Leading investor groups call for natural gas to be excluded from the UK’s ‘green taxonomy’
- CEOs of IIGCC, PRI and UKSIF publish open letter to the UK Prime Minister outlining case against including natural gas in the UK’s taxonomy
- Signatories emphasise the need for a credible, science-based taxonomy that is fully aligned with the UK’s ambitious net zero strategy
- Gas may be necessary as a ‘bridge’ during the transition, but it should not be labelled as ‘green’
The CEOs of three leading institutional investor-focused organisations – the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), PRI and UKSIF – have published an open letter (available here) to the UK government, expressing strong opposition to the possible inclusion of natural gas activities in the UK’s ‘green taxonomy.’
The letter comes in response to recent media reports that the UK Government is actively considering this step. IIGGC, PRI and UKSIF together believe this action would undermine the credibility of the UK’s taxonomy for many investors, while significantly damaging the UK’s leadership position on sustainable finance for years to come.
The signatories also argue that short-term considerations on energy security must not be conflated with the taxonomy and that any inclusion of gas risks sending ‘misleading signals to investors’ at a time when they need greater clarity.
Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO, IIGCC, said: “The fundamental objection to natural gas being included in the taxonomy is that it is not green. The taxonomy is meant to be a science-based tool to define ‘green activities’ and thereby provide clarity to investors over which of their investments – both current and prospective – can be considered green. There may be a legitimate role for natural gas as a ‘bridge’ during the energy transition, but this should not be interpreted as gas equating to green.”
David Atkin, CEO at the Principles for Responsible Investment, said: “Ambition is necessary to global efforts to tackle the most damaging effects of climate change. The UK government has an opportunity here to demonstrate world-leading ambition on climate by ensuring that its taxonomy does not encompass natural gas activities. Our global approach to climate change must be rooted in realism and as such we should recognise that natural gas may have a role to play in facilitating the transition in the long term. However, ultimately, the UK’s taxonomy can and should aim to demonstrate maximum alignment with a science-based transition, which is inherently inconsistent with the inclusion of natural gas activities within the taxonomy.”
James Alexander, CEO, UKSIF, said: “We continue to have very serious concerns on the prospect that the UK government will shortly determine that natural gas is to be included in the UK’s ‘green taxonomy.’ As we argue in our recent report, Delivering a Net-Zero Financial Centre, the inclusion of gas would significantly damage the UK’s leadership position on sustainability for years to come. There is a huge economic and leadership opportunity for the UK should it choose to follow the path of a taxonomy based purely on science, and we urge the government to reflect deeply on this.”
Will Martindale, Co-Head of Sustainability at Cardano Group and Co-lead of IIGCC’s Policy Steering Group: “To align their portfolios with net zero, investors urgently need clarity on which economic activities are compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is therefore crucial that the UK Government excludes gas from the taxonomy’s scope and upholds its original purpose as a science-based tool to inform investment decisions and reorientate capital in line with the transition.”
Olga Hancock, Deputy Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners and Chair of the UKSIF Policy Committee: “The addition of natural gas into the UK’s green taxonomy is concerning. We believe the UK has the opportunity to learn from the lessons of the EU taxonomy, ensuring the UK’s green taxonomy is science aligned and best in class.”
Notes to Editors:
DISCLAIMER: This letter was developed in collaboration with a number of IIGCC, PRI and UKSIF members, but does not necessarily represent the views of the entire membership, either individually or collectively.
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) is the European membership body for investor collaboration on climate change and the voice of investors taking action for a prosperous, low carbon future. IIGCC has more than 375 members, mainly pension funds and asset managers, across 23 countries, with over €51 trillion in assets under management.
IIGCC works to support and help define the public policies, investment practices and corporate behaviours that address the long-term risks and opportunities associated with climate change. For more information visit www.iigcc.org and @iigccnews.
The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment. Supported by the United Nations, it works to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The PRI acts in the long-term interests of its signatories, of the financial markets and economies in which they operate and ultimately of the environment and society as a whole. Launched in New York in 2006, the PRI has grown to more than 4,900 signatories, managing over US$121 trillion.
UKSIF is the membership organisation for those in financial services committed to the growth of sustainable and responsible finance in the UK. We look to promote a more sustainable and inclusive financial system that works for the benefit of society, the environment, and us all.
We represent a diverse range of financial services firms committed to these aims, and our 290+ members include investment managers, pension funds, banks, financial advisers, research providers, NGOs, among others, representing over £10trn in assets under management (AUM).
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Oscar Warwick Thompson, Head of Policy and Communications:
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Ross Gillam, Head of Media Relations:
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