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Roughly seven in 10 (73 per cent) Ontario Pension Board plan members believe environmental, social and governance factors should play a critical role in the plan’s investment considerations, according to a new survey included in the investment organization’s inaugural ESG report.

The survey, which polled roughly 10,000 plan members, found nearly two-fifths (39 per cent) of respondents said environmental protection is one of their top investment considerations, as well as climate change (38 per cent), human rights (34 per cent) and business ethics (26 per cent).

Read: Clear, consistent guidelines required for integrating sustainability in investment decisions in Canada: report

While more than a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said investment returns should be the plan’s primary focus, two-fifths (40 per cent) said the OPB should avoid thermal coal assets and 34 per cent said it shouldn’t invest in gambling operations. Plan members also said the OPB should avoid participating in fossil fuel extraction or refining (32 per cent), palm oil (28 per cent) and factory farming (26 per cent) investments. Notably, slightly more than half of respondents think they’re well informed about ESG investments.

“Climate change is a systemic risk that has the potential to impact the global economy, markets and society as a whole,” said Mark Fuller, president and chief executive officer at the OPB, and Geri Markvoort, chair of the board, in a joint statement in the report. “However, it also positions us to realize the financial opportunities that will be created as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy.”

Read: OPB appointing Darwin Bozek as president, chief pension officer