Today, UPP’s President and CEO, Barbara Zvan, delivered a compelling speech to the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit, detailing UPP’s net-zero commitments under our Climate Action Plan, and how these help us deliver long-term, sustainable value to our members across Ontario’s university sector.
Thank you, it’s a privilege to be here.
University Pension Plan launched in 2021 to deliver secure, sustainable pensions to the university employees of Ontario, which is Canada’s largest province.
As a pension plan, we have a fiduciary duty to our current and future members, so we must think long-term.
Climate change presents a systemic risk to the ecological, societal, and financial systems that the economy relies on, and therefore we rely upon – today and for generations to come.
That’s why within a year of our launch, we developed our Climate Action Plan as a foundational part of our investment strategy. We see our objectives as interrelated: our ability to achieve investment returns and provide retirement benefits depends on a stable climate; and in turn, our investments impact and affect the stability of the climate.
We committed to net-zero portfolio emissions by 2040 or sooner, with interim targets for 2025 and 2030, and an emphasis on decarbonizing the real economy.
We are assessing our investments on their emissions profiles, net-zero commitments, and their progress on transition plans, and we have already excluded companies involved in thermal coal from our portfolio.
We engage with companies we invest in, and with our external managers, to make sure our expectations are clear and hold them accountable.
We collaborate with investors who equally understand our responsibility to catalyze climate action.
Investors alone cannot stabilize the climate – but we are prepared and ready to invest in solutions that will.
To do so, we need clarity and confidence about the risks and opportunities associated with what we’re investing in. We cannot meet our commitments unless the companies we invest in meet theirs.
Investors have collectively demanded better data and disclosure standards, and taxonomies. These three pillars are the infrastructure necessary for companies to be able to establish credible transition plans.
And now we need policymakers and regulators to urgently implement clear, mandatory requirements for non-state actors, to develop, implement, and deliver on credible net-zero commitments, with interim targets.
Each one of us at this table has a responsibility to ensure the systems we rely on are healthy, resilient, and sustainable.
The United Nations has the platform to help to harmonize our actions and approaches across borders – so companies have a blueprint, and global investors have clarity and confidence.
Investors around the world have already demonstrated a willingness and ability to work with governments.
I urge governments to utilize these crucial investor insights to ensure we can all deliver on our collective commitments for a climate resilient, net-zero future.
Ms. Zvan was invited to speak alongside a small number of “early movers and doers” on net-zero –organizations and countries that have demonstrated leadership, ambition, credibility, and progress on their climate transition commitments.
In her address, Ms. Zvan encouraged companies and governments to act with urgency on their own climate transition pledges and progress, and to engage with investors like UPP to help ensure we are working together to ensure we achieve our collective net-zero future.
“Each one of us at this table has a responsibility to ensure the systems we rely on are healthy, resilient, and sustainable,” Ms. Zvan told the summit’s attendees.
“Investors alone cannot stabilize the climate – but we are prepared and ready to invest in the solutions that will. To do so, we need clarity and confidence about the risks and opportunities associated with what we’re investing in.”
“We need policymakers and regulators to urgently implement clear, mandatory requirements for non-state actors – to develop, implement, and deliver on credible net-zero commitments, with interim targets.”
Launched in 2021, University Pension Plan was founded with a clear mission: to provide secure and sustainable defined benefit pensions to Ontario’s university community – today and for generations to come.
In 2022, we published our Climate Action Plan, committing to net-zero portfolio emissions by 2040 or sooner, with interim targets. Our Climate Action Plan advances two interrelated objectives: to grow a strong, resilient fund that secures pension benefits for our members today and far into the future, and invest in a stable and healthy world for our members to retire into.
It outlines the steps we will take and tools we will use to achieve our commitments and manage climate-related investment risks and opportunities, including how we invest, and our engagement and advocacy with companies, external managers, policymakers, and regulators.
UPP will soon publish our Climate Transition Investment Framework, an essential foundation to our net-zero strategy that will enable us to systematically evaluate the transition alignment and readiness of our current portfolio and new investment opportunities, set targets for climate solution investments, and refine our approach to climate-related investment exclusions.
Managing Director, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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