Who Is Developing the Net-Zero Investment Frameworks?

Net-zero investing  is still in its infancy. Many questions remain about how investors and the investment industry can best support and contribute to net zero. Numerous organizations, coalitions, and initiatives are working to develop and mature the practices of net-zero investing.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), founded in 1992, focuses on the intersection of environmental issues and finance. The organization established Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in 2006, Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) in 2012, and Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) in 2019. Between 2019 and 2021, UNEP FI convened three financial sector alliances: the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (NZAOA), the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), and the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA). These three alliances are part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ).

Although the PRI was established through the efforts of UNEP FI and the UN Global Compact, it is now an independent organization. PRI’s mission is “to understand the investment implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors [and] to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions.” PRI’s work is broad, and net zero is but one issue on which it focuses. PRI has numerous net-zero policy reports, case studies, and resources on its website.

Four large, regionally focused, not-for-profit organizations—whose membership is composed primarily of institutional asset owners and managers—have had a strong influence on the development of net-zero investing practices:

  • Ceres, in North America
  • Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), in Europe
  • Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), in Australasia
  • Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), in Asia

These four organizations are anchors for broader coalitions, such as the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM), Paris Aligned Investment Initiative (PAII), Paris Aligned Asset Owners (PAAO), Climate Action 100+, and The Investor Agenda. An important contribution from this group of organizations is the Net Zero Investment Framework.

GFANZ was created in 2021 with the mission to increase the number of financial institutions committed to net zero and to address the challenges of attaining it. GFANZ has eight alliances in total: the three alliances convened by UNEP FI (previously mentioned) plus NZAM, PAAO, Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance (NZFSPA), Net Zero Investment Consultants Initiative (NZICI), and Venture Climate Alliance (VCA). GFANZ focuses on net-zero transition planning for financial institutions, mobilizing capital for emerging and developing markets, and driving effective net-zero public policy.

Finally, CFA Institute strives to support net-zero investors through its education, research, advocacy, and standard-setting capabilities. Net zero is a topic that is addressed both narrowly and broadly in CFA Institute products and publications, reflecting the fact that net zero is a sub-topic of climate investing, which is itself a sub-topic of ESG investing, responsible investing, and sustainable investing. Here are just a handful of CFA Institute contributions that are relevant to net-zero investing:

In addition, the CFA Institute Research and Policy Center website contains hundreds of articles, webinars, videos, podcasts, and blogs on a multitude of sustainability-related topics, including net zero, carbon markets, transition finance, corporate disclosures, ESG/climate data, green/climate bonds, climate risk analysis, supply chain climate exposure, and scenario analysis. These can be found on our Sustainability Reporting page and by searching for key words using the site’s search function.

The CFA Institute work on net zero is guided by principles and positions that reflect our mission, vision, and values. CFA Institute aims to educate and support those investors that are interested in supporting net zero while recognizing that not all investors are interested in doing so.  

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