Stockholm (NordSIP) – A new survey conducted by the Swedish Investment Fund Association (sifo) on behalf of Nordea has asked 1,000 respondents about their ability and willingness to live in a more climate-friendly manner, but yielded mixed results, particularly in terms of a divergence between personal habits and knowledge of the ends to which their investments are put to use.
On one hand, the statistical survey, conducted from May to June of 2018, shows that, for example, eight out of ten Swedes sort their waste, 48% consider paying more for organic products, one in three has reduced their meat consumption for reasons to do with climate change and another third opt for other transportation than cars while thinking specifically of the environment. On the other hand, barely more than one in ten (12%) invest most of their capital sustainably, and less than half of the respondents could answer whether their savings were invested in sustainable funds.
According to Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainable Finance at Nordea, people find it difficult to make the connection between their economic investments and climate change. “People lack sufficient information and it makes it difficult [for them] to link their investments to the climate issue,” he told Aktuell Hållbarhet. “The smaller things they can do in their daily lives, like eating less meat or driving smaller cars, fell more concrete, leading to the sentiment that this kind of symbolic action will suffice. But, the thing about money is that it is global. If you have a pension or investment, you are automatically already in the global ‘climate casino’ and are in a position to either win or lose.”
According to Nordea’s calculations, the average Swede can reduce their carbon footprint by 2,200 tonnes throughout their lifetimes by moving savings into sustainable funds. This represents a saving 27 times larger than the usually recommended lifestyle changes, such as reducing flying and car usages, or reducing meat and water consumption. Nordea’s calculations also suggest that if all global pension funds invested strictly sustainably, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent amount the suspension of 608 coal power stations.
On a similar note, Beslik took on the Swedish political establishment in an op-Ed published in Göteborgsposten last week written together with Johan Nysted, CEO of Nordea Life & Pensions Sweden.
“Swedish politicians do not seem to understand the power of money or what climate capital they manage,” the pair wrote, referencing the Nordea study. “Moving our overall pension savings into sustainable investments could reduce climate pressure to an extent equivalent to all climate-related emissions within Sweden’s borders. Nevertheless, the issue is never mentioned. And the sustainability requirements imposed on pensions and asset management are practically non-existent.”
“People are usually smart enough [to be able to check what their pension money is invested in]”, they continued. “However, information is not always easy to get hold of, and that’s why we want people to push for easier access [on behalf of their pension funds] for easier access to this information… Pension provides have not so far sufficiently informed, encouraged or facilitated pensioners to make active and sustainable pension choices.”
Beslik and Nysted urged Sweden’s upcoming government to make it easier for pensioners to choose sustainable investments by participating in a more active dialogue and creating clearer rules about asset management information and sustainability accounting, taking responsibility for how Swedish pension capital is invested overall and ensuring that pension managers systematically move their investments into sustainable alternatives.