‘Sustainable’ pension funds accused of greenwashing over billions held in oil and gas firms

15 05 2023

A refinery in the US owned by ExxonMobil, one of the companies invested in by supposedly ‘green’ funds. Photograph: Barry Lewis/In Pictures/Getty Images

Warning comes as UK watchdog set to tighten rules for asset managers given short-term targets. By Bewtasy Reed, Editor from the Guardian.com • Reposted: May 15, 2023

People investing their pensions in funds that claim green credentials are being warned they may actually be backing the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

Carbon Tracker Initiative said that asset managers have invested $376bn (£295bn) in oil and gas companies, despite publicly pledging to back efforts to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. The environmental thinktank based in London and New York found that more than 160 funds with a green label held $4.6bn in 15 companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies.

It also found that 25 members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative had invested in those companies and some had increased their holdings in 2022. NZAM said its international initiative started two years ago and investors needed time to change their strategies.

The warning comes as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority prepares to publish anti-greenwashing rules that are intended to clean up how investment funds are labelled.

Just under 50% of all UK employees now pay into employer schemes or private pensions where they can make a choice about how their money is invested – a huge rise since 2012 when employers became legally obliged to automatically enrol workers in a workplace scheme. Most people with a private pension or a stocks and shares ISA make a choice as to how their money is invested and many emphasise sustainability.

The financial industry has reacted by creating funds badged as sustainable, climate, carbon, transition or ESG – short for environmental, social and governance.

“What we found is that these funds, despite their names, can often include sometimes large positions in fossil fuel companies,” said Maeve O’Connor, one of the report’s authors, and an analyst at the Carbon Tracker Initiative. “For retail investors that could be seen to be misleading. If I’m investing in a green fund, do I want my investment to be going to ExxonMobil? Probably not.”

According to the report, BlackRock’s ACS Climate Transition World Equity Fund says it invests in companies “well-positioned to maximise the opportunities and minimise the potential risks associated with a transition to a low-carbon economy” – but it has $219m in 10 of the 15 leading oil and gas companies.

O’Connor said asset managers were usually given performance targets over short periods, which might influence their thinking. She said: “They could be assessed over two to five years and that timescale doesn’t really fit with the realities of the energy transition.”

Coalitions such as UK Divest and Share Action campaign for pension funds to be invested sustainably. Robert Noyes, an energy economist at Platform London, part of UK Divest, said that with about £2tn invested in pensions, it was the largest source of investment in the UK and people should ask their pension providers for information.

“People should ask three questions,” he said. “Does it invest in the problem, like a company that spends money on fossil fuels? Does it invest in things that drive changes in the real economy that lead environmental programmes? So, for example, it’s hard to see how investing in Microsoft is driving a change towards net zero.

“And thirdly, is it vocal about the need for political action?”

A spokesperson for NZAM said that while its partners “share Carbon Tracker’s perspective that the oil and gas industry must very rapidly decarbonise to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, the Net Zero Asset Managers’ commitment statement does not require signatories to choose equity holdings to meet a particular climate target”. It added: “Passive investors cannot divest from the oil and gas sector without significantly changing their investment strategy.”

NZAM expected those funds with passive portfolios to engage in dialogue with companies, proxy voting and policy advocacy to align their holdings with the 1.5C commitment. Asset managers depended on governments to follow through their own commitments under the Paris agreement, the spokesperson added.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/may/14/sustainable-pension-funds-accused-of-greenwashing-over-billions-held-in-oil-and-gas-firms

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Net Zero Goals: Moving from Why to How to Now

4 02 2023

Image credits: Nicholas Doherty/Unsplash and Meta

By Edward Palmieri via triple pundit.com Reposted: February 4, 2023

In 2020, Meta achieved net zero greenhouse gas emissions for our global operations and today, we are supported by 100 percent renewable energy. These are good first steps, but we have so, so much work still to do to become a fully sustainable company.

That was my thought as I arrived in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the 27th annual U.N. climate conference, or COP27. Held in November 2022 and dubbed the Climate Implementation Summit, the event gathered leaders from the public, nonprofit and private sectors — the global sustainability community — to debate, celebrate and negotiate global climate action.

Going in, “implement” was the word top of mind as leaders were expected to follow up on ambitious goals set the year before in Glasgow, Scotland. By day eight, however, the word on my mind was “mired.” As in: Are we, collectively, moving fast enough?

This year’s event had its high points — President Joe Biden’s address to world leaders, in which he affirmed the United States’ commitment to a low-carbon future, was certainly one. But COP27 missed the mark in some key ways, such as creating financing for developing countriesstruggling under the financial burden of climate change and creating mechanisms to help more countries reduce emissions. It is also clear we can all do more to measure and report on yearly progress.

executives discuss net zero at cop27
Edward Palmieri, director of global sustainability at Meta, speaks on a panel with other business leaders at COP27.  Submitted Photo.

At Meta, we believe the private sector has a critical role to play in our global ambitions to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. During a challenging period for the company, focusing on the “true north” of measurable climate action and building climate resilience remains essential to our future and our bottom line.

Year-over-year, our net zero goal remains fixed even as we grow — both in terms of our users today and our plans for the metaverse tomorrow. And along with our net zero ambition, we are progressing related goals, including our aim to restore more water than we consume in our global operations.

Bringing all of this back to COP27, it’s clear that we can’t do it alone. No one can and, in fact, this is one of my favorite things about working in sustainability: collaboration. As we embark on a new year, Meta remains committed to collaborating with those committed to climate change and continues to expand our network of global partners. Most recently, we’ve:

  • Helped launch the Asian Clean Energy Coalition to advance renewable energy procurement in Asia with the World Resources Institute and other technology companies.
  • Joined with the U.S. State Department, USAID, and other companies in PREPARE Call to Action to the Private Sector on Adaptation.
  • Announced a new partnership with Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify and McKinsey Sustainability to launch Frontier, an advanced market commitment to help scale emerging carbon removal technologies that are crucial to tackling climate change.
  • Embraced an Emissions First accounting framework that moves beyond the current approach of megawatt-hour matching and focuses on emissions impact.
  • And during COP27 itself, were honored to support The Resilience Hub, an inclusively-built virtual and physical space that served as the home to the Race to Resilience campaign. Representing more than 1,500 non-state actors taking action on resilience around the world, the hub hosted more than 60 sessions each with incredible speakers offering their expertise and perspectives as well as live performances, art and culture.

Importantly, too, Meta is supporting and amplifying changemakers on the front lines of the climate fight. After our largest-ever global survey about climate change this past spring painted a picture of deep concern among respondents, we’re already seeing meaningful change happen when communities come together. More than 40 million people around the world are part of at least one of the 24,000 Facebook Groups dedicated to the discovery, protection, and appreciation of the earth and our environment.

In the meantime, Meta Sustainability continues to report on its work across our enterprise. As the U.N. High-Level Expert Group report clearly states, integrity matters, which is why our net zero commitments are not only public but are relentlessly tracked and reported each year.

But as the U.N. report notes, a net zero pledge “must contain steppingstone targets for every five years” in line with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or International Energy Agency (IEA) pathways as well as “prioritize urgent and deep reduction of emissions across their value chain.”

We agree. That’s why I look forward to sharing our own specific decarbonization plans in early 2023. And while I look forward to seeing my sustainability peers at COP28 next November as well, I encourage those in the private sector — companies big, small and every size in between— to join us in the climate fight.

Time is literally running out — and we need all of you, and all of your solutions, to make this work.

This article series is sponsored by Meta and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.  To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/accomplishing-net-zero-goals/765196