Choosing a ‘positive impact’ pension

Online pension provider PensionBee has calculated that UK pension savers could make a big dent in their carbon footprint if they moved £1 trillion to ‘positive impact’ funds.


hat figure represents the approximate value of UK defined contribution pension funds for around 28 million UK savers, which is currently mostly held in ‘default’ investment plans.

PensionBee claims that each saver who moves from a higher carbon intensity typical ‘default’ pension fund to a lower carbon intensity ‘positive impact’ fund would reduce their carbon impact by 1.7 tonnes.

The majority of defined contribution pensions are invested in ‘default’ funds, which (based on an industry benchmark) could be responsible for a carbon footprint of around 129 tonnes of carbon per £1 million invested.

The company claims that the same amount invested in a PensionBee Impact fund would have a carbon footprint equivalent to an estimated 81 tonnes of carbon emissions – some 48 tonnes fewer – a difference of 37%.

A spokesperson says that the majority of default workplace pension schemes remain invested in fossil fuels, with UK pension schemes investing an estimated £128 billion in coal, oil and gas. Although many are now aligned to Net Zero goals or follow responsible investment strategies, they do not usually go as far as positive impact investing in lowering the carbon intensity of underlying pension investments.

Becky O’Connor, of PensionBee, says, “Money makes the world go round and often the most money any of us will have to our names is in our pensions, so what we invest them in can be the most difference we can make to the world.

“In imagining what the impact on carbon emissions could be if the £1 trillion invested in UK defined contribution pensions was moved to positive impact funds rather than sitting in default schemes, it becomes clear how much difference pension savers can make.

“Not only can positive impact investments help the planet and society, they can also generate returns for investors, preserving the ultimate financial goal of a pension – to generate growth over the long term and help people provide for retirement.”

According to PensionBee research*, over half of savers would move their pension to a positive impact fund if they had the choice – equivalent to around 14 million Brits.

The company says it is possible for people with defined contribution pensions (as opposed to defined benefit) from previous employment, or with personal pensions, to move their pensions to other funds that better suit their values or retirement goals.

“There may be options to switch to more sustainable funds for workers who are actively paying into a current workplace pension, who would risk losing employer contributions if they moved to another provider.

It is strongly recommended that savers take independent financial advice before transferring pension funds.

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