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Investors With $29 Trillion Demand Science-Based Climate Targets

Alastair Marsh September 28, 2021

A coalition of financial firms overseeing a combined $29.3 trillion of assets are calling on some of the world’s biggest corporate emitters to “urgently” set science-based emissions reduction targets that are compatible with 1.5° Celsius of global warming.

Allianz SECredit Agricole SA and Legal & General Investment Management are among 220 institutions that have written to 1,600 companies to request they set emissions reduction targets through the Science Based Targets initiative, a widely-endorsed program for screening corporate climate plans. The financial firms are asking companies, including Hyundai Motor Co.Duke Energy Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co., to align their targets with a 1.5°C pathway.

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Investors are facing growing pressure to use their vast resources to pressure companies to cut emissions, and expectations for investor action are only set to increase with the much-anticipated United Nations climate summit due to start at the end of next month. There is a steep hill to climb. The Science Based Targets initiative said earlier this month that the vast majority of companies in the world’s major economies are failing to make climate pledges that can be measured against meaningful yardsticks, and only a fifth of the more than 4,200 companies based in Group of 20 economies have signed up to science-based reporting.

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“We need more companies to commit to carbon reduction targets and those already on this journey need to demonstrate these reductions are robust,” Aela Cozic, sustainable investing analyst and portfolio manager at Fidelity International, said in an interview. “The ask from investors is pretty clear, and the more we see companies introduce these targets the more likely they will be able to go in a net-zero investment portfolio.”

For a roundup of ESG stories: See NI ESGDAILY.

The companies targeted by the coalition have a market capitalization of more than $41 trillion and account for 11.9 gigatons of direct emissions, which is equivalent to more than the annual greenhouse-gas pollution of the U.S. and the European Union combined. 

Environmental nonprofit CDP, which is one of four institutions behind the Science-Based Targets initiative, coordinated the campaign. A similar effort in 2020 resulted in 154 companies, with emissions roughly equivalent to those of Germany, setting science-based targets.

“This serves the cause of investors since a huge amount of money says it wants to be net zero-aligned, or 1.5 degrees-aligned, and the reality is they can only lend to or invest in one in 10 companies using that criteria,” said Laurent Babikian, joint global director of capital markets at CDP.

Axa Investment ManagersAmundi SABlueBay Asset Management and MFS Investment Management are also among the 220 finance firms.

“The adoption of emissions reduction targets by both corporates and investors is critical,” said Jean-Jacques Barbéris, director of the institutional and corporate clients division and ESG at Amundi. “Today, we fully integrate the emissions trajectory of the companies we invest in. Adapting their business models to the climate challenge as well as aligning with the Paris Agreement isn’t just desirable anymore, but a necessity to ensure long-term growth and profitability.”


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