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United Nations Staff Pension Fund Sets 2050 Net Zero Target

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The £61.5bn United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) has outlined a range of climate targets it will look to meet as it transitions its investment portfolio to net zero emissions by 2050.


In a statement late last week, the 130,000-member scheme said it was planning “to be more ambitious than the current net zero targets” with its timeline.


The fund has laid down its intention to reduce the absolute greenhouse gas footprint of its equities and corporate bonds portfolios by 29 per cent this year, and is targeting a 40 per cent greenhouse gas emission reduction on 2019 levels by 2025.


The UNJSPF said both divestment and engagement will play a part in achieving the transition, with short-term portfolio-level reductions achieved predominantly through divestment.


UNJSPF representative of the secretary-general for investments, Pedro Guazo, said the scheme believed it “should serve as an inspiration for the industry” in its role as a member of the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance – all members of which are committed to transitioning investment portfolios to net zero emissions by 2050.


“Climate change is a critical challenge we need to address,” Guazo said. “With this ambitious commitment, we want to accelerate the transitioning of our investments towards a 1.5°C scenario.”


Tony Burdon, chief executive of the Make My Money Matter campaign, said the move was welcome as the UN had a critical role to play in global efforts to transition to a net zero carbon world.


“This announcement shows they recognise the power of our pensions in driving that transition,” he added. “We hope that their move will pressure other schemes across the globe to follow suit and wake up to the gravity of the climate crisis.”


With the COP26 Climate Summit less than six months away, Burdon said the ethical pensions campaign wanted to see “pension schemes across the globe follow the UNJSPF’s lead”.


“The pensions schemes of other multilateral institutions, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and others need to step up and commit too,” he said.


“To slow the pace of climate change, our finance sector must change rapidly if we want to retire into an inhabitable planet.”


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