7th April 2020 – Wespath Benefits and Investments , the largest single pool of faith-based pension assets in the world, has become the 22nd member of the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance.
The new member, with US$26 billion assets under management (AUM), brings the Alliance’s total AUM to over US$4.6 trillion. Wespath is the second US-based asset owner and second faith-based asset owner after the Church of England to join the Alliance.
The group of pension funds and insurers has pledged to decarbonize their portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050 to avoid a global temperature increase above the 1.5°C Paris target. This will not be attained through divestment, but rather the Alliance will work closely with portfolio companies to change their business models, adopting climate friendly practices and setting a net-zero target based on what science tells us is necessary in order to strive for a 1.5°C world.
CEO and General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain said: “As the steward for the largest single pool of faith-based pension assets in the world, Wespath has a long history of investing in ways that deliver strong investment returns and pursuing efforts to promote building a sustainable economy. As a prudent fiduciary to our pension participants and institutional investors, we endeavor to align investment activities with efforts to achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth.”
Wespath CIO Dave Zellner said “The Alliance and other similar investor coalitions are essential for influencing the change necessary to achieve a sustainable economy. Together, we can collectively influence the development of stable financial markets, resilient companies and a healthier world for all of us.”
Over the coming months, Alliance members will focus on developing the reporting guidelines and targets aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement required to establish a course for reaching the commitment in the stated timeline. The Alliance is actively recruiting other asset owners to make the net-zero commitment and to collaborate in developing these next steps.
Notes to Editors
Convened by UNEP’s Finance Initiative and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance is supported by WWF and is part of the Mission 2020 campaign, an initiative led by Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Launched in September at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, the Alliance was initiated by Allianz, Caisse des Dépôts (CDC), La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark, and Swiss Re, who were joined by Alecta, AMF, CalPERS, Nordea Life and Pension, Storebrand and Zurich as founding members.
In November, AXA, Aviva, CNP Assurances and Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR) joined. The Church of England’s investment bodies, Generali joined in January, followed by Munich Re in February, and ERAFP and KENFO in March.
Wespath is a non-profit agency of the United Methodist Church, Glenview, Illinois, with US$ 24.9 billion in assets as of 31 December 2019.