Climate change stands as an all-encompassing public disbenefit, obstructing the path towards a better world. Within the United Kingdom’s charitable sector, an increasing number of entities are recognising the direct relevance of climate change to their charitable objectives. These organisations are not only highlighting the threats posed to the causes and communities they support but also advocating for a just and swift transition to a sustainable future. They are also demonstrating adaptability in response to the evolving policy landscape. 

The methods for creating the most substantial impact differ from one organisation to another. For those charitable entities that possess investment assets, a prime opportunity for driving positive climate action emerges in the form of selecting the right investment approach. Responsible investment practices have now become the standard for charities with assets under management.  

84% of respondents to a comprehensive survey have already implemented, or intend to adopt, such an approach in their investment strategies. 

According to the report, a significant gap persists between the beliefs held by charities, their strategic plans, and their tangible commitments regarding climate change. While a robust 76% of respondents acknowledge the imperative for charities to commit to addressing climate change, the execution of these commitments remains lagging, with only 54% having taken concrete steps in that direction. Even more striking is the fact that a mere 16% of respondents have established net zero targets, with just 10% extending these targets to encompass their investment portfolios. 

An analysis revealed that certain barriers impede the development of net zero investment approaches among charities. The foremost challenges that these organizations identify include apprehensions concerning investment returns and reservations about the efficacy of available investment solutions. In this context, the recent Butler-Sloss charity investment case has garnered considerable attention, yet only a minimal 5% of respondents anticipate significant repercussions on their investment strategies from this case. 

Confidence in climate-related investment policies emerges as a notable concern for many charitable entities. Creating a recurring cycle of subdued expectations, feeble mandates, ineffective engagement, and obscured reporting between charities and their investment managers. In order to overcome this challenge, charities are encouraged to set more audacious targets that harmonise their investment strategies with their mission and climate commitments. Correspondingly, investment managers must rise to the occasion by embracing these ambitious goals. 

For charity investors aspiring to enact effective change concerning climate action, five steps are outlined;  

1. Agree Motivation and Priorities: 

   – Determine the balance between addressing climate risk and achieving tangible impact, considering materiality and double materiality. 

   – Align climate priorities with your organization’s mission and desired returns. 

2. Set Timeframes and Objectives: 

   – Define the target year and reference year for your climate goals. 

   – Develop interim targets to measure progress over time. 

   – Outline the scope and extent of your climate action. 

3. Agree which levers are Preferred: 

   – Decide on the most suitable strategies to pursue: 

     – Avoidance or divestment from high-risk assets. 

     – Active ownership, engaging with companies to drive change. 

     – Adoption of climate solutions that promote sustainability. 

4. Determine Measurement and Tracking: 

   – Specify the methodology and metrics for assessing progress. 

   – Set targets for active ownership engagement. 

   – Define goals for climate solution adoption. 

   – Evaluate exposure to climate-related risks. 

5. Document the plan your in Investment Policy Statement: 

   – Formulate a clear plan within your Investment Policy Statement, such as aiming for alignment with    a 2050 net zero trajectory while adhering to risk and return objectives. 

   – Request annual reports from your asset manager, including: 

     – Yearly data reports based on agreed metrics. 

     – Proof of robust stewardship practices. 

Philanthropic organizations find themselves at the intersection of climate action and responsible investment. The urgency of addressing climate change resonates deeply, as it represents a universal barrier to progress. Despite the varying opportunities for impact across charities, the imperative to align investment strategies with climate commitments is widely acknowledged. While responsible investment is increasingly becoming the norm, there remains a chasm between beliefs, intentions, and actual actions within the sector. Overcoming these challenges necessitates ambitious targets, transparent reporting, and collaborative efforts between charities and investment managers. Through deliberate and decisive action, philanthropy can serve as beacons of change, forging a path toward a more sustainable future for all. 

The report in its entirety can be found here.