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Sweden threatens carbon-reporting law if pension funds fail to act

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The Swedish government has told the country’s commercial pensions and investment sector it must find a common way to report carbon footprints or it will force them to do so with legislation.

Per Bolund, minister for financial markets and consumer affairs and Green Party member, yesterday met with 20 pension and investment funds and insurers including Alecta, AMF, Folksam and its subsidiary KPA Pension to discuss the issue.

He said: “There is a strong commitment in the industry and a will to contribute to sustainable investment which I am happy about.”

The companies agreed there should be a industry standard for reporting the carbon dioxide emissions their shareholdings were responsible for to increase the comparability for consumers.

“I was very clear yesterday self-regulation is the best alternative,” Bolund said. “Of course, we are no strangers to legislation, but that is a last resort.”

The meeting took place to focus on the issue ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris from 30 November, which Bolund is to attend.

Other pensions, investment and insurance providers present at yesterday’s meeting included SEB Investment Management, Storebrand/SPP, Svensk Försäkring, Länsförsäkringar and Skandia Fonder. 

Exactly when such last-resort legislation might be introduced depend on, among other things, the suggestions made around June or July 2016 by the investment funds commission (Fondutredningen), Bolund said.

“One of the things the commission will look at,” he said, “is how information given to customers can be improved to facilitate comparisons about sustainability.”

Meanwhile, Alecta, which manages SEK710bn (€76.6bn) in assets, has said its carbon footprint was one of the lowest so far reported.

Using analysis company South Pole, Alecta said it measured the carbon footprint of its equities portfolio, with the greenhouse gas emissions of a shareholding calculated according to Alecta’s stake in that company.

On 1 January 2015, its portfolio was responsible for 1.2kg of CO2 emissions per SEK100 invested, compared with the range of 1kg-2kg for other Swedish asset managers, it said.

Alecta said there were still big differences in the way asset managers calculated and presented the carbon footprints of their portfolios.

Skandia said it started disclosing the indirect effect of its equity funds by measuring their carbon emissions, also using South Pole.

Annelie Enquist, chief executive of the fund management company, said: “We want to allow fund investors to start forming an idea about the indirect climate impact of their savings by highlighting the carbon footprint of equity funds.” 

Skandia said it signed the UN’s Montreal Carbon Pledge, which committed it to measuring and reporting such data annually.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s national pension buffer funds agreed on a uniform method for reporting the carbon footprints of their portfolios based on three factors.

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