Revealed - how UK pensions can unlock immense climate action

An estimated 18 million UK savers want their pension scheme to encourage companies to reduce their carbon emissions this AGM season

Make My Money Matter, a climate finance campaign founded by filmmaker and activist Richard Curtis, today launches flagship research into the power of UK pension schemes alongside Tulipshare, a new activist investor platform that empowers retail investors to invest to promote ethical change.

Research reveals that a substantial number of UK pension holders want their scheme to adopt climate positive policies with their asset manager to make companies do better on protecting our planet. An estimated 18 million savers* want their pension fund to encourage the companies they have invested in to reduce their carbon emissions. Schemes can do this by setting climate-positive voting policies and engaging with their fund managers on how they vote this AGM season.

Over half (51%) of the pension holders involved in the research want their scheme to adopt voting policies to encourage their portfolio companies to act in a way that reflects their values. In addition, over one quarter (28%) surveyed would actually contribute more to their pension if they knew that it had climate friendly policies already in place.

Climate is one of the key points of engagement for savers, many of whom would act if they discovered that their scheme was not exercising its power by setting good environmental voting policies which advocate for reduced carbon emissions at global companies. One quarter (24%) of pension holders surveyed say they would even switch pension schemes if they found that it had not introduced good climate voting policies. In fact, around one in ten would reduce their monthly contributions if they discovered this to be the case.

However, it is not just climate that engages savers. Across the board, the pension holders questioned want to have more say over their money. When asked what sort of initiatives they would like their scheme to support areas such as worker’s rights, diversity and wage policies - like curbing excessive pay for CEOs and providing a living wage - scored highly.

While pension holders clearly want action from their schemes, poor understanding and transparency around pension investments remain a problem for everyday savers. Less than half of pension holders questioned (48%) are aware that their money is actually invested in companies worldwide and less than 40% are aware that their pension scheme can exercise its power this AGM season.

Over the past 18 months, over 40 pension schemes representing over £1 trillion in assets under management have made robust net zero commitments. Make My Money Matter is calling on the UK pensions industry to back up these climate commitments by making sure that fund managers vote in line with members’ values on key resolutions this AGM season, including those at ExxonMobil, JP Morgan and Amazon.

Make My Money Matter and Tulipshare want the UK pensions industry to use its voice this AGM (Annual General Meeting) season, to drive meaningful emission reductions at the companies within scheme portfolios.

Commenting on the research, Richard Curtis, Co-Founder at Make My Money Matter said:

“Everyone knows about the power of the ballot box – but our democratic muscle doesn’t stop there. There’s £2.7 trillion in UK pensions - and that money belongs to us. By telling those managing our money that we expect them to be noisy custodians of the planet that we will retire into, we can open the boardroom to millions of new voices for change, and make our money matter.

This AGM season, it’s time to activate the power of our pensions. Our money funds huge and powerful companies – so let’s put it to work, changing their policies and changing the world.”

Antoine Argouges, Founder and CEO at Tulipshare, said:

“This year, climate resolutions top an unprecedented number of shareholder proposals - institutions and retail shareholders alike should be aware of the power of their vote in the upcoming proxy seasons. I truly believe once people understand the power their money has, shareholders can change the world.”