Royal Mail, Co-op and Marks & Spencer pension schemes target net zero

Royal Mail, Co-op and Marks & Spencer (M&S) have this week pledged to halve the emissions of their pension scheme portfolios by 2030, and to deliver net zero across these investments by no later than 2050.

Royal Mail and the Co-op announced their pension scheme pledges today, following the 2040 net zero commitment from the M&S pension scheme yesterday during the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association’s (PLSA) investment conference in Edinburgh. Together, the three companies’ represent more than £30bn in pension assets.

Head of the M&S pension trust Simon Lee said it “firmly believes investing responsibly supports this duty, reducing risk and protecting the scheme over the long term”.

“With over 100,000 members, the M&S pension scheme must provide security to its members and their beneficiaries for many years to come,” he said. “We have been making progress for a number of years, but as the climate emergency escalates, we all need to do more. The trustee has decided an ambitious 2040 net-zero target because it can and should strive to achieve better outcomes for everyone. “

Earlier this week, the PLSA found that 74 per cent of schemes have net zero ambitions in place, or will have done so in the next two years.

Royal Mail Pension Plan chief executive Richard Law-Deeks said it was “determined to follow a credible and robust pathway to net-zero emissions by 250, aligned with our fiduciary duty to protect the pension of our members.”

“However, we recognise that this is going to be a challenging journey,” he added. “Like many asset owners around the world, achieving our ambition is highly dependent on the actions of others and we are committed to engaging constructively on this topic across the diverse range of asset classes in which we invest.”

Yet despite the latest flurry of net zero pension commitments, more than £1.5trn of UK pension savers’ investments still remain in schemes that have no such targets in place, according to Make My Money Matter (MMMM), the green pensions campaign.

MMMM co-founder Richard Curtis therefore urged other UK pension schemes to follow the lead of M&S, Co-op and Royal Mail. “Over the past year, we have woken savers up to the power of their pension and seen more than £1.2tr committed to tackling the climate crisis,” he said. “Older schemes may face additional challenges in reaching net zero, but that does not mean they cannot do it. M&S, Royal Mail and Co-op are showing the rest of the sector that it can be done. We are calling on the remaining schemes to follow in their footsteps so that no pension holder is forced to invest in the very industries that will destroy our future.”

A version of this article originally appeared at Professional Pensions.

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