'Our pensions are powerful, and we must use that power to build a better world'
Film producer and co-founder of Comic Relief, Richard Curtis, has launched a campaign to help make the UK's £3tr of pension assets more sustainable and ensure it is invested in building a better world after the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign - Make My Money Matter - was launched at an event yesterday and aims to build a movement of individuals, organisations, and pension funds to drive change across the sector.
It is calling on the pensions industry to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and for the government to require through the forthcoming Pension Schemes Bill that all pension funds report on their emissions projections to 2050 and their alignment with the Paris Agreement.
A total of 21 organisations have joined the initiative so far, including Oxfam, WWF, Comic Relief, Triodos Bank, BNP Paribas (UK), Ecotricity, and the Environment Agency Pension Fund, one of the UK's largest local government pension schemes.
To mark the launch, Curtis was joined in a virtual panel discussion with experts in sustainable finance including UN special envoy for climate action and finance Mark Carney, Nest chief executive Helen Dean, HSBC UK Pension Scheme trustee chairman Russell Picot, and WWF chief executive Tanya Steele.
Commenting on the launch, Curtis said: "Our pensions are powerful, and we must use that power to build a better world. The £3tr in our UK pension pot is more than enough to take on the climate emergency, bring hundreds of new drugs to market, or help solve the housing crisis. But from tobacco to fossil fuels, gambling to deforestation, pension funds have invested trillions on our behalf without asking us the crucial question - do these investments create a world that we actually want to live in? That is why Make My Money Matter will help people understand their 'financial footprint', and empower us all to have pensions we can be proud of."
His comments were echoed by Carney who argued that "by helping align finance with society's values, the Make My Money Matter campaign can support the whole economy transition required to achieve net zero".
"This could turn the existential risks from climate change into the greatest commercial opportunity of our time," he added. "Private finance, including pension funds, will provide the $3.5tr needed annually for investments in sustainable infrastructure and fund the innovation and re-engineering of business in every sector of the economy. Make My Money Matter and our work for COP 26 will help investors disclose how their client's money is supporting these investment needs, so people can decide whether their priorities are being met. This will help deliver the world that our citizens demand and that future generations deserve."
Research commissioned by Make My Money Matter shows a growing level of concern around investment impacts amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly a third of people with a pension saying they now care even more about the impact their pension has on people and the planet compared with the start of the crisis.
Just over half of the respondents want to see their pensions invested in building a better future for people and the planet post-coronavirus, and a similar number want their pensions to be part of the solution in tackling climate change.
This demand is contrasted with a lack of knowledge, with the survey revealing that nearly three quarters of Brits who have a pension either do not believe or do not know whether their pension is invested in line with their values.
People can show their support for the campaign by signing a petition calling on UK pension funds to put people and planet alongside profit.
This article first appeared at Professional Pensions
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