Record-breaking temperatures in the UK and Europe over the summer and extreme weather events globally should in theory have galvanised the governments and corporations attending COP27.
We are still far off track to limit global warming to 1.5°C, a goal that countries recommitted to at COP26. As the conference rolls around again, it has become clear that voluntary targets are not enough to drive the necessary systemic change.
And it is worth keeping in mind that climate change represents failings not only from policymakers but also companies – and the fund managers that back them.
It has been encouraging to see some concrete signs of progress in the UK property sector, with the government requiring EPCs of ‘E’ or above by next year for commercial landlords, rising to ‘C’ in 2027 and ‘B’ by 2030.
However, we also acknowledge that EPCs are fairly one-dimensional and only account for current emissions, rather than the carbon required to develop the building. More effective might be requiring environmental goals to be included in all companies’ articles of association, enshrining climate targets into governance.
To make tangible progress more broadly, there are some immediate and practical actions that asset managers can take to support investors in making informed, sustainably minded decisions without the risk of impact washing.
First, they must seek and publish independent verifications of their impact claims. Second, they must return to first principles and look at their governance structure – an intention to create a positive impact on society and the planet should be legally protected in articles of association.
As an asset manager, these are two powerful steps you can take to lock in lasting, positive real-world change through better investing. As an investor, these are two simple questions you can ask your asset manager today to help you get to the heart of their impact authenticity.
With markets focused on short-term political chaos, the inertia on climate change is insidiously leading to an all-embracing catastrophe.
After all, any investment is essentially wasted if we continue to destroy the planet.
Daniela Barone Soares, chief executive, and Laura Boyle, head of stakeholder engagement, Snowball