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Pension Savers Are Losing Faith in Corporate Net-Zero Pledges

Sixty-three per cent of pension savers see net-zero pledges as disingenuous and that they make little to no difference to the climate crisis.

In fact, 45 per cent of under 30s feel that net-zero pledges are merely corporate vanity projects with pledges lacking true environmental accountability.

Over a quarter of savers think that 2050 is too late for change; a feeling that was stronger amongst female respondents.

This is all according to a recently released analysis from the online pension provider, PensionBee.

Its ‘tailored plan’ survey took into consideration the views of 2,194 of its default plan users. The response confirmed that customers are prepared to put the planet over profits when it comes to investing their pension.

The survey uncovered a general but not majority desire for pragmatism, ownership and transparency from corporates when setting and achieving environmental targets.

Clare Reilly, PensionBee's chief engagement officer
Clare Reilly

“The message from pension savers is loud and clear,” said Clare Reilly, PensionBee’s chief engagement officer. “They want companies within their pension to show a clear and sustained commitment to becoming more environmentally conscious and to avoid ambiguous promises in 2022 and beyond.”

Thirty-three per cent believed that the lack of a standardised approach in this area led to little transparency from companies over the scope and boundary of the targets, in addition to the plans for reaching them.

However, only 18 per cent felt net-zero pledges still represent an important first step towards addressing climate change.

When asked for their reactions to investing in fossil fuel companies, just under half of pension savers shared that they only wanted these companies within their pension if they showed a concrete commitment to improving their impact on the environment.

A much smaller 15 per cent favoured removing the oil sector completely from their investments, whilst only seven per cent reported that they wanted to invest in fossil fuel companies to be able to vote at annual general meetings to effect change more quickly.

The need for good profits was identified by just over a quarter of savers, reporting they were happy for their pension to continue to be invested in the oil industry if profits were delivered.

Notably, this view was most visible amongst those aged 41 and above, supporting the idea that younger savers are more conscious about the environmental impact of their investments.

The overwhelming majority of respondents across all ages and genders considered deforestation, habitat and wildlife destruction to be of significant importance.

There was also a strong belief in the need to address ocean pollution and the indiscriminate use of plastic, animal testing on non-medical grounds and intensive farming.

These clear priorities from younger savers coincide with pensions minister, Guy Opperman’s warning for UK pensions schemes to do more to tackle deforestation as part of the government’s climate change policies.

“At PensionBee, we remain guided by our customers’ views to ensure we continue to provide products that are aligned with evolving public opinion in this space,” continues Reilly.

“These latest insights will be used to inform PensionBee’s engagement with BlackRock’s stewardship team, which manages the plan, where the priority will be a deforestation-free tailored plan.”

Continue reading: How can pension schemes align with ESG goals?


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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