Earlier posts have highlighted the involvement of the Church of England on climate change issues, and the important role played by its three National Investment Bodies, (NIBs). In April this year, the Church announced that none of its NIBs would make any direct investments in any company where more than 10% of its revenues are derived from the extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands. The announcement coincided with the adoption of a new climate change policy recommended by the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) that sets out how the three national investing bodies (NIBs) will support the transition to a low carbon economy.
On 13 October 2015, the Church of England issued the following Press Release announcing that the Church Commissioners have signed the PRI Montreal Pledge, and have committed to measuring and disclosing the carbon footprint of their equity portfolio each year. The Montréal Carbon Pledge “allows investors (asset owners and investment managers) to formalize their commitment to the goals of the recently announced Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition, which will mobilise investors to measure, disclose and reduce their portfolio carbon footprints at the scale of hundreds of billions of dollars by the December 2015 UN Climate Change Conference”.
Other signatories include: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust; Environment Agency Pension Fund; Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church; University of California; Catholic Super, (an industry superannuation fund); United Church of Canada; AXA Group; CCLA, (Investment Managers, used by the CofE and others); HSBC Global Asset Management; and Universities Superannuation Scheme – USS.
“Church Commissioners sign PRI Montreal Pledge
13 October 2015
Church Commissioners commit to measuring and disclosing carbon footprint of equity portfolio by signing PRI Montreal Pledge
The Church Commissioners for England has announced that it has signed the PRI Montreal Pledge, an initiative that commits signatories to measuring and publicly disclosing the carbon footprint of their equity portfolio each year.
The Pledge was launched last year in Montreal during the annual conference of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which the Commissioners signed up to in 2010, and is also supported by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). It aims to attract commitment from portfolios totalling US$3 trillion in time for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in December 2015. At present, nearly 100 organisations representing over US$8 trillion have signed the pledge.
Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, said “This is an important step for us in our continued drive to be at the forefront of responsible investing practice. Taking account of environmental issues is an intrinsic part of being a good long-term investor, and ahead of COP 21 in Paris, the opportunity to support this pledge couldn’t have come at a more important moment. This underscores our continued commitment to the transition to a low carbon economy.”
Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of the PRI, said “The Church Commissioners are leading advocates for the transition to a low carbon economy. Since the Commissioners became signatories to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment in 2010, we have been encouraged by their commitment to responsible investing, and look forward to continuing our partnership in the run up to Paris and beyond.”
The pledge is part of a series of initiatives taken by the Commissioners to encourage sustainability across their portfolio. Last year the Commissioners co-filed (as a lead in the ‘Aiming for A’ coalition) shareholder resolutions for the BP and Shell AGMs that were subsequently approved overwhelmingly by shareholders, meaning both companies will disclose their strategy to reduce their carbon emissions and adapt their businesses to the challenge of climate change in much more depth.
The Church Commissioners’ work supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community. The Commissioners’ support for churches includes funding towards the ministry of bishops and cathedrals and for mission at a local level. The Commissioners also fund a large share of clergy pensions. The Commissioners invest and manage the Church’s historic resources across a diverse portfolio seeking maximum return for the public benefit.
Responsible investment is an approach to investment that explicitly acknowledges the relevance to investors of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and the importance of well-functioning social, environmental and economic systems for the generation of sustainable investment returns. It complements traditional ethical investment practice (which involves investment exclusions) by recognising the importance of ESG considerations to investment decisions and investment ownership.
The Church Commissioners disclosed information about the relative carbon intensity of their listed equities portfolio for the first time in their 2014 annual report responsible investment review.
For more information about responsible investment, see: www.unpri.org. The Church Commissioners became signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment in 2010.”