Almost one in two (44 per cent) of pension savers said their would switch to a ‘green’ product if one was offered by their provider, according to new YouGov research.
This research, commissioned by the campaign group Make My Money Matter, also found that six out of 10 pensions savers (61 per cent) said they wanted their retirement savings to take a more active role in tackling climate change.
However the research showed many savers have little knowledge about where their pensions are currently invested, with eight out of 10 (80 per cent) saying they have never considered whether their monthly contributions could be accelerating global warming. In fact, almost two thirds (63 per cent ) of savers admit to having no idea where their pension is invested.
Younger generations, despite being most concerned about climate change, know the least about where their pension is invested. Three quarters (74 per cent) of those aged 18-24 do not know where their monthly pension contributions are invested and more than one third (37 per cent) of those in this age bracket are unaware that their pension counts as an investment at all.
Poor transparency from employers and pension providers appears to be driving scepticism and pessimism among scheme members. Almost half (47 per cent) of savers do not think that their employer adequately communicates where their scheme is invested and a further 43 per cent feel that their provider does not offer enough information about their pension.
This lack of clarity leads pension holders to assume the worst as only 12 per cent of pension holders assume that their pension is currently having a positive impact on people and the planet. In reality a number of leading pension providers have more recently moved to increase sustainability of their assets under management, with a number now embracing net zero targets.
The research showed specific areas of concern among savers. Over half (55 per cent) of pension holders say they would switch provider if they uncovered that their pension was invested in deforestation or labour rights violations and just under half would do the same if their money was found to be funding fossil fuels (41 per cent) or the production of weapons (49 per cent).
Richard Curtis, film director and co-founder of Make My Money Matter said:
“This research absolutely confirms what our campaign and many others have been saying – that UK savers want their money invested in ways which help tackle the climate crisis. But are held back by a lack of information, poor communication and limited choice.
“As people across the UK increasingly engage with all the things we can do fight climate change – from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and how we travel – 80 per cent of us never think about how our money could actually be contributing to the climate crisis. Having a sustainable pension can make our money matter and be one of the most powerful tools we have to change the world.
“To do this, we’re calling for all pension providers to commit to Net Zero targets by COP26 [the international climate conference being held in Glasgow this Autumn] ensuring that the UK becomes a true global leader in green pensions.
“We know that continued investments in unsustainable businesses are bad for the planet and go against the wishes of the majority of UK savers. They are also increasingly bad for returns and sustainable pensions are now delivering excellent returns. Now is the moment for the pensions industry to respond, and make sure that the £3 trillion invested in our pensions actually helps to build a world we want to retire in.”