Statement from the United Nations-Convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance on the coronavirus pandemic

27 March 2020

We are not putting climate action on pause

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world with full force. We are facing a global crisis that no-one could have imagined – one that is foremost a health crisis but with wide-reaching implications for the global economy and environment. Bringing climate action to a halt could be one of them.

As a priority, governments must protect the most vulnerable and save lives. Members of the United Nations-Convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance too are protecting their customers, businesses, employees and the portfolios they manage. These are of course the most urgent tasks. But we are not pausing action on the other major crisis also affecting our economies and our communities: We are keeping our focus firmly on climate action.

We continue to look for low- or carbon-neutral investments and for those where we see that carbon neutrality is being convincingly worked on. In our engagement activities, we understand that portfolio companies currently have other priorities than to discuss CO2 reduction. However, we will soon resume these discussions.

Other activities in the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance continue unabated. We are working on measurement, reporting and target-setting. We are in close contact with policymakers and supranational organizations. In order to protect societies, several measures have been taken by governments around the globe, such as liquidity programs and the introduction of stability mechanisms. We encourage governments and companies to link this financial support to sustainability.

If we can see any hopeful perspective in the coronavirus crisis then it is that it brings rapid developments as part of the actions taken. We see now that societies can act decisively when it really matters. Companies can, for instance, reduce business travel and adjust to flexible remote-working policies, thereby even increasing efficiency. We observe consensus to take drastic actions in order to protect the most vulnerable in the community. Societies can flatten the coronavirus curve in unison. Let’s take this as learning for the carbon emissions curve too.

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