New analysis from leading online pension provider, PensionBee, reveals an increase in the number of pension savers who would like to see the oil sector completely excluded from their pension investments, from 15% in 2022 to 21% in 2023.
PensionBee’s annual Tailored Plan survey, which seeks to understand the views of customers in its default plan, uncovered a growing desire to avoid investing in companies with business activities that negatively impact the environment.
Yet, despite the fossil fuel sector coming top of the list of areas to consider for exclusion, for the second consecutive year, the vast majority (79%) of customers don’t feel ready to exclude fossil fuel companies from their pension completely (1). However, almost half (43%) of customers who want to continue investing in fossil fuel companies only wish to do so if these companies show a concrete commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible (net zero) and improving their environmental impact.
On voting and influencing big companies to do less harm to the planet, customers’ top priorities were investee companies reducing their carbon emissions, rather than buying offsets to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions and halting habitat and wildlife destruction. Tying executive pay and bonuses to climate action and reduction targets also proved to be an important topic for customers.
A small minority (13%) expressed an interest in active shareholding, intending to invest in fossil fuel companies only so they are able to vote at their Annual General Meetings and effect change more quickly.
When asked which social and governance issues they valued the most, overall, customers’ views were consistent across all ages and genders on the importance of respecting human rights, particularly focusing on the poor treatment of the workforce in core business operations and human rights abuses in the supply chain. In general, customers expected the big companies they invest in to pay wages that represent the true cost of living (the Living Wage) and demanded transparency to tackle tax avoidance and exploitative labour practices (2).
Becky O’Connor, Director (VP) Public Affairs at PensionBee, commented: “Pensions are investments. Through them, trillions of pounds are invested in companies that can improve or harm the planet and society through their business activities and collectively, that is our money, which will be used to fund our retirements.
At PensionBee we believe that companies that focus on their contribution to society and the planet have a better long-term chance of being financially sustainable and will bring stronger returns. We are guided by our customers’ views to ensure we continue to provide products that are aligned with evolving public opinion in this space.”
Table 1: Future of the oil industry: should your pension continue to invest in these companies?
|% of respondents
|Yes, but only in companies committed to net zero and improving their impact on the environment
|Yes, if they make good profits and then leave this topic to the government and regulators
|No, remove all fossil fuel companies
|Yes, but only invest in them to be able to vote at their AGMs and drive positive change more quickly
Source: PensionBee, April 2023. Based on a total number of 1,036 respondents.
- Your views shape the future of the Tailored Plan, PensionBee
- Living Wage Foundation