Time for pensions to contribute towards building a better world: New landmark report from the United Nations on the state of climate science.

As we have been witnessing in recent years and months, climate changes are occurring in every region and globally. A new landmark report from the United Nations on the state of climate science has highlighted modern society’s continued dependence on fossil fuels, which is warming the world at a pace that is unprecedented in the past 2,000 years. Its effects are already apparent as record droughts, wildfires and floods devastate communities worldwide.

Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. The UK became the world’s first major economy to set a target of being net zero by 2050.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published on 9 August emphasises there is still time to act, but it must happen immediately. Limiting climate change demands strong and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities such as burning fossil fuels.

One of the main areas where change can make a significant difference to all of our futures is how and where our pension money is invested. But the facts are, if money is invested in a standard, default pension, it could be doing more harm than good.


Your pension is more than just a retirement fund, it can also contribute towards building a better world. However, one in four pension scheme members have never even heard of net zero, while three in ten can’t explain or understand the connection with their pension pots and climate change.

According to new research[1], almost nine in ten Defined Contribution (DC) scheme members were not aware of the importance of having their pension scheme aligned with a net zero goal. But, encouragingly, members were overwhelmingly in favour of their pensions moving towards net zero when the term was explained.


The survey also uncovered that one in four (25%) have never heard of the term ‘net zero’ and a further three in ten (31%) have heard of it but could not say what it means. In fact, 70% of DC members prefer remaining invested and using their collective power to engage with companies to align their businesses with global climate change efforts, or prepare them to thrive in a low-carbon economy.

Two-thirds (64%) of all members have become more concerned about the impact of human actions on the planet following the COVID-19 crisis. Rather than deprioritising environmental issues in favour of immediate concerns, the pandemic has thrust them into sharper focus as members explicitly linked them with their current situation.


Millennials are the strongest supporters of engagement, with 79% of them supporting providers’ stewardship activities. Their attitude also helps to explain their change of heart towards outright divestment. While still the most radical cohort of the three generations on this issue, half of Millennial members would consider divesting if it had no performance impact, while only two in five of them would divest no matter what.

Baby Boomers are twice as likely as Millennials to want to keep pensions as diversified as possible, even if that meant investing in fossil fuels, but the proportion has dropped from 30% to 25% over the past 18 months. The research also shows that more than a fifth of ‘Boomers’ (22%) are now happy to divest into a greener pension regardless of performance. This follows increased coverage of climate in the mainstream media and real concern about the impact of climate change on their children and grandchildren.


Millennial men are the most likely to want a net zero pension irrespective of the impact on financial performance. The proportion who feel this way (40%) is double that of the group showing the least interest, female Baby Boomers (20%).

As Baby Boomers move steadily into their retirement years, the balance of power will shift as Gen X starts to hold the largest share of pension assets. Younger views will be an important factor in shaping the direction of travel over the next ten years. This new cohort can no longer be assumed to be simply chasing maximum financial returns regardless of the impact on the planet.


Humanity has its work cut out to create solutions to the many complex problems of the 21st century. We help you assess the risks – and opportunities – posed by companies’ and countries’ performance in critical areas, such as climate change, executive remuneration, and diversity and inclusion. Please speak to us for further information – we look forward to hearing from you.

Who are Vizion Wealth?

Our approach to financial planning is simple, our clients are our number one priority and we ensure all our advice, strategies and services are tailored to the specific individual to best meet their longer term financial goals and aspirations. We understand that everyone is unique. We understand that wealth means different things to different people and each client will require a different strategy to build wealth, use and enjoy it during their lifetimes and to protect it for family and loved ones in the future.

All of us at Vizion Wealth are committed to our client’s financial success and would like to have an opportunity to review your individual wealth goals. To find out more, get in touch with us – we very much look forward to hearing from you.

The information contained in this article is intended solely for information purposes only and does not constitute advice.  While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on this article has been obtained from reliable sources, Vizion Wealth is not responsible for any errors or omissions. In no event will Vizion Wealth be liable to the reader or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information provided in this article.

Posted by Andrew Flowers

Andrew is the managing partner of Vizion Wealth and has been involved in the offshore and onshore financial services industry for over 18 years. Andrew was the driving force behind Vizion Wealth after years of experience in a number of advisory roles within high profile wealth management, private banking and independent financial advisory firms in the UK.

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