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Church Commissioners call on Europe’s largest companies to reveal their net-zero figures

20 November 2020

PA

Extinction Rebellion and other climate activists demonstrate outside of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy building, in the Hague, Netherlands. The group is demanding the release of the so-called Shell Papers

Extinction Rebellion and other climate activists demonstrate outside of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy building, in the Hague,

THE Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board have joined a coalition of investors who are pressuring Europe’s 36 largest companies to state in their accounts the costs of working towards net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris agreement.

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), which comprises 38 investors, including the Commissioners and the Pensions Board, wrote to the companies on Monday. They include BP, Shell, and Volkswagen.

The letter asks the companies to ensure that “material climate risks associated with the transition on to a 2050 net zero pathway are fully incorporated into the financial statements”.

It continues: “Not only is it important that boards ensure consistency between their narrative disclosures on climate risks and their financial statements (i.e. it would not be consistent to emphasise climate risks in the strategic report but not consider these same risks in the accounts), but prudent capital allocation depends on ‘Paris-aligned’ accounts.

“By providing vital information on performance and capital for an entity, the accounts are key to how capital is deployed by management as well as investors. If the accounts leave out material climate risks, too much capital will go towards activities that put shareholder capital at risk. Worse still, this puts all our futures at risk.”

The CEO of the IIGCC, Stephanie Pfeifer, said: “Companies can no longer afford to ignore what climate change means for their business. Investors need financial impacts of getting on to a net zero pathway to be booked and acted on.

“Climate change is material, and the importance of alignment with the Paris agreement is beyond doubt. What investors now need is visibility from companies in their accounts. They are making this clear today, and expect companies to report in line with existing global accounting standards.”

The C of E’s investing bodies announced in January that they would invest only in companies that were working towards net zero emissions by 2050 (News, 24 January).

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