Richard Curtis’ Make My Money Matter & Scottish Widows research: Carbon footprint of FTSE100 pensions 7x higher than company emissions

by | Sep 28, 2022

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Make My Money Matter, a climate finance campaign founded by Richard Curtis (pictured) of Love Actually and Comic Relief fame, and pension and investments provider Scottish Widows have today launched new research into the hidden carbon emissions of the FTSE100.

In partnership with sustainability research house Route2, the report reveals that the carbon footprint of FTSE100 pensions is 7x higher than their company emissions. This comes despite widespread efforts throughout the FTSE to operate more sustainably.

Highlights of the report are:

  • Pension investments of major FTSE100 companies finance 131 million tonnes of unreported carbon each year.
  • Despite efforts to operate more sustainably, less than 10% of FTSE100 companies include pensions within their public sustainability strategies.
  • Leaders are failing to understand the issue, with only 45% of CEOs and business leaders acknowledging that their company pension scheme could drive climate change.
  • Inaction flies in the face of rising employee demand, as the majority (72%) of workers want their employer to invest their pension sustainably.

The pension investments of major FTSE100 companies finance 7x more carbon than their UK company emissions according to a new report by Richard Curtis’ climate finance campaign Make My Money Matter and leading pension provider Scottish Widows*.

The research, conducted by sustainability research house Route2, suggests that major businesses’ efforts to operate more sustainably are being undermined by the investments within their company pension schemes. In fact, the investments of FTSE100 pension schemes currently finance an estimated 131 million tonnes of unreported carbon to enter our atmosphere each year.

Poor awareness among leadership around the link between pensions and climate change is compounding the problem. Further research by Make My Money Matter shows that less than half (45%) of CEOs and business leaders know that their company pension scheme could be driving climate change**, and that less than 10% of FTSE100 companies even mention pensions within their sustainability strategies***.

The inaction is out of touch not only with the climate emergency, but also with the growing demands of staff who increasingly want their employers to offer more sustainable pensions. New research by Scottish Widows being released later this month**** shows that the majority (72%) of workers want their employer to invest their pension sustainably, while current job seekers also cite this as a top five employer priority alongside flexible working and attractive holiday packages.

As the effects of climate change are witnessed across the world, with record temperatures, crippling droughts and unprecedented flooding, businesses cannot afford to ignore one of the best carbon-cutting tools at their disposal – their company pension scheme. Make My Money Matter and Scottish Widows hope that this research acts as a wakeup call to all businesses committed to tackling climate change and calls on them to fully integrate pensions into their sustainability strategies.

By doing this, businesses can honour their existing efforts to operate more sustainably, respond to employee demand and use their influence to drive systemic change across the pensions industry.

Richard Curtis, Co-Founder at Make My Money Matter commented:

“This report leaves us in no doubt – pensions are one of the most powerful tools UK businesses have to tackle the climate emergency. 

“But for too long, businesses have failed to capitalise on this opportunity – company pensions now finance a staggering 7 times more carbon than the emissions produced by those same businesses. For organisations to be acting credibly and decisively on climate, green pensions must be a crucial part of their plans.  

“We hope this report acts as an urgent wake-up call and puts company pensions – and the billions invested by them each year – at the heart of all organisations’ sustainability strategies. Doing so will not only help companies tackle climate change, but also send a powerful signal to the pensions industry that it’s time we all made our money matter in the historic fight for our planet and the people who live on it.

Maria Nazarova-Doyle, Head of Pension Investments at Scottish Widows commented:

“With over £2.7 trillion invested in pensions in the UK, we simply can’t overlook the significant impact our pensions have on the future success of a net-zero economy – and ultimately, on the livelihoods of people and the planet.

“As this report shows, whilst progress has been made, there is a huge amount of work yet to be done in helping employers ensure their employees’ savings are invested in sustainable ways. Many companies simply aren’t aware of how their pension schemes are undermining or even undoing the sustainability progress they are making across their operations.

“Today’s workforce expects its employers to take an active stance on social and environmental issues. With the help of providers, business leaders now have real opportunity to unleash the power of pensions as a force for positive change and ensure their employees’ retirement savings are channelled into sustainable portfolios. In doing so they will show staff that they are serious about investing their money responsibly.”

Deborah Meaden, Businesswoman of Dragon’s Den fame said:

“Climate change is the biggest existential threat we face, with businesses having a crucial role to play in tackling it. And one of the most powerful tools they have at their disposal is their money.

“By putting their pensions to work, and greening their company schemes, businesses can help address the climate crisis, and give themselves a competitive advantage while they’re at it.

“The reality is that the most glittering sustainability strategy can be seriously undermined by harmful pensions investments. So, with mounting concerns around greenwashing, it’s critical businesses put their money where their mouths are on climate change. Greening your pension is the perfect place to start”

 

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