In the leadup to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Jesuits in Britain, alongside 24 other institutional investors, released a set of climate-related minimum expectations for the asset management industry. These laid out core actions and principles necessary for the industry to support global efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Since the release of the declaration, the world’s top climate scientists and energy experts have identified new oil, coal and gas projects as an urgent threat to the critical 1.5 degree heating target. The academic community has also raised the alarm on planned fossil fuel expansion, with more than 700 UK scientists signing an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to halt new oil and gas licensing in the North Sea earlier this year. In this context, it is vital that asset managers’ efforts to support a 1.5-degree aligned transition prioritise halting new fossil fuel projects.
To this end, many of the same institutions have come together as part of a coalition of investors representing more than £4.5 billion in assets under management to re-engage their asset managers on the issue of fossil fuel expansion in order to assess how far the industry is meeting the original declaration’s expectations. In a new letter, which is available publicly on the COP26 Declaration website, we have urged our investment managers – and the wider investment management industry - to take a firm stance against fossil fuel expansion by:
1). Committing not to make new investments linked to fossil fuel expansion, including new bond issues by companies pursuing new fossil fuel development.
2). Escalating engagement with companies in their portfolios which pursue or facilitate new fossil fuel projects by voting against the re-election of their directors to the company’s board.
3). Voting in favour of pro-climate shareholder resolutions at company annual general meetings (AGMs), particularly those which aim to halt companies’ involvement in new fossil fuel projects.
In making these requests of our asset manager, and releasing them publicly, we hope to contribute to industry best-practice and encourage other investors to engage with their investment managers. In doing so, we can help to ensure that investment managers – who control trillions in investment capital globally on behalf of their clients – are adopting the most ambitious possible approach to ensuring a rapid, just and orderly transition towards a zero-carbon economy.
The Laudato Si' Research Institute, which was set up by the Jesuits in Britain, continues to offer a transdisciplinary approach to socio-ecological research and to inspire a new and creative dialogue between the academy and those who are invested in socio-ecological change. You can find out more about the institute here.
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