VoteClimate: Future of Pensions Policy - 8th December 2020

Future of Pensions Policy - 8th December 2020

Here are the climate-related sections of speeches by MPs during the Commons debate Future of Pensions Policy.

Full text: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-12-08/debates/BFF0C98B-1227-430B-8B19-5E7B185D2FDB/FutureOfPensionsPolicy

14:30 Rob Roberts (Other)

Finally, it would not be right to hold a debate that seeks to improve people’s future in retirement without considering how to ensure that the pension industry is becoming green and playing its part in protecting the environment. Given that pension funds—long-term investments—hold around $20 trillion in assets globally, they are an integral part of socially responsible investing and can play a major part in helping the UK to reach net zero. I commend, in his absence, my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Gareth Davies), whose campaign has led to the UK’s first green investment bond, which is on the horizon.

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15:23 Wendy Chamberlain (Liberal Democrat)

Secondly, this century poses new challenges of huge proportions. Those challenges of course include automation, an ageing population, with increasing life expectancy—I note the comments of the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) on that—and the climate emergency. I would not normally choose to quote Donald Rumsfeld, but when we consider the profound and unforeseen impact that a global pandemic has had on our society this year, we have to recognise that it is not just the identifiable factors that we need to be concerned about; it is also the “unknown unknowns”.

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15:30 Kirsten Oswald (SNP)

I want to address the biggest long-term challenge we face in future pensions policy. What will happen to pensions if we allow the assets on which they depend to be significantly devalued or rendered unusable by climate change? The SNP supports industry calls for firms to include climate change-related disclosures in their annual reports. It sounded as though the hon. Member for Southport (Damien Moore) might agree with that. We are committed to putting that on to a statutory basis.

The SNP also supports moves to introduce an easy-to-understand system of climate-friendly external audits so small investors can better understand the climate-related risks of investments, including the risks facing company pension schemes. It was hugely disappointing that the UK Government prevented occupational pension schemes from being required to develop a strategy for aligning investments with Paris agreement goals and net zero emissions targets. With COP26 coming to Glasgow next year, perhaps the Minister could share with members what advice the Department for Work and Pensions has received from the Committee on Climate Change on the role of pensions in tackling the climate challenge. If no advice has been received, will the Department ask for it?

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15:39 Seema Malhotra (Labour)

I return to climate change, which is a very important area for future pension policy. The investment decisions taken by pensions involve trillions of pounds—the kind of money that can catalyse significant change when used responsibly, from investing in infrastructure to green technologies. Labour’s amendment to the Pension Schemes Bill sought to ask pension funds to demonstrate how they are helping us get to net zero emissions. It is hard to see how the Government can achieve their own climate goals while excluding trillions of pounds of British capital from those efforts. By voting against our amendment, we believe the Government missed a chance to mobilise pension funds to protect the planet and support the drive to net zero. This is despite the fact that there is clear public support for such a move. The Government must use all the tools at their disposal to channel pension funds into investments that benefit people and the planet.

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15:49 Guy Opperman (Conservative)

I am deeply grateful to the House for the opportunity to address pension policy. There is no question but that these are serious issues. The Government are absolutely zeroed in on trying to make pension policy work. I totally dispute the claim that we are not doing anything on climate change. With COP26 coming up, we are leading the way. We are the first country to legislate for net zero and for the taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures. We lead the way on all matters, including green gilts. I believe very strongly that climate change and pensions will go hand in hand under this Prime Minister’s leadership. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Delyn for this debate.

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