Sixty-two per cent of savers would prefer their savings, including their pensions, invested in assets that take climate change impacts into account, according to new research by ClientEarth.
However the poll, conducted by YouGov on behalf of ClientEarth, found that three out of five people are not aware that the financial institutions they are customers of, could be investing in projects such as coal mines, oil wells and gas fields.
Despite this, fifty per cent would consider moving their bank or pension investments if they realised their money was being used for fossil fuel investments. The preference for climate-aware investment is even more marked among 18 to 34 year olds (66 per cent), who have the longest investment future ahead of them.
Financial institutions, particularly pension funds, have been in the spotlight this year. A parliamentary select committee recently quizzed the UK’s largest funds on their exposure to and management of climate risk – and this month ClientEarth reminded pension professionals of their legal duties to address it.
Commenting on the findings, ClientEarth climate lawyer Danielle Lawson said: “The signal to the financial world could not be clearer: it must raise its game. A large number of consumers want the financial institutions managing their personal finances – be it everyday bank accounts or workplace pensions – to avoid funding fossil fuel companies that contribute to climate chaos.
“Most people questioned were not aware of the link between their pension and continued investment in fossil fuel and what this could mean for their future. Financial institutions, including pension funds, should be more transparent and engage with individuals so that they can make informed choices about how their money is used – as the DWP recommended pension schemes do earlier this year.
“This is particularly important for younger people with defined contribution and contract-based pension schemes who will not draw their pensions for several decades and bear the financial risk of their scheme’s continued support for fossil fuels in the meantime. The fact that less than a fifth of the public trust fossil fuel companies to change their business models and transition to supplying low-carbon energy, shows that there is likely to be a demand for pension and retail investment options which exclude fossil fuels.”