Church of England joins Asset Owner Alliance

The Church of England’s three National Investing Bodies (NIBs) have become the latest investors to join the UN’s Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance – taking the alliance’s total assets under management to more than $4.3 trillion.

In joining the coalition, the Church’s three entities – the Commissioners for England, the Church of England Pensions Board and CBF Church of England Funds – have pledged to transition their investment portfolios to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The three funds, which describe themselves as ethical investors, join insurance giant Generali which also announced its commitment to the alliance, taking the total membership numbers to 18.

Under the terms of the alliance, members are required to align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious 1.5°C global temperature target.

“Climate change is the challenge of our age,” said Andrew Brown, chief executive of the Church Commissioners for England.

“The 2020s are the decade in which we need to make decisive progress, both halting the growth in global GHG emissions and setting the world on course to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Mr Brown said the Church Commissioners was pleased to state its commitment to transition its investment portfolio and called for others to do so.

“We urge all governments, investors and companies also to commit to net-zero 2050 to address the climate emergency,” he added.

Rapid expansion
The UN-convened alliance, launched in September 2019 by asset managers Allianz, PensionDanmark, and SwissRe, has quickly grown and attracted some of the world’s largest investors and insurers into its fold including Zurich, Aviva and AXA.

According to the organisation’s manifesto, its objectives for 2020 will focus on three core areas. These include advancing the measurement and public reporting, engaging with portfolio companies on a net-zero target, and engaging policymakers towards policies supportive of net-zero economy ambitions.

Fiona Reynolds, chief executive officer of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) said the Asset Owner Alliance is “perhaps the most exciting climate initiative of the new decade”.

Tim Ryan, group chief investment officer and CEO of asset and wealth management at Generali, added: “We are proud to be part of the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. It is about walking the talk and further aligning our investment portfolio to our long-term commitments. As a financial services operator we feel the responsibility of contributing to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.”  

The investor group stated its members will ramp up engagement with companies they invest in, working together with initiatives such as the UN Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5°C, the Investor Agenda, the Science Based Targets initiative, Climate Action 100+, and the WEF Mission Possible Platform.

Last Updated: 31 January 2020
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