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Promoting action to combat climate change

Climate change poses physical risks to our investments, and the scientific evidence shows that this risk is increasing. Moreover, the economic analysis of climate change is increasingly highlighting the heavy costs that society will pay from delayed action, as well as the relatively moderate costs of immediate action.

For investors to act on the scale required to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels – the internationally agreed target – governments must provide a long-term regulatory framework that incentivises lower carbon investments.

We are thus calling on governments to show leadership and implement robust action. In our view, the following three policy actions are vital to catalyse greater and faster investment in this area:

  1. Implement a carbon price or tax that reflects the real economic cost of emissions;
  2. Accelerate the phase-out of subsidies to fossil fuel consumption; and
  3. Set meaningful energy efficiency targets and emission requirements for buildings, industry and transport

Where are we now?

We are currently engaging with regulators to ensuring proper reporting on material climate risks, how they could impact the long-term delivery of value for shareholders, and how the stated long-term strategy ensures the business navigates these risks. This is a prerequisite for prudent and long-term capital stewardship, and crosses over with our work on audit and accounts.

Long-term stewardship

We have been leading the way, alongside likeminded investors, in engaging with both fossil fuel companies and those who are dependent on fossil fuels.

November 2018 - We urge G20 leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies

We, along with eight other investors, signed a joint statement urging G20 governments to set a concrete timeline to end all forms of government support to fossil fuels by no later than 2020. The statement also warns how continued government support for fossil fuels increases the risk of creating stranded assets within the energy sector and can also decrease the competitiveness of key industries, including low-carbon businesses.

Read the statement

August 2018 - Optimistic oil price forecasts 'over-value' majors' assets

Inspired by Natasha Landell-Mills' article, the Financial Times write about how the world's biggest oil companies are systematically over-valuing their assets.

View the article (subscription required)

August 2018 - Oil companies must come clean about their price estimates

Natasha Landell-Mills, Head of Stewardship, writes in the Financial Times on the issues raised by our latest paper on oil and gas companies' long-term oil price estimates.

Read the article

August 2018 - Are oil and gas companies overstating their position?

We believe that oil and gas company financial statements may be using overly optimistic price assumptions.

Read our paper

April 2018 - Keep fossil fuel companies inside climate change tent

Natasha Landell-Mills' article about selling extractive industry stocks was published in FTfm. Natasha asks for those concerned about the environment to engage actively to drive change rather than simply selling as a blunt instrument.

Read the article

December 2017 – A framework for pension fund action on climate change

The PLSA launched its guidance on ensuring climate risks are accounted for in pension investments. The paper highlights the pressure pension funds are under to respond to climate risk, and thus how the Sarasin Climate Active strategy could offer a solution.

Read the report

December 2017 – Climate Action 100+

In line with our Climate Active strategy, we have signed up to Climate Action 100+.This initiative brings together institutional investors from around the world to coordinate engagements with companies in support of the Paris Climate Agreement to hold temperature increases to “well below 2°C”. The five-year effort will target the largest listed corporate emitters, taking into account not only direct emissions from operations, but also emissions from the supply chain and product/service consumption.

Find out more

December 2017 – Shareholders should help deliver decarbonisation

Together with clients and members of our Climate Active Advisory Panel, we wrote a letter to the Financial Times calling for shareholders to use the levers they have to push for companies to respond to the climate challenge. While divestment has gained considerable traction in recent years, the letter argues that global decarbonisation demands that shareholders proactively engage in driving change.

Read the letter (subscription required)

December 2017 – Climate change and professional liability risks for auditors

ClientEarth has released a report on auditors’ duties to ensure material climate risks are reflected in companies annual reports. It outlines the implications of climate-related risks for auditors’ legal and professional duties and warns of increasing risks of shareholder pressure, regulatory intervention and legal liability if auditors fail to take these duties seriously.

Read the report

July 2017 – Shareholders should hold directors and auditors to account on climate risks

Climate risk is not a SRI or ethical issue alone – it is a threat to capital. In an article for the Financial Times, Head of Stewardship Natasha Landell-Mills calls for investors to vote against annual reports and auditors where disclosures are misleading.

Read the article (subscription required)

March 2017 – Position paper on climate risks reporting

The disconnect between existing company reporting rules and the lack of disclosure of climate risks needs to be urgently addressed. This Position Paper calls on all companies to assess and report their climate-related risks within their annual report to shareholders. This is not only a prerequisite for prudent and long-term capital stewardship; it is also a requirement for listed companies in most jurisdictions. It is time companies and their regulators ensured these rules were being properly implemented.

Read the paper

January 2017 – Climate Risk and the Law Breakfast Seminar

Head of Stewardship Natasha Landell-Mills sat on the panel at this event, discussing the crucial role that regulators and policy makers have in protecting the value of investment portfolios, and minimising climate liability risks.

Find out more

October 2016 – Letter to the FRC regarding ClientEarth's Soco and Cairn complaints

We recently wrote to the the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) lending our support to the formal legal complaints filed by ClientEarth against Soco International and Cairn Energy in August 2016.

Read the letter

August 2016 – ClientEarth reports Cairn and Soco to the Financial Reporting Council

Head of Stewardship, Natasha Landell-Mills, welcomed ClientEarth's recent complaints about failures to report climate risks at Soco International plc and Cairn Energy plc. This complaint builds on work that Sarasin & Partners have been undertaking with ClientEarth and other long-term investors to promote disclosure of material climate risk (see the position paper and letter to the FRC below). The Financial Times reports on the latest claims as the FRC begins to examine ClientEarth's suggestions.

Read the article (subscription required)

April 2016 – Investors vote for climate transparency

ClientEarth reports on the shareholder resolutions we co-filed at Glencore and Rio Tinto as part of the ‘Aiming for A’ investor coalition, requiring the Boards to report to shareholders how they are managing their climate risks. Both resolutions were overwhelmingly approved, meaning that the companies are legally obliged to implement them.

Read the article

April 2016 – Submission to the TCFD

We wrote to the Chairman of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) about our concerns with their report released on 1 April 2016.

Read the letter

January 2016 – Letter to the FRC on ensuring companies visibility statements address climate risks

We recently coordinated a letter to the UK accounting regulator, the FRC, asking that they consider providing guidance to ensure fossil fuel dependent companies disclose their assessments of climate risks as part of their “Viability statements” that are required from October 2015.

Read the letter

January 2016 – Letter to the International Accounting Standards Board about climate risk

We submitted a letter to the International Accounting Standards Board highlighting the need for research into how companies should assess and disclose any foreseeable losses / impairments / liabilities associated with new climate change regulations or the physical impacts of climate change.

Read the letter

December 2015 - Investors put pressure on coal miners following the Paris climate deal

The Financial Times reports on the resolutions we co-filed at Glencore and Rio Tinto, asking the boards to assess their exposure to climate-related risks and disclose this to shareholders, along with how these risks are being managed.

Read more (subscription required)

December 2015 – Sarasin & Partners sign the Paris Pledge for Action

We joined the Paris Pledge for Action, which is a public statement launched at the Paris Climate Change conference. It affirms our strong commitment to a safe and stable climate, in which temperature rise is limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Read the Pledge

November 2015 – Letter to EC President on auto emissions testing following VW scandal

As a member of the IIGCC, we contributed to a letter to President Juncker stating why we do not support a watering down of emissions requirements or testing procedures for the EU.

Read the letter