Pensions fail on climate as Google goes green

Written by Lori Campbell on 11th Oct 2021

Most UK pension schemes are failing to act on climate change in the run up to crucial COP26 talks in Glasgow, as Google unveils a raft of new sustainability features aimed at helping consumers make greener choices. Meanwhile, public development banks are linked to £587 billion in annual nature destruction, ‘frustrated’ Gen Z’ers are the most likely age group to hold unethical companies to account, and the UK’s biggest community energy project issues a £1.75 million bond offer to help tackle climate change. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief.

Most UK pension schemes failing to act on climate ahead of COP26

The majority of large UK pension schemes are failing to act on climate change ahead of crunch COP26 talks, Make My Money Matter has warned.

New research by the group, which is led by filmmaker Richard Curtis, found that 72 of 100 major schemes are yet to make robust net-zero commitments.

It estimated that £2 trillion in UK pension schemes are still negatively impacting the climate. The contrast between defined benefit (DB) pension schemes and defined contribution (DC) workplace pensions is stark, with DB schemes lagging behind.

However, the research shows that sizeable DC workplace pension providers have joined the ‘race to zero’ campaign, with almost all of the leading 15 making credible emissions reduction pledges.

Make My Money Matter is now calling on all schemes to commit to stringent net zero targets and for UK Government to make these mandatory.

Change your pension for good with our latest Good Guide to Pensions


Google launches tools to help one billion people make ‘greener choices’

Google has unveiled a raft of new sustainability features aimed at helping consumers make greener choices.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, announced that from today the tech giant will offer a “green badge” for lower emissions choices on its Google Flights, information on hotels’ eco-friendly efforts in the “about” tab, and data on where to find the nearest bike or e-scooter in over 300 cities worldwide.

When people search for energy-intensive products like dishwashers or washing machines, suggestions in the Shopping tab will help narrow your search to cost-effective and sustainable options.

There will also be “portfolio scores” covering around 100,000 firms for retail investors to see how green their investments really are.

Check how green your pension and investments are with new tool


Banks linked to £587bn in annual nature destruction, report warns

Investments made by public development banks are causing around $800 billion (£587 billion) of damage to nature and ecosystems every year, a new report warns.

The study by global think tank Finance for Biodiversity Initiative (F4B) is now calling for greater testing and transparency of the banks’ lending to reduce the huge risks to biodiversity.

The report finds that the value of ‘nature at risk’ investments currently equate to seven cents for every dollar invested. The banks are lending to nature-sensitive sectors – notably food, mining and infrastructure – that often take place in environments rich in biodiversity, the study says.

In infrastructure construction, mining or agriculture, surrounding wetlands or forests could be destroyed and lead to overuse or pollution of local water supplies.

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Gen Z’ers most likely to hold unethical companies to account, reveals new report

‘Frustrated’ Gen Z’ers are most likely to hold unethical companies to account, a new report reveals.

The study by shareholder services provider EQ suggests a rising number of young investors will question companies that fail to live up to their commitments on ethics and the environment.

According to the survey of 2,000 retail investors in the UK and US, 83 per cent of Gen Z (18-24 years old) investors are frustrated when a company in which they have invested behaves in a way they deem unethical. This compares to 81 per cent of Millennial (25-40 years old) investors and 61 per cent of investors who are Baby Boomers (57-75 years old).

Some 43 per cent of Gen Z investors feel the companies in which they own shares are not doing enough to communicate their commitment on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

These young investors are also the most likely to act on their frustrations, with 87 per cent of those under 40 intending to vote in an AGM, or are already doing so, compared with 68 per cent of those between 57 and 75 years old.

Take your first step into sustainable investing with our Good Guide for First Time Investors

UK’s biggest community energy project issues £1.75m bond offer

The UK’s largest community energy project, in Barnsley, Yorkshire, has issued a £1.75 million bond offer to help tackle climate change.

Energise Barnsley has launched the offer on sustainable investment platform Ethex to help expand its network of rooftop solar arrays on homes, community buildings and council buildings. To date, it has fitted panels on more than 320 council houses.

It is also working with the Community Energy Society, contributing to a national study on the benefits of installing multiple low-carbon technologies at residential buildings, such as solar, a smart battery and an electric heat pump.

Ethex’s chief executive Lisa Ashford said: “Over the past week, there’s been a huge debate around making our homes more energy efficient and how millions of people will see a spike in energy bills as gas prices rise. Energise Barnsley is a fantastic community-based organisation that is tackling fuel poverty and climate change head-on. It’s a real model for other councils across the UK.” The bond offer is targeting a four per cent return. As with all investments, your capital is at risk.

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