Climate emergency declaration

Friends Provident Foundation recognises that business as usual risks climate breakdown with profound consequences for people and planet. We view the prevention of runaway climate change as an eco-socio-economic challenge and prerequisite to achieving our objective of a sustainable and fair economy.

The scientific evidence is clear that without rapid and far-reaching changes in energy, land use, transport, buildings, industry, and the economic system itself, we face man-made climate catastrophe and a new extinction event.

We believe it is the responsibility of every institution, business, investor and employer to transition their purpose and operations to be consistent with keeping global heating below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels – the level considered ‘safe’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states “global net human-caused emissions of CO2 would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.”

At the current rate, global heating will likely rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052. How we act and the decisions we take in the next decade are crucial. A state of climate emergency is the appropriate societal response.

The rapid transition to a net-zero emission pathway must also be a just and fair transition and go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.

We therefore commit to deploy our resources and use our influence to help accelerate the transition, ensure our investments have a positive climate impact, and make changes to minimise the climate impact of our operations.

Our commitments

Investments

We will not invest in companies involved in the following areas:

  • Extraction, production and distribution of fossil fuels, and similarly high carbon fuels
  • Unsustainable harvest of natural resources, e.g. deforestation
  • Intensive farming methods that degrade the environment, e.g. palm oil

We will use our influence as a shareholder to:

  • Promote a just and net-zero carbon transition, calling for the adoption of business models that are consistent with keeping global heating below 1.5°C and ensure economic shocks to workers, communities and consumers are mitigated.
  • Promote responsible corporate lobbying, calling for disclosure of direct and indirect public policy intervention, and to align lobbying (including via intermediaries such as trade associations) with company social and environmental commitments.

We will particularly favour investments in:

  • Providers of renewable energy generation and storage, energy efficiency and demand management services, and other companies whose business model focus is on net-zero carbon transition, resource efficiency and circular economy, and environmental sustainability.

We will use our influence with asset managers and the market to:

  • Ensure active and high standards of shareholder engagement on climate change, with expectations of forceful stewardship. We expect them to vote for all climate change related shareholder resolutions (taking a comply or explain approach), and to have an engagement escalation policy, e.g. they will vote against Director re-elections or file shareholder resolutions.
  • Encourage social and environmental impact reporting, including the climate impact of our investments (positive or negative), and to undertake a climate risk assessment of the funds we invest in.

Grants

  • We provide grants to support a range of new thinking and practical projects with the objective of a fair and sustainable economy. We commit a strand of this work to ‘fair transition’ to address the risk of “stranded people” and “stranded communities” in terms of skills and economic utility. This includes as a result of the rapid and far reaching changes needed across the economy to address climate breakdown, and those already happening such as the transition from large centralised energy generation from fossil fuels to distributed renewable energy. A fair transition is a necessity for a rapid and resilient net-zero transition.
  • We will encourage our grant holders to develop their own responses to the climate emergency and will provide means through which they can exchange ideas and good practice with us and each other.

Operations

  • We will engage our property manager at Blake House in York to switch to a renewable energy tariff and to improve building energy efficiency as well as engage other tenants in an on-going dialogue in how we might collectively improve our practices.
  • We will review our travel policy to support sustainable travel and consider positive incentives for reduced and sustainable travel in staff holiday policy.
  • We will be flexible in our working practices to help staff reduce the carbon impact of commuting
  • We will reduce our catering carbon footprint by transitioning to meat-free catering, reviewing the use of palm oil in Foundation purchased food and challenging our caterers to report on carbon and food waste management when developing menus.
  • We will build considerations of environmental impact into our procurement processes
  • We will ensure that staff and contractors (e.g. freelance assessors) are supported to develop appropriate levels of ‘climate literacy’.
  • We will report annually on our progress against these commitments as part of our annual report.