Danish labour-market pension fund Sampension said it will increase engagement with companies it invests in in 2022, especially concerning climate issues – ramping up its expectations of firms, including around the lowering of their climate footprints.

The firm announced today that it had recently concluded long-running dialogues with two companies – one Irish and one US – over climate behaviour, with both cases having resulted in “noticeable climate progress”.

Jacob Ehlerth Jørgensen, the new head of ESG at Sampension, said: “In the new year, we will increase the expectations we as investors have of companies.”

This applied, he said, in relation to the companies working to lower their climate footprints, for example, adding that this had to contribute to Sampension realising its own goal of reducing the CO2 footprint of its overall investment portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement, and towards climate neutrality by 2050.

“We also expect the dialogues to generally move from some more general issues – such as proper anchoring of sustainability responsibility in the organisation or publication of climate footprints – to a more real ‘target-setting’,” said Ehlerth Jørgensen, who took on the ESG chief role in December after several years as chief legal officer within Sampension’s investment department.

Sampension said it had now concluded dialogues with Ireland’s James Hardie Industries, a global building materials business, and US energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan, which has operations in oil and gas pipelines and terminals.

Ehlerth Jørgensen said the dialogues with the two companies were good examples of why it could pay to engage with firms rather than sell off or exclude them, adding that most companies had become more willing to enter into discussion with investors about their social responsibility.

“However, one should not expect the dialogue path to make progress overnight,” he said, with Sampension reporting it had begun talks with James Hardie Industries in 2017 and Kinder Morgan in 2019, and that both firms had now improved their climate strategies.

A spokesman for Sampension told IPE the pension provider currently had around DKK35m (€4.7m) invested in Kinder Morgan, and was not now invested in James Hardie industries – although it had been at the time it started talking to the latter.

“As a main principle we continue already-initiated engagements even following divestments, based on a general commitment to improve the investable universe that we operate in,” he said.

Sampension said it currently has approximately DKK340bn under management.

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