Net Zero Endowments

Net Zero Portfolios are an effective and powerful way for investors to reduce risks associated with climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.  They also accelerate corporate climate action to reduce systemic risk for all investors and to protect current and future generations from climate impacts. 

A commitment to Net Zero means committing to transition the investment portfolio to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, taking into account the best available scientific knowledge including the findings of the IPCC, and regularly reporting on progress, including establishing intermediate targets every five years in line with Paris Agreement Article 4.9. 

Social equity is central to the need to address the climate crisis.  Marginalized communities, disproportionately Communities of Color, are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts.  To ensure an equitable and just transition, climate solutions must be viewed from a holistic perspective to ensure all communities are protected and have opportunities to benefit from the wealth generated in creating a new economy.   

IEN convenes and supports endowments in learning about Net Zero Portfolios, making commitments, and participating in shareholder engagement efforts to get portfolio companies onto decarbonization pathways aligned with the 1.5 degree C warming target of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

If you or your organization would like to learn more or participate in this initiative, please contact Georges Dyer at [email protected] 

 

Net Zero Endowments Steering Committee

  • Madeline Clark, Associate Investment Director, Sustainable & Impact Investing, Cambridge Associates
  • Grace Eddy, Director, Generation Foundation
  • Dave Fanger, US Business Leader, Responsible Investment, Mercer
  • Sheldon Gen, Investment Committee Chair, San Francisco State University Foundation
  • Tracy Gray, Trustee, CSU Dominguez Hills Foundation
  • Kelly Green, Financial Advisor, Institutional Consultant, Graystone Consulting
  • Meredith Heimburger & Pedro Henriques da Silva, Principal, Global Endowment Management (GEM)
  • Carol Jeppesen, Head of US, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  • Henry Lancaster, Director, HBCU Green Fund; and Trustee, Lincoln University (PA)
  • Tamara Larsen, Head of Mission Aligned Investing, Agility / Perella Weinberg Partners, and IC member, David Rockefeller Fund
  • Yale Loh, Treasurer, University of British Columbia
  • Jeff Mindlin, CIO, Arizona State University
  • Kate Murtagh, Managing Director, Sustainable Investing and Chief Compliance Officer, Harvard Management Company
  • Rachel Robascotti, Founder & CEO, Adasina Social Capital
  • Daren Smith, CIO, University of Toronto Asset Management (UTAM)
  • Andrew Tubman, Managing Director; Director, Endowments and Foundations Strategy, Wellington Management Company LLP
  • Ariane de Vienne, Managing Director, Global Head of Asset Owner Strategy, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)
  • Lindsey White, Director, Investor Network, Ceres

Net Zero Groups and Initiatives

 

Net Zero Commitments by Endowments: 

 

Sampling of IEN's Net Zero Endowment activities: 

  • The Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance | NZ Asset Owners Alliance, Zurich Insurance (October 2020) 

  • Introductory roundtable conversation on Harvard’s Net Zero Commitment with endowments totaling over $95 billion in assets (held under Chatham House Rule, no recording available) (July 2020)

 

Net Zero Resources 

 

Investors committing to net zero are proactively positioning their portfolios for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy.  As the cost of clean alternatives to fossil fuels declines and consumers increasingly recognize the need to shift, carbon-intensive companies risk losing value, and fossil fuel companies that are not leading a just transition risk stranding assets.  Further, research from the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) on the Inevitable Policy Response forecasts that governments will implement a climate-policy response by 2025 that will be “forceful, abrupt, and disorderly because of the delay.” 

The September 2020 report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commissions (CFTC) titled Managing Climate Risks to the US Financial System underscored the risks associated with climate change to the financial system, the economy, and investors.  Its top recommendation was for Congress to establish a price on carbon. It also found that:

“the financial system can itself be a catalyst for investments that accelerate economic resilience and the transition to a net-zero emissions economy. Financial innovations, in the form of new financial products, services, and technologies, can help the U.S. economy better manage climate risk and help channel more capital into technologies essential for the transition.” 

Endowments and other asset owners have a critical role to play by proactively pursuing net-zero portfolio -- to protect their capital, reduce systemic risk, and minimize the damage and suffering of climate impacts.  

 

 

This initiative is generously supported by

 

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