Investors slowly start to push climate change up their agenda

LONDON/OSLO Investors are slowly starting to push companies to reduce their carbon footprint and help the world meet targets on limiting global warming that were agreed in the 2015 Paris climate talks.

Energy firms have faced shareholder demands to do more to curb carbon emissions, while some pension funds are demanding more commitment to climate goals from firms they invest in.

Yet progress has still been modest since the Paris deal agreed by almost 200 nations came into force in November last year, aiming to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

“Lots of investors are looking to align their investments with a 2 degrees world. It’s just at what pace they all get there,” said Fiona Reynolds, managing director at the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.

Advocates of the climate deal hope new impetus will come from Thursday’s document published by the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), a group set up by G20 nations.

The task force’s document outlines a voluntary framework for companies to disclose the financial impact of climate-related risks and opportunities, drawing support from more than 100 companies with $11 trillion of assets.

It aims to help investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders understand how firms manage climate risk and guide companies on information they should provide to explain their climate strategy, ultimately helping ensure corporate laggards are held to account.

“The more companies report effectively on climate related risks and opportunities, the easier it becomes for investors to allocate the substantial amounts of capital required to implement the Paris Agreement,” said Philippe Desfossés, chief executive of French pension fund ERAFP.

HIGH BENCHMARK

Sweden’s largest national pension fund AP7 set a high benchmark in June when it named six companies it said had breached the Paris accord, and ditched them from its portfolio.

Several energy firms have faced shareholder rebellions at annual general meetings over their stance on climate change. ExxonMobil (XON.N) has been accused of misleading investors by a U.S. prosecutor, allegations the U.S. firm has dismissed as “frivolous”.

Many energy firms have been sharing more information on their climate strategies, and some mining companies are starting to follow suit, such as iron ore miner Vale (VALE5.SA).

In a Reuters survey,…

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