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New Zealand’s sovereign wealth fund NZ Super Fund (not to be confused with the USEPA Superfund) made a surprise move contrary to existing trends in financed emissions – and may contradict TCFD and the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF). In its independently assured Carbon Footprint 2023 report, the Fund states:

“Our bond investments are considered to have no carbon footprint (and no revenue) assigned. This is based on the Market Capitalisation approach as set out in TCFD guidance, where emissions are allocated based on equity ownership. In this approach, bonds are not allocated fossil fuel reserves, emissions and revenue as there is no equity ownership.”

Responsible Investor reports that not everyone agrees this is a valid approach.

A banker with knowledge of the carbon accounting methodologies developed by global body PCAF told Responsible Investor that the decision is ‘likely to be a pretty significant omission of impact’. They pointed out that PCAF covers bonds, including sovereigns.

Josephine Richardson, head of research at climate-focused think tank the Anthropocene Fixed Income Institute (AFII), said TCFD’s guidance makes it clear that when calculating a footprint of non-equity investments such as debt, ’emissions can be allocated across the capital structure. It doesn’t seem reasonable that any investment in a non-zero emissions producing issuer should have zero emissions’.

Interesting at the very least. Will this set a new precedent for carbon reporting in the financial services sector? Or will NZ be forced to change their ways? Stay tuned.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile