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Investors Failing to Halt New Fossil Fuel Production

Research published this week has highlighted limited decarbonisation progress from oil and gas companies, with investors lacking sufficiently robust policies to bring an end to new fossil fuel projects. The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) published its second Oil and Gas Benchmark, noting a “dangerous lack of progress towards global climate goals from the sector”, with overall scores across the benchmark declining by 0.2 points in the past two years. Over half of the assessed companies link executive remuneration to the growth of fossil fuels and only 18% have Scope 3 emission targets. The top scoring company was Neste, with a score of 56 out of 100. “The oil and gas sector will not make the investment in rapid decarbonisation and just transition without external pressure from key stakeholders,” said Vicky Sins, WBA’s Decarbonisation and Energy Transformation Lead. However, analysis of asset managers’ climate action has found that they don’t have robust policies to encourage portfolio companies to halt new fossil fuel production. It also found that asset managers continue to support fossil fuel production through their investments, including collectively spending US$3.5 billion on bonds issued by fossil fuel developers over the last 18 months. The research, published by Reclaim Finance, ReCommon, Sierra Club, The Sunrise Project and Urgewald, said the institutional clients of the assessed asset managers should demand they “urgently strengthen their policies”. A report by Make My Money Matter and sustainability research house Route2 highlighted that UK pension schemes have over £88 billion (US$111 billion) invested in the fossil fuel industry, despite their net zero commitments. Caroline Lucas, UK Green Party MP, said: “Fossil fuel companies are climate criminals – knowingly polluting our planet, reaping record profits for their own shareholders, and resiling from already feeble attempts at net zero targets. The pensions industry has the financial firepower to divest from these climate crimes, but instead it’s aiding and abetting them.”  



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