By 2025, 29 of the world’s biggest pension funds and investment firms, including Allianz SE and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, intend to have cut the emissions of their portfolio holdings by at least 25%.
The targets, which cover publicly-traded equities, corporate bonds and real estate portfolios, were announced in a statement by the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, which was convened by the United Nations. Other firms that are part of the group and have also made such a commitment include Aviva Plc and Swiss Re AG.
Eliminating emissions generated from their holdings has become a growing focus for investors and the window for taking action is narrowing. Scientists have said global greenhouse-gas emissions need to drop by about 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by the middle of the century to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
“The Alliance was formed because we believe asset owners have a unique role in the global economy and financial systems,” Günther Thallinger, the group’s chair who also serves on Allianz’s management board, said in the statement. “We want to show that we are prepared to lead the way by first changing ourselves and then to reach out to others to join us.”
The emissions reduction targets only cover direct emissions and those produced from energy sources that the company buys, so-called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The Alliance’s members should track Scope 3 emissions, which result from customers using portfolio companies’ products, but they aren’t required to set targets until the data become more reliable.
The Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance now has 56 members that collectively manage $9.3 trillion of assets, according to the statement. Only asset owners that commit to achieving net-zero portfolios by 2050, and that establish intermediate targets every five years in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C can be members.
Alliance members also are required to report on the amount of financing they have provided to “climate solutions,” with a report published showing asset owners have an average 4% of their assets in such investments.