”Buying organic coffee is good, but don’t forget about your pensions”
The Swedish pension company SPP has cut out fossil fuels from its investments. SPP is now aiming to become even more transparent in its climate work — and by using the Climate Dialogue service, the company has found an easy way to do so.
Pension funds are often neglected in discussions on climate impact. An odd fact, considering that in Sweden alone, companies are investing almost 60 million dollars a day in occupational pensions for their employees. But too much of that money is still going into the fossil fuel industry or other unsustainable business.
”It’s great to order organic coffee for the lunchroom, but we shouldn’t forget about the potential impact of sustainably invested pensions”, says Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf, head of sustainability at SPP.
Last year SPP, a part of the Storebrand group, made all their funds fossil-free, and just recently the company launched ”Your climate footprint”, a tool for corporate clients to help measure the total carbon footprint of the occupational pension fund assets for all employees. Dow Jones Sustainability Index now ranks Storebrand/SPP as one of the world’s ten percent most sustainable listed companies in the world.
”We see a big financial risk in remaining in the fossil industry. There are companies who claim that by keeping their fossil investments they can influence from within, but we are still contributing to change through international collaborations and by driving public opinion. We want to be a company that leads the progress”, Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf says.
Within a company like SPP, discussions on sustainability issues is an everyday matter. But SPP also wants to be as open as possible for external input, and that is how the partnership with We Don’t Have Time started.
”When there is a platform that attracts climate-conscious people the way We Don’t Have Time does, it is important for us to be there”, says Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf.
SPP became open for dialogue at the platform during this spring, and the employees became even more familiar with the Climate Dialogue service during Sustainable Tomorrow, a Swedish event co-organized by We Don’t Have Time on September 16. A few weeks later SPP utilized its partnership with We Don’t Have Time to organize a digital climate seminar for its employees.
The seminar started with We don't Have Time’s CEO and founder Ingmar Rentzhog giving advice and bringing the latest updates on global climate action. Then the staff members were divided into smaller groups to come up with ideas on how to increase climate engagement both internally and externally. The groups were then encouraged to post their ideas on SPP:s Climate Dialogue page.
”The event was very much appreciated among our staff, and the level of engagement was beyond our expectations”, says Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf.
Explaining why a two-degree global warming is a problem can be difficult, especially in a country like Sweden, where most people long for warmer days almost all-year long. But when Ingmar Rentzhog proposed that it could be described as a fever, Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf liked it so much that she immediately posted in on the Climate Dialogue page.
”Everyone can relate to what happens if your temperature rises from 37 to 39 degrees Celcius. And if it goes up to 40 , or even 41, then you are in serious trouble. It’s a great analogy”, she says.
Getting the climate discussion going with its clients is one of SPP:s main sustainability priorities at the moment. For the sake of the planet, yes, but also for the sake of the wallet.
”We want to increase awareness regarding the financial risks related to carbon-intense investments, and the opportunities and potential gains of investing in line with the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Agenda.”
SPP is already climate neutral in its own business by carbon offsetting, but is also dedicated to decreasing its own carbon emission by 7,6 per cent annually, in line with the Paris agreement. The company is also overlooking its value chain emissions and enforcing stricter climate regulations for its suppliers.
”If there is anyone out there who has ideas on how we can improve further, please write to us”, says Johanna Lundgren Gestlöf.