Private equity firms rush to go green as investors dodge climate risks

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“Climate risk is investment risk,” the ESG lead at investment heavyweight BlackRock has said, as the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has outlined not only what countries need to do to hold back climate change, but what they are likely to achieve.

To meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, countries will need to retire unabated coal by 2035, phase out fossil fuel cars by 2040, shift to clean energy by 2045 and end deforestation by 2025, PRI’s latest Inevitable Policy Response (IPR) forecast report said.

More than half of private equity (PE) firms in the UK now adhere to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), the world’s most-recognised set of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, according to accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

Climbing from 49 per cent in 2020 to 55 per cent this year, the figures signal that the tides are turning out of favour for firms looking to ignore climate commitments.

BDO also revealed that over half of PE firms have angled their investment strategies towards ESG measures, as companies are increasingly having to prove to investors that they take ESG seriously.

While progress has been made, BDO urged there is room for improvement, as 34 per cent of PE firms are still yet to outline their own ESG commitments.

Global head of sustainability research at BNP Paribas AM, Alex Bernhardt said that to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keep global warming to 1.5C, firms need to step up their game.

“We’re not going to get to 1.5C without serious action: companies, investors and governments committed to achieving net zero by 2050 must accelerate their efforts now more than ever. That is the key message heading into COP26,” he said.

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