The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is calling on the Alberta Investment Management Corp. to “quantify the climate risks of its investments and adopt a path to net zero.”
The AUPE’s call for action was one of three environmental resolutions for which the union’s membership voted in favour during its annual convention held earlier this month, according to a press release.
“Pensions are some of the most hard-fought gains that working people have ever won,” said James Sullivan, the AUPE’s environmental committee chair, in the release. “It’s up to us to make sure that those pensions are stable. Quantifying climate risk would help achieve that.”
In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, the AIMCo said it acknowledges that climate change is an urgent and compelling matter requiring immediate action from all players. “As Alberta’s investment manager, we recognize the business imperative of integrating climate change into our investment processes, to both enhance and protect our clients’ risk-adjusted investment returns over an extended time horizon.
“We believe that large-scale, long-term investors like AIMCo have an essential role to play in the coming energy transition. AIMCo has been measuring its carbon footprint since 2016, a process that has since advanced to include a portion of all major asset classes and is committed to engaging with our clients to determine a climate action plan and go-forward strategy that most closely aligns with their objectives.”
The statement also pointed to the AIMCo’s recent responsible investing report, in which the government-owned pension investment manager outlined plans to address a range of environmental, social and governance issues, from integrating climate risk to building a more diverse workforce to advancing its risk governance. “We strive to adopt best-in-class ESG-integration strategies across asset classes and investment processes to better identify our ongoing assessment of risk and value,” read the statement.
Additionally, the AIMCo said it’s consulting with its pension fund clients, including the Alberta Public Service Pension Plan and the Local Authorities Pension Plan to arrive at a climate action plan and go-forward strategy. Plan members of the Alberta PSPP and the LAPP are members of the AUPE.
“LAPP Corporation has an ongoing, almost daily dialogue with AIMCo on responsible investing, with climate change and environmental risk factors high on the list of investment considerations,” said Chris Brown, president and chief executive officer of the LAPP Corp., in an emailed statement to Benefits Canada. “While AIMCo works continuously to update and integrate its oversight of ESG factors, our corporation and our sponsor board are refining our policies and processes as well, to ensure we are providing direction to AIMCo that reflects the expectations of our sponsors.”
The AUPE has a seat on the LAPP’s sponsor board, which has identified climate change as a “primary risk” in the plan’s long-term funding policy, said Brown. For its part, the LAPP Corp.’s board of directors is currently working to develop the terms of an updated responsible investment policy for the LAPP’s funds, which will review best practices around climate risk measures and carbon capture metrics.
“AIMCo has announced it will consider viable options to decrease the portfolio’s emissions trajectory over time,” said Brown. “After consulting with its clients, it expects to update its plan regarding implementation of climate-related targets early next year.”
Other resolutions adopted by the union include a just transition toward net zero for workers and a proposal for a green, new deal that includes providing union jobs through an expanded public sector; modernizing public infrastructure to adapt to climate change; recognizing Indigenous rights and treaties; and building a society that is ecologically sustainable and socially fair.
The AUPE’s vote comes on the heels of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow last month, where world leaders came together to map out a coordinated response to the global climate crisis.