TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which manages the pensions of 20 million Canadians, is investing billions of dollars in fossil fuel companies, exposing it to significant climate-related risks, research by two universities said on Thursday.
The study was done by Canada Climate Law Initiative (CCLI), a project of the University of British Columbia and Toronto’s York University.
The research acknowledged the progress made by Canada’s biggest pension fund, including the doubling of its renewable energy holdings, but found the board’s continued fossil fuel investments revealed a “troubling incrementalism.”
Six of CPPIB’s 15 private transactions in the past six years were in fossil fuels, and an earlier analysis found the fund has invested in 79 of the world’s top 200 public oil, gas and coal companies.
The energy sector has “the strongest of motives to adapt, have the access to capital to do so and the technology knowhow to innovate,” CPPIB spokesman Michel Leduc said. “The idea, through divestment, of starving them of capital, would… likely be harmful or counterproductive.”
The report says globally, climate risk is recognized as a material enterprise risk, impacting supply chains, future cash flows and disrupting business models across industries. CPPIB’s public and private investments raise questions about its ability to cope with sudden or unexpected changes in consumer and investor preferences or in government policy.
CCLI called for the fund, which had C$434 billion in funds under management as of end June, to set “transparent and aggressive” targets for a carbon-neutral portfolio.
Fossil fuel producers and services made up 2.8% of CPPIB’s investments as of March 31, from 4.6% two years earlier. CPPIB CEO Mark Machin told Reuters in May the fund is comfortable with its energy exposure.
($1 = 1.3159 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Additional reporting by Jeff Lewis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)