Summary of our research
A small to medium sized business with an overall pension fund pot of £300,000 could have annual pension related emissions of 140t CO2e or 230 tCO2e depending on their choice of default pension. That's from 84 to 140 return transatlantic flights.
Pensions have a huge impact per pound invested, which accrues year on year
Not all pensions are equal, and while ESG labels often correlate with lower overall emissions, there is still a significant difference
Of our sample, Scottish Widows’ Pensions Portfolio Four (Series 2) performed best in terms of full scope emissions, and the People’s Pension Global Investments Funds performed worst, with 66% more emissions per pound invested.
Considering pensions-related emissions in your organisation’s Net Zero plan is critical – for many organisations it can be a substantial part of your overall impact.
If you want to read more about our research and methodology, visit the downloads section below.
Why is it important and what can I do?
Pensions are one of our most impactful activities as individuals and as businesses.
Employees want pensions aligned to their values and with limited emissions [Aviva, 2022].
Assess your options with your provider or broker to move your default pension scheme to a lower emitting pension – or encourage or educate your employees if your employer’s scheme requires employees to switch within the plan (e.g. Nest).
ZeroBees can help you better understand the carbon footprint of your pensions, banks, organisational and value chain emissions.
We can support your organisation through a comprehensive organisational carbon assessment (including pensions and banking exposures) and get you on the road to Net Zero.
Book a call today with one of our carbon experts
The problem with pensions
There’s between £2.5 and £3 trillion in UK pension schemes [ONS, 2022].
This money is owned by all of us, and is invested to build our savings for the future. These investments are often contradicting our values, on climate as well as other environmental and social aspects. Analysis by Mercer shows that many defined contribution (DC) schemes are failing to include meaningful allocations to ESG investments in their default strategy [Mercer, 2022], with only 38% of DC schemes analysed including an ESG fund in their default strategy And even here, ESG is not systematically assessed, transparent or comprehensive, and “sustainable” schemes are often less ethical than they claim [e.g. FT, 2021].
The most measurable element of investments today, after their financial value, should be their carbon impact. But there’s currently no clear tracking or indication of what the carbon impact is of our pensions through their funds to give a steer of what our money is doing.
We think a carbon figure against pension options could help people choose more wisely. We want to help people make better choices. We want businesses to provide better pension options – and understand the level of reduced impact that these have.
To date, only a one assessment of pensions carbon impacts have been done in the public sphere – using a top down methodology in the UK, by Make My Money Matter in 2021 in partnership with Aviva [Make My Money Matter, 2021]. But this study doesn’t expose the underlying impacts of individual pension funds, or help us make choices between pensions.
So we’ve created this calculator above to enable you to look at the carbon impact of your pension – whether as an SME or as an individual with a workplace pension.
1. My pension isn’t on the list?
Let us know – we started with the most common pensions – and those who have a reasonable level of information available about the fund available publicly, but we’ll keep on adding to the list!
2. I’m a pension fund manager and don’t agree with the emissions you’ve calculated.
Get in touch – we’re more than happy to explain how we’ve got the numbers we have, and work with you to make it more accurate if you can provide us with more accurate underlying information on the assets under management.
3. What are Scope 1, 2 and 3 when it comes to pensions?
Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions that entities you invest in produce through operations and Scope 2 emissions are the indirect emissions caused by the purchase of energy by these entities. Scope 1&2 emissions are within an organisation’s operational control. Scope 3 emissions refer to all emissions outside of an organization’s operational control, including upstream and downstream emissions and use of sold products.
4. How have you calculated the emissions?
We have calculated the emissions based on publicly available information provided by the pension provider, particularly data on named holdings alongside the sector allocation of the fund. We also refer to geographical weightings and other provided information where available to create our emissions.
Want to read more about our pensions methodology or the work behind this calculator? Download here