David Russell, former head of responsible investment at Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), has been appointed to take over as chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) board following the decision by Adam Matthews to step down in September.
Officially launched in 2017, the TPI is led by asset owners and supported by asset managers, and aims to be an authoritative source of research and data into the progress made by corporates in transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
In 2022, the initiative – which is now backed by 136 investors with aggregate assets under management of more than $50 trillion – co-funded the TPI Global Climate Transition Centre at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Politics.
The centre provides open data on corporations’ and sovereigns’ management and governance of their carbon emissions, as well as their carbon emissions pathways.
From its inception, Matthews – who is the chief responsible investment officer at the Church of England Pensions Board – co-chaired the steering committee, becoming sole chair when a formal board was formed in 2021.
Russell, who stepped down from USS last month, has participated in the TPI’s governance structure since its launch.
Commenting on his appointment, Russell said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be given this opportunity. Given the urgent need to address climate change, the work that the investors will do with the analysis provided by the newly created TPI Global Climate Transition Centre at the LSE is crucial for investment decision-making and stewardship activities.”
Matthews, the outgoing chair, said it had been an “enormous privilege” to have founded and led the TPI. “I am acutely conscious that it has always been a collaborative effort and many hands have built it,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “I believe it is the right time for TPI for a new chair and I therefore step down with complete confidence in the future success and growth of the initiative.”
He added that stepping down will enable him to focus on chairing the Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030, which will look to push mining firms to improve standards in a series of key sustainability areas, including child labour, indigenous communities, impacts on biodiversity, and tailings dams.
Matthews also plans to explore “a wider initiative on responsible investment approaches related to conflict and extractive industries”, following recent visits to conflict areas.
In June, he spent three days in Pemba in the north of Mozambique, where an ongoing conflict has led to the deaths of more than 4,000 people. Reflecting on his visit, Matthews wrote: “Investors need to build our understanding of conflict, reconciliation, peacebuilding and the role of business.”
When Responsible Investor asked for more details on this new work, he said: “It will be a key focus of the Global Investor Commission, but I am also looking at how we approach conflict as a responsible investor and what this looks like. The visit to Mozambique I posted about was deeply informative.”
Stephen Barrie, deputy chief responsible investment officer of the Church of England Pensions Board, will continue to ensure that the pensions board plays a strategic role as its representative on the TPI board and in the strategic advisory committee.