13 Dec 2019 Press release Climate change

Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance surges to nearly $4 trillion at COP25; other investors urged to get on board

  • New members Axa, Aviva, CNP, FRR join 177 businesses committing to a 1.5C pathway at COP25, as private sector ambition gathers pace

Madrid, 13 December 2019 – Two months after 12 of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers committed to decarbonise their investments by 2050, four more large investors have joined the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance.

The new members of the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, AXA, Aviva, CNP Assurances and Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR) bring the total assets under management targeting carbon neutrality by 2050 to more than $3.9 trillion.

The Alliance is a group of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers committing to fully decarbonise their portfolios to avoid a global temperature increase above the 1.5°C Paris target. Launched in September at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, it was initiated by Allianz, Caisse des Dépôts (CDC), La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark, and Swiss Re, who were joined by Alecta, AMF, CalPERS, Nordea Life and Pension, Storebrand and Zurich as founding members.

The rapid growth of the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance comes alongside similar growth in the UN Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5 Campaign announced at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, showing the private sector taking a leading role in the push to boost climate ambition. 

Both initiatives form part of the Climate Ambition Alliance led by Chile and launched at the Climate Action Summit in New York in September. The Alliance also included over 60 countries, key regional economies and over 100 cities – including many of the world’s largest – committing to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Executive Director of UNEP Inger Andersen, speaking at the high-level Caring for Climate event at COP 25, attended by the UN Secretary-General and other global leaders from the private and public sector, said: “Clearly, business is leaning in because you understand this is imperative - not only to do good, but to do right and to be profitable in the long run. We are working together with these institutional investors to help them shift corporate behaviour to align with the Paris Agreement. If we can get the top 100 asset owners who represent US$ $55 trillion in assets under management to make that shift, we can play a fundamental role in combatting the climate crisis.”

The Alliance has said it will use its powerful voice to engage with governments and ask them to urgently increase their Nationally Determined Contributions. According to UNEP’s latest Emissions Gap report, G20 nations collectively account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but only five G20 members have committed to a long-term zero emissions target. Several senior representatives from the Alliance are speaking at COP25 at events that bring together financial institutions and policymakers from around the globe.

Christiana Figueres, convener of the Mission 2020 campaign and former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), said: “Reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 is a global imperative made clear by science, with huge benefits for all of society.

“We are all better off when finance is flowing towards a liveable future, and this announcement makes clear that investors are committed to that pathway. That the world's asset owners are collaborating unequivocally to limit warming to 1.5°C should be a real boost for all governments preparing to step up their own commitments under Paris in 2020," she added.

By joining the Alliance, members hold themselves accountable on progress by setting and publicly reporting on intermediate targets in line with the Paris Agreement. The Alliance has already begun the process of establishing a work plan for 2020.

Members will ramp up engagement with the companies in which they are invested, working together with initiatives such as the UN Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5°C, the Investor Agenda, the Science Based Targets initiative and Climate Action 100+.

Convened by UNEP’s Finance Initiative and the Principles for Responsible Investment, the Alliance is supported by WWF and is part of the Mission 2020 campaign, which aims to drive urgent action to limit the effects of climate change.

NOTES TO EDITORS

About United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

UNEP FI is a partnership between United Nations Environment Programme and the global financial sector created in the wake of the 1992 Earth Summit with a mission to promote sustainable finance. More than 260 financial institutions, including banks, insurers, and investors, work with UN Environment to understand today’s environmental, social and governance challenges, why they matter to finance, and how to actively participate in addressing them.

For more information contact:

Sally Wootton: sally.wootton[at]un.org, +41 22 917 8591

Oliver Wagg: oliver.wagg[at]un.org, +44 7885 377 264