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Exclusive: Investor group to pressure utilities on net zero emissions deadline

Exclusive: Investor group to pressure utilities on net zero emissions deadline
Exclusive: Investor group to pressure utilities on net zero emissions deadline   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  
By Reuters

<div> <p>By Jessica DiNapoli</p> <p><span class="caps">NEW</span> <span class="caps">YORK</span> – A coalition of investors with more than $60 trillion in assets under management is preparing to call on electric utility companies globally to move up their timeline by as much as 15 years to bring their net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.</p> <p>Utilities account for about 40% of emissions worldwide, more than any other sector. Many of them have committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a target that scientists say must be met to avert global warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.</p> <p>Net zero refers to reaching a balance between the greenhouse gases put in to the atmosphere and those taken out.</p> <p>The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (<span class="caps">IIGCC</span>) in London, part of the Climate Action 100+ initiative, told Reuters on Tuesday that emissions from electricity generation need to reach net zero well before 2050, so that other industries that rely on power can follow suit.</p> <p>In a report to be published on Wednesday, the <span class="caps">IIGCC</span> will call on utilities in developed economies to reach net zero emissions by 2035 and in developing countries by 2040. It will ask them to outline a detailed strategy to get there.</p> <p>“It’s quite urgent they decarbonize,” <span class="caps">IIGCC</span>’s chief executive, Stephanie Pfeifer, said in an interview. “We really need to know how they are going to implement the vision over the long term.”</p> <p>Pressure is building on companies and governments to do more to tackle climate change ahead of the COP26 United Nations conference https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/cop26-glasgow-who-is-going-who-is-not-2021-10-15 in Glasgow, Scotland, later this month. </p> <p>Companies that do not respond to the <span class="caps">IIGCC</span>’s outreach could face shareholder resolutions and votes against corporate directors, according to the report. </p> <p>The outreach has already begun by individual <span class="caps">IIGCC</span> members. Wespath Benefits and Investments, with roughly $29 billion in assets under management, has been urging <span class="caps">WEC</span> Energy Group Inc to move up its net zero deadline to 2035, said Jake Barnett, director of sustainable investment stewardship at the Glenview, Illinois, faith-based investment firm.</p> <p>Milwaukee-based <span class="caps">WEC</span> has already said it plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030. </p> <p>“We have set some of the most aggressive near term emissions goals in the utility industry,” said Brendan Conway, <span class="caps">WEC</span>’s media relations manager. “We will continue to support achievable goals that keep our customers and communities safe.”</p> <p>Barnett said Wespath will continue to engage with <span class="caps">WEC</span> on the 2035 net zero target. </p> <p/> </div>