Willis Towers Watson: UK pension schemes target full integration of climate risk by 2026

16 June 2021

Pension schemes unanimously expect to have fully integrated climate risk into their decisions by 2026, according to new figures collected by Willis Towers Watson.

This follows a poll of conference participants, held during Willis Towers Watson’s recent Climate Summit and collating the views of 70 separate UK-based pension schemes.*

Half believe in an even faster timeline of less than a year. With 19% already doing so, 6% expecting to within six months and a considerable 25% expect that it will take between six and 12 months to integrate climate into their major business decisions.

Considering the mechanism and strategy for incorporating climate risk over time, timelines also vary for implementing a ‘carbon journey plan’.

One-in-six pension schemes (17%) have already put in place such a plan, with the majority (57%) of UK pension scheme representatives currently considering how to reduce climate risk using a carbon journey plan. Only a quarter (26%) have yet to begin creating such a strategy.

Asked how they plan to meet the governance challenge of climate risk management, nearly half (44%) of the schemes questioned felt that no single solution would be adequate, but a range of measures would be needed to fully tackle the issue. These include: greater delegation to sub-committees; greater delegation to external parties; and increased frequency and length of trustee meetings.

Considering market pricing and whether today’s asset prices reflect climate risks to the underlying assets involved, an overwhelming 96% responded that climate risk is only somewhat, or not at all, reflected in current market valuations.

Reflecting the scale of this information gap in understanding climate risks, the most common factor cited by pension scheme representatives as a challenge to their ability to assess and manage climate risks was a lack of data (43%). Trustees’ own knowledge was the second most common challenge (24%), followed by tools (13%), resources (9%) and expectations (8%).

Source: Willis Towers Watson
Multiple reports with cicle diagram and text

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