BBC scheme commits to net zero by 2050

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The trustees of the circa £19bn BBC Pension Trust have said they want the fund's investments to emit net zero greenhouse gases by 2050, without the use of carbon offsets.

The scheme's commitment has the same timeline as that of the government to make the UK net zero by 2050. 

"The Trustees recognise that climate change is a long-term risk for the fund and has the potential to impact the Scheme’s investments," the scheme told members. It added that the commitment is based on the expectation that governments and policymakers will deliver on their promise to achieve the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. 

The trustees said they do not plan to use carbon offsets at fund level to achieve their goal.

The scheme is a signatory to the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative Net Zero Asset Owner Commitment and member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, and trustee chair Catherine Claydon has signed the A4S Pension Fund Chair Net Zero Statement of Support.

Net zero commitments by pension funds have so far been led by local authority schemes and defined contribution providers. Private sector defined benefit schemes have yet to adopt similar targets en masse; research by campaign group Make My Money Matter found last October that 71 of 100 large pension funds had not made robust net zero commitments, with the majority of DB schemes lagging behind DC providers.   

However, some private sector DB schemes have indicated that they will become net zero. The £55bn BT Pension Scheme has a target date of 2035, and Tesco said its two main schemes will be net zero by 2050. The M&S Pension Scheme is planning to be net zero by 2040, aligning itself with its sponsor's net zero commitment. The government requiring firms to become net zero could in future prompt more DB schemes to follow their sponsor's lead.

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