Large U.K. pension funds should not wait for the upcoming U.N. climate change conference, known as COP26, to commit to net-zero targets for addressing climate change, the non-profit campaign Make My Money Matter said Thursday.
Make My Money Matter sent letters to 73 of the largest defined benefit funds in the U.K., including the £64 billion ($85 billion) Universities Superannuation Scheme, Liverpool, the pension fund for academic staff employed by British universities. Other recipients included The Natwest Group Pension Fund, Barclays Bank Retirement Fund, HSBC Bank Pension Scheme, BP Pension Fund, Shell Contributory Pension Fund, BBC Pension Scheme and Rolls-Royce Pension Schemes.
The letter asks them to commit to net-zero by using seven criteria that include:
- Matching the 1.5 degrees Celsius ambition of the Paris Agreement and reaching full net-zero no later than 2050.
- Rapidly exiting from all coal investments.
- Active engagement and proxy voting with companies.
- Divesting where necessary.
- Investing in climate solutions.
A similar letter was sent to defined contribution trustees, encouraging them to commit to net-zero targets. Make My Money Matter CEO Tony Burdon said in a news release that the focus was broadened to the DB sector because it accounts for the large majority of the U.K.'s £2.6 trillion pension industry. "These schemes have extraordinary power to help tackle the climate crisis and protect savers' investments, but many have yet to respond to growing demand for cleaner, greener pensions," he said.
On May 19, the Make My Money Matter campaign kicked of the green pledge, "to ensure the £2.6 trillion in U.K. pensions builds a better world," by having pension fund officials and service providers commit to net-zero emissions targets before COP26 begins Oct. 31.
The group's website includes a quote from Mark Carney, the United Nations Envoy on Climate Action and Finance and former Bank of England governor: "By helping align the trillions in our pensions with society's values ... this campaign will support the whole economy transition required to achieve net zero."