Vast majority of Swedes want AP funds to take ESG factors into account

Nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) Swedes believe that the AP funds should take the environment and ethics into account in the management of pensions, according to a survey from AP7.

The survey, carried out in conjunction with Kantar Sifo, noted that the findings were in line with how the AP funds are governed by law.

However, it found that there was a split view on whether pension funds can influence companies on ESG issues.

More than a third (35 per cent) support ESG factors being taken into account as long as it does not lead to lower pensions.

Just under a quarter (24 per cent) believed that the AP funds should take account of ESG factors in investments no matter the effect on pensions.

Meanwhile, 18 per cent thought that a higher return should be set as a requirement for the funds to take the environment and ethics into account.

However, 14 per cent did not believe that ethics and the environment should be taken into account by the pension funds.

Regional differences were found, with metropolitan areas more likely to think pension investments should take the environment and ethics into account than rural areas.

On stewardship, around a third believed that pension funds can contribute to influencing companies to operate more sustainably, while a further third were doubtful about the possibility for the funds to contribute and around 10 per cent did not believe pension funds could contribute at all.

“The results from the two questions in the survey show that there is a desire for the pension funds to get involved and take sustainability into account, but a split picture of how much can be achieved,” AP7 stated.

“Since the solutions to the global problems are neither quick nor easy, it is understandable that there is an unclear picture of the possibilities of the capital market to achieve results that have real effects on the companies' emissions and working conditions.

“Pension companies and the capital industry will not be able to address the challenges in the world on their own, but can contribute together with politicians and market forces through laws, international agreements, innovation and customer demand. Here capital can act through ownership control as well as directing capital flows.”

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