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What's the full climate impact of your pension?

We’ve launched our Pensions League Table & Calculator to help organisations assess the emissions impact of pension investments.


The league table (below) ranks commonly held pension funds based on their carbon emissions per pound invested, and the calculator provides an overview of the potential emissions impact of different pension pots.


The Pensions League Table, based on publicly available data, reveals significant differences in emissions performance among the assessed pension funds.


Scottish Widow's Pensions Portfolio Four (Series 2) emerged as the best-performing fund in terms of scope 1,2 and 3 emissions, while the People's Pension Global Investments Funds performed worst, with 66% more emissions per pound invested. The league table provides a valuable tool for organisations to make informed decisions about their pension investments and consider the emissions impact as part of their overall sustainability strategy.



What does this mean for an SME?

Let’s take a small to medium sized business, with an overall pension fund pot for its employees (assuming no one has moved out of the fund or retired) might be £300,000 in total. Depending on where they choose to hold their default pension, their annual pension related emissions could be 225tCO2e or 135tCO2e. The choice of default pension can drive 90tCO2e per year more or less depending on that fundamental choice.


The size of the prize

With the rise of direct contribution pensions in the UK, where employees build their own pension pots, rather than direct benefit pensions that provide a set income, pension investments have a substantial impact on carbon emissions. The UK pension market is worth over $3 trillion and is the third largest in the world. Considering the emissions impact of pensions is critical for organizations aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their Net Zero goals.


Furthermore, there is a growing demand from employees for responsible pension investments. Two-thirds of employees believe it is important for their workplace pension fund to be invested responsibly, according to a survey by Aviva in 2022. ZeroBees' experience with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) suggests that this number is even higher, with many employees unaware of the climate impact of their workplace pensions.


Addressing the climate impacts of default workplace pensions can have a positive impact on staff retention and employer branding, while supporting organizations' Net Zero goals and claims. By using ZeroBees' Pensions League Table & Calculator, organisations can make informed decisions about their pension investments and take meaningful steps towards reducing their emissions.


So what?

Pensions are one of our most impactful activities as individuals and as businesses. By providing organisations with a comprehensive overview of pension fund emissions performance, we aim to empower them to make more sustainable investment decisions and contribute to the fight against climate change.


More information, and the calculator itself can be found here.


Organisations interested in learning more about comprehensive organisational carbon footprinting and the impacts of their default pension schemes can contact ZeroBees at toby@zerobees.com or book an introductory call here.


ZeroBees’ Pensions League Table & Calculator to Assess Emissions Impact


The full league table can be found here:

Fund provider

Fund name

tCO2e/£1m EVIC Scope 1 & 2 (direct only)

tCO2e/£1m EVIC Scope 1, 2 & 3

People's Pension (BC&E)

Global Investments (up to 100% shares) Fund***

67.4

​750.7


People's Pension (BC&E)

Global Investments (up to 85% shares) Fund**

67.8

​750.2


People's Pension (BC&E)

​Global Investments (up to 60% shares) Fund*

68.1

​749.6


Aviva Pensions

My Future Growth***

61.3

​733.2


Nest

2040 Retirement Date Fund*

62.4

​715.3


Aviva Pensions

My Future Focus Growth***

56.9

​691.5


People's Pension (BC&E)

Ethical Fund***

48.2

​664.6


Aegon

Balanced Plus Core Portfolio (ARC)***

46.3

​647.6


Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows Pension Portfolio Two Pension (Series 2)***

76.2

​615.1


Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows Pension Portfolio Three Pension (Series 2)**

67.4

​534.1


Smart Pensions

Smart Ethical & Climate Fund***

42.7

​482.7


Nest

Ethical Growth Fund**

44.4

​475.9


Smart Pensions

Smart Sustainable Growth (Series 1)***

31.1

​464.8


Aegon

Cautious Core Portfolio (ARC)**

32.8

463.3


Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows Pension Portfolio Four Pension (Series 2)**

53.4

451.1

Confidence scores based on underlying data available: * low confidence; ** medium confidence; *** high confidence


What are Scopes 1, 2 and 3 in the context of pensions?


Underlying fund assets’ Scope 1 and 2 include on the direct emissions from fuel burnt and GHG emitted at sites or by fleet, or through electricity production for power consumed in operations. For example – for a fund invested in Microsoft, Microsoft’s Scope 1 and 2 would be their office and data centre gas and electricity only


Scope 3 extends this to all upstream and downstream emissions related to the organisations or underlying assets and their activities which drive their value. Clearly this comprehensive value chain assessment is much larger. For example, Microsoft’s Scope 3 would also include purchases of data centre equipment, energy and materials in building new data centres, employee commute, purchased goods and services – i.e. including Scope 3 gives a much more appropriate understanding of the greenhouse gas emissions related to their success and valuation.



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