Breakfast with Barroso: what the giant P8 pension funds talked about in Brussels

Investors also met with the US Ambassador to Belgium.

The recent meeting in Brussels between some of the world’s biggest institutional investors and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, to discuss how to get more capital into renewable energy, put pension funds at the heart of a discussion where they look set to have an increasingly important role. That the funds had an additional meeting during the same visit with the US ambassador to Belgium, demonstrates the global nature of that challenge. The investors from the HRH Prince of Wales, Prince Charles-backed P8 group and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) – together representing around €8 trillion in assets – met Barroso over breakfast to lobby for low-carbon investment as the most effective driver of economic recovery. It came in advance of Prince Charles’ own major address to a summit of over 300 Members of the European Parliament and economists including Lord Nicholas Stern, at a Low Carbon Prosperity Summit hosted by Jerzy Buzek, President of the Parliament. Aled Jones, Facilitator of the P8 group, says the meeting with Barroso was positive: “He was particularly encouraging on issues such as potential green growth and green jobs.” However, the reality of more developed discussions is less smooth than political optimism.Talking with the US Ambassador to Belgium, Jones says one of the most important barriers raised byinvestors was the low price of carbon, which they believe needs to be much higher and stable. That is a difficult Ambassadorial take-home message to Washington where a government carbon strategy has for the moment been politically nixed, with most observers expecting little to change in the next two years at least. Aside from the political meetings, the P8 held its own gathering in Brussels. Presentations focused on UN 2030 targets for green growth and notably on mobilising private equity and debt investment. Jones says: “Green bonds were very much a fixture of the programme with discussion on how a vibrant market can be created. Members of the Prince of Wales Climate Wise group of insurers were also in attendance, and particularly interested in the green bond and fixed income discussion.” Presentations were also made to the P8 meeting on promotion of the Integrated International Reporting Committee, which seeks to incorporate ESG information alongside corporate financial reporting, an initiative also backed by Prince Charles. The P8 group actually comprises ten pension funds: three from Europe, three from Asia, three from the US and one from Australia. It includes the Universities Superannuation Scheme in the UK, ABP in the the Netherlands and CalPERS and CalSTRS, the two largest US pension funds.
Link to story: P8 Facilitator Aled Jones departs