Stockholm (NordSIP) – Swedish pension fund AP4, Norway financial services company Storebrand AM and Danish pension fund Lægernes Pension are three Nordic asset owners among the major companies backing the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge (TFFP), the new initiative from tobacco Free Portfolios, an NGO, which was launched at the United Nations General Assembly last week.
The initiative is backed by the UN PRI, the UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance and the UN Environment’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).
“With 7 million deaths worldwide each year and a forecast of 1 billion deaths this century due to tobacco-related illnesses, global and multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed to tackle the devastating impact of society, as well as on the environment,” the pledge for the initiative reads.
The initiative, which supports Sustainable Development Goal #3: “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, requires its signatories to “collaborate to raise awareness of the issue of lending to, and investing in, and insuring tobacco companies.”
“For Storebrand, divesting tobacco from all our funds and portfolios already in 2005 was a natural move. Tobacco is a lethal investment that has a profound negative effect on public health. By signing this pledge we would like to urge others to do the same and thus contribute to a tobacco free world,” said Åsa Wallenberg, head of SPP Funds at Storebrand AM, at the signing ceremony, where she represented Storebrand.
“By replacing tobacco with other non-cyclical consumer goods, Storebrand has proven for over 10 years that the exclusion of tobacco can be achieved without compromising returns. To exclude tobacco should therefore be an obvious choice for all consumers,” she added.
The pledge has already been signed by 92 asset owners worth €5.8 trillion, including BNP Paribas, Natixis, AXA and Robeco.
Index provider MSCI also launched five new equity benchmarks excluding tobacco-related investments. These do not include tobacco producers and also exclude companies earning 5% or more from tobacco-related products.
“There is growing demand for exclusionary indices globally, including interest among the world’s largest pension and endowment funds for tobacco exclusion benchmarks,” according to Deborah Yang, MSCI global head of ESG indices.