UK hedge fund star’s $4.4bn Foundation is financial backer of planned pension fund climate legal case

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) is funding new Climate and Pensions Legal Initiative.

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the $4.4bn charity set up by the London-based billionaire hedge-fund manager Sir Chris Hohn and his former wife Jamie Cooper-Hohn, is the financial backer of the planned legal test case against a UK pension fund, which could test the boundaries of fiduciary duty on the financial implications of climate change, RI can reveal.
The CIFF was set up more than a decade ago to “tackle preventable deaths, illness, abuse and malnutrition” in children.
It has been backed by about $2bn in donations from Hohn’s hedge fund, the Children’s Investment Fund (TCI), with its remaining assets generated by investment returns.
The Foundation has been gearing up its donations to climate change related projects ahead of this year’s COP21 climate conference in Paris. Out of $640m in multi-year grant commitments, CIFF has $155m targeting climate change alleviation, which it says, can help reduce the conditions that lead to child poverty and illness. It has already funded CDP – formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project – to the tune of $5.3m for a project running from April 2014 to March 2017titled ‘Valuing Corporate Carbon’. This aims to drive corporate emissions reductions through investor engagement with companies via new in-depth sectoral analysis from CDP ranking the exposure of companies to financial emissions-related risks.
Market sources told RI that the Climate and Pensions Legal Initiative (CPLI) launched yesterday by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) and ClientEarth, the London-based ‘environmental’ law firm, is also being funded by CIFF. The CPLI says it will work with pension scheme members they say want to challenge their funds to fulfil “legal duties” to protect investments from the financial risks posed by climate change. Sources say the aim is to bring a legal test case on fiduciary duty.
CIFF has a European Climate Strategic Litigation programme worth $11.4m running for a grant period from October 2014 – September 2017. It aims to reduce C02 emissions from existing coal plants, improve air quality and reduce emissions from the corporate sector by funding strategically-selected legal cases.