UK investors urge G7 to force firms to reveal their climate change exposure

An influential group of UK investors are urging G7 leaders to follow the UK’s lead by forcing firms to come clean about their exposure to climate risks.

In a letter to ambassadors and high commissioners sent ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, the Investment Association (IA) also called on the world’s largest developed economies to issue sector-by-sector guidance to help firms plan to meet Paris Agreement climate goals, which aim to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees celsius.

G7 members – which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – should coordinate and standardise climate reporting standards, the IA added. The group represents asset managers including Legal & General, Schroders and Aviva, which together have a combined £8.5tn under management.

The climate recommendations are part of the UK trade body’s efforts to help its members decarbonise their investment portfolios, a task which has been complicated by a lack of information on climate risks linked to the companies they invest in. With more data, investment chiefs can pressure individual companies that are failing to transition to a climate-friendly business model. They can also threaten to pull their cash altogether.

IA members with more than £5tn in assets under management – including Allianz Global Investors, Jupiter Asset Management, and M&G Investments – have pledged that their portfolios’ carbon emissions will reach net zero by 2050.

“The meeting of the G7 is a prime opportunity for the world’s largest economies to take a coordinated, global approach to tackling climate change,” Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said.

“As an industry which invests in companies around the world on behalf of both UK and overseas savers and investors, investment managers have a vital role to play in the shift to a more sustainable global economy.

“Ensuring high-quality and comparable data on the risks that companies face from climate change is key to achieving this and meeting the net zero targets.”

Last year, the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, revealed the UK would make climate reporting mandatory for large companies and financial institutions by 2025, going further than recommended by the taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures, and making the UK the first G20 country to do so.

The IA now wants all G7 countries to make similar commitments, and set reporting standards that will make it easier to compare the progress made by companies in different countries.

Together, IA members have about £3.7tn invested in foreign assets, including stocks and bonds. The lobby group has said comparable data is “vital” for keeping tabs on international firms within their investment portfolios, and making informed decisions on behalf of pension schemes and savers.

The lobby group also wants leaders to agree on common standards for green government bonds, which are meant to fund renewable or clean energy projects. It comes amid growing demand for environmentally friendly investments.

A number of G7 countries, including France, Italy and Germany, have issued green sovereign bonds. The UK government is due to issue its first green bond this year.

“In isolation, these measures are to be welcomed but we must not forget that both financial markets and climate-related risk are global,” the IA letter said. “It is vital, therefore, that forums such as the G7 consider how to take action which is coordinated and global in outlook.”

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