporate body acting as trustees.
TPR "applied an amount above the minimum because it was a corporate body and to reflect the nature of the breach," the regulator said in a separate notice on its website.
"In our role to protect savers, we take climate change requirements extremely seriously," Nicola Parish, executive director for frontline regulation at TPR, said in the release. "Our case against the ExxonMobil Pension Plan shows we will and must act by using the mandatory fining regime set out in law."
The requirement to report on climate change will be phased in across smaller retirement plans.
"The case serves as a warning to trustees about the importance of having proper governance and oversight where third parties are carrying out tasks on their behalf," she said.