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French public sector scheme Ircantec adopts coal-exclusion policy

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French public sector pension scheme Ircantec has adopted a coal-exclusion policy, which will affect around 1% of the fund’s total portfolio.

Exclusions will be made on the basis of three criteria. 

The €9.2bn scheme will exclude mining companies that account for more than 1% of global coal production, based on turnover.

It is also turning its back on energy producers whose energy mix is more than 30% derived from coal or that have a carbon intensity in excess of 500g of CO2.

Lastly, any company whose turnover is more than 20% linked to coal will be excluded.

Announcing the policy on 4 October at an event in Paris, Jean-Pierre Costes, president of the board of directors at Ircantec, said these criteria would lead to exclusions equivalent to around 1% of the scheme’s portfolio (€92m). 

Costes framed the coal-exclusion policy in terms of stranded assets, saying the scheme was “not ruling out significantly reducing its investments in ‘stranded assets’, notably in the fossil fuel sector”.

The board of trustees last week decided to take such a step with respect to thermal coal, he added.

The move has been facilitated by the work Ircantec has done to measure the carbon footprint of its investments, according to Costes.

He said companies whose businesses were linked to coal that were not captured by Ircantec’s new exclusion policy would be closely monitored.

Considerations about coal should be integrated into all monitoring “levers”, said Costes, in particular shareholder voting and engagement carried out by asset managers on behalf of Ircantec.

This activity should be aimed at providing assurance about companies’ efforts to reduce their exposure to carbon. 

The new exclusion policy is in line with the energy transition roadmap that Ircantec outlined earlier this year, said Costes.

He also announced that Ircantec this week launched a request for proposal for asset managers to run a standalone green bond fund, as per plans unveiled earlier this year

Decree threat

Ircantec, whose €9.2bn of assets are reserves, recently increased its exposure to corporate debt at the expense of euro-denominated sovereign debt, but its fiduciary manager recently told IPE the scheme’s diversification strategy could be scuppered if the Social Affairs Ministry follows through with plans for a controversial decree unveiled earlier this summer.  

Ircantec has therefore asked to be exempt from the regulation.

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