Institutional investors with nearly US$7 trillion at their disposal are planning to double their renewable energy holdings over the next five years, to about $742.5 billion per year, driven by what The Guardian calls “deepening concerns over the fossil fuel industry’s climate plans”.
“The survey of more than 100 investors, representing $6.9 trillion of assets under management, found that 83% did not believe the plans put forward by oil and gas companies would be enough to meet the Paris climate agreement goals,” the paper reports. More than half of the respondents “said the oil industry’s record on investing in renewables was ‘more style than substance’ and represented ‘nothing more than greenwashing’,” according to Octopus Renewables, the specialist fund manager behind the survey.
Octopus co-head Alex Brierley said renewable energy “proved an incredibly attractive asset class in the face of this year’s volatility, buoyed both by growing external pressures to invest responsibly, and by investors looking for long-term sources of yield.” But he added that “divestment from fossil fuels also remains key,” in a year when investors slowed their divestment plans due to pandemic-related uncertainty.
The Guardian says the annual survey showed a significant drop in the financiers’ fossil divestment intentions. This year, they reduced their fossil holdings 4.5%, compared to the 5.7% they originally forecast, and the numbers become more stark over the longer term—they now expect to divest by 5.2% over the next five years and 8.6% over the next 10, compared to projections of 14.4 and 15.6% in last year’s responses.
Citing the same survey, Pensions Age says 92% of pension plans intend to increase their renewable investments over the next three to five years, with 76% acknowledging pressure from Millennials.
“As gatekeepers to trillions of dollars, institutional investors have a critical role in fighting climate change,” Brierley said. “But to move the dial, investors have been clear that issues such as lack of government coordination, liquidity issues, and energy price uncertainty are standing in their way.”