LONDON (REUTERS) - A group of 30 asset managers with more than US$9 trillion (S$12 trillion) under management launched the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative on Friday (Dec 11) to help clients ensure their portfolios are carbon neutral by 2050.
The group, which includes Schroders and UBS Asset Management, said it would prioritise securing real reductions in emissions at the companies in which they invest, and work with clients over their decarbonisation goals.
They also pledged to set interim targets for the proportion of assets managed in line with the Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels.
"We cannot solve big problems such as climate change and the rapid decline of biodiversity on our own. But what we can do is set a clear example for the broader industry, work together and encourage other financial institutions such as asset managers to follow suit," said Robeco chief executive Gilbert Van Hassel.
The interim targets would be reviewed at least every five years and gradually ratcheted up until all assets managed by the group are aligned with the net-zero goal, the group said.
"The real test will be how quickly signatories translate ambition into action by escalating their engagement with companies," said Mr Peter Uhlenbruch, head of investor standards at ShareAction, which campaigns for responsible investment.
The launch of the initiative comes ahead of the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement and as policymakers look towards the next round of global climate talks in Scotland in 2021, at which countries aim to agree on tougher targets.
"The Net Zero Asset Managers initiative represents a significant moment on the road to addressing the climate crisis," said Mr David Blood, senior partner at Generation Investment Management.
"The transition to net zero will be the biggest transformation in economic history and we want to send a clear signal that there is simply no more time to waste," he said.
Among others to sign up are AXA Investment Managers, DWS, Calvert Research and Management, M&G, BMO Global Asset Management and Sarasin & Partners.
Ms Lucie Pinson, founder and director of Reclaim Finance, said she was sceptical about the new initiative.
"Without question what we do need is a truckload more ambition from investors. Will this group deliver that? It seems unlikely given that there is no collective commitment to exclude coal or to halt the expansion of oil and gas."