Pensions Are Our Hidden Superpower To Tackle the Climate Crisis. Here’s Why (and What To Do)

What’s the point in collecting a pension in a world on fire?

J.R. Flaherty
Published in
2 min readNov 17, 2021


Photo by Shazaf Zafar on Unsplash

We know planning for retirement, and for climate change, happens over decades.

Both are long-term investments. But do you know whether your salary is unwittingly funding companies destroying the planet?

It’s not always so easy to find out.

Cancer doctor Dr. Bronwyn King discovered her pension invested in tobacco companies. In her TED Talk, she found her pension had killed more people than she’d been saving with her life’s work as a doctor.

“What’s the point in collecting a pension in a world on fire?” — Richard Curtis, Make My Money Matter

With more than $50tn invested in pensions worldwide, pensions are the key for global citizens to make companies invest in planet-friendly solutions.

This year, it is riskier than ever to invest in the future of fossil fuel companies. With the 2030 targets, you hear fossil fuel energy companies described by the banking industry as potential “stranded assets.”

While citizens are also putting pressure on their pension funds for faster change.

How to move your pension funds away from carbon emitters

  • Consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when investing
  • Exclude or divest in those companies with large carbon offsets, or
  • Engage with companies that contribute to carbon emissions to change behavior
  • Some green pension fund apps will give you access to vote on ESG issues — helping pension fund members to have a say on key environmental issues at the companies they invest in.

A new generation of pension fund investors

Longer-term change is possible.

Investing in sustainable pension funds is not only about doing a good thing for the environment in the future. The returns from sustainable pensions increasingly have better returns than old-style ones.

Hey, retirement in the 2050s may not be so bleak, after all.



J.R. Flaherty

I'm a full-time writer + peaceful rebel. How you can buy me a coffee