Majority of pension savers view net-zero pledges as disingenuous and ineffective

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of pension savers see net-zero carbon emission pledges as disingenuous and feel they will make little difference to the climate crisis, research from PensionBee has revealed.

The provider’s study also found that almost half (45 per cent) of savers under the age of 30 felt that net-zero commitments were merely corporate PR.

More than a quarter (25 per cent) of savers believed that 2050 was too late for change and that the pledges lacked accountability. Women were more likely to hold this opinion, with 33 per cent believing it compared to 23 per cent of men.

PensionBee stated that its annual Tailored Plan survey, which aims to understand its default plan’s customers’ evolving investment views, found a “desire for pragmatism and ownership” in corporate target setting.

More than a third (37 per cent) of respondents felt that the lack of a standardised approach in this area led to little transparency from companies over the scope and boundary of the targets, as well as to the plans for reaching them.

However, 18 per cent of those surveyed believed that net-zero pledges still represented an ‘important first step’ towards addressing climate change.

When asked for their reactions to investing in fossil fuel companies, 49 per cent of savers said that they only wanted these companies within their pension if they showed a solid commitment to improving their impact on the environment.

Meanwhile, 15 per cent favoured removing the oil sector completely from their investments, while a 7 per cent stated that they wanted to invest in fossil fuel companies only to be able to vote at their annual general meetings to effect change more quickly.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of savers said they would be happy for their pension to continue to be invested in the oil industry if profits were delivered, with this opinion most commonly held by those aged 41 and above.

PensionBee noted that an “overwhelming majority” of respondents across all ages and genders considered deforestation, habitat and wildlife destruction to be of ‘significant importance’, while a ‘strong belief’ in the need to address ocean pollution, the high usage of plastics, animal testing on non-medical grounds and intensive farming was identified.

“The message from pension savers is loud and clear - 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,” commented PensionBee chief engagement officer, Clare Reilly.

“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. 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.”

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