Europe

2050 Net-zero Investment Ambition Announced by Robeco

ESG specialist also announces launch of bespoke fixed income climate strategies.

Dutch asset management firm Robeco has announced its ambition to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all of its assets under management by 2050. The firm said the pledge is a “logical next step”, which follows a series of related actions including the extension of its fossil fuel exclusion to all funds, the launch of investment strategies contributing to a net-zero target, and an update in September to its climate change policy.

“We cannot solve big problems such as climate change and the rapid decline of biodiversity on our own,” said Gilbert Van Hassel, Chief Executive Officer of Robeco. “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. We have set this ambition with the conviction that investing is not only about creating wealth but also about contributing to well-being.”

Robeco also announced the launch in December of bespoke fixed income climate strategies, which will invest in the bonds of companies and governments on a path to meet Paris Agreement goals in their operations by 2050.

“We acknowledge the responsibility of the investment industry towards climate change risks through the investment decisions that we make and the active dialogue we have with investee companies and other institutions. With this net-zero ambition we aim to contribute to a low-carbon economy,” said Victor Verberk, Chief Investment Officer for Fixed Income and Sustainability at Robeco.

The firm, which has €158 billion in assets under management (including €138 billion in ESG integration strategies), will develop a roadmap and set interim targets in line with global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The targets will include the reduction of portfolio emissions, but also investment in climate solutions such as green bonds, and engagement with investee companies.

In its statement, Robeco said it would focus “more heavily on engagement”, particularly with laggards. Robeco’s five 2021 engagement themes involve one focused on high-carbon companies that are falling behind in their transition to lower-carbon business models and another on the climate commitments of the financial sector, including banks and insurers.

Although a number of asset managers have set ambitions for their own emissions reduction targets, few if any have made a commitment to net-zero emissions across their investment portfolios by 2050. In October, global financial services group JPMorgan Chase said it would adopt a financing commitment aligned to the Paris Agreement and would establish intermediate emissions targets for 2030 next year.

Also, in October, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), launched a framework and validation service to help financial institutions to decarbonise through use of science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Thirty of the world’s largest asset owners, with combined assets of US$5 trillion, recently placed pressure on their asset managers with the release of a 2025 emissions reduction protocol, which set a framework for reducing the emissions from the portfolios over the next five years, on the path to net-zero emissions in 2050.

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