Our environmental impact
Our aim is to play our part in the move to a net zero economy. Achieving this depends on us understanding the impact we have on the environment, both directly through our operations and indirectly through the investments we make. We will actively promote approaches that mitigate and minimise our impact on the natural world.
The world’s response to COVID-19 only served to underscore the impact that can be had if people, nations and businesses work together. Despite the inevitable postponement of COP26, 2020 did not see a decrease in effort towards slowing and reversing the climate crisis. Businesses came together to call on the UK Government to drive a green recovery. Recognising the part Rathbones can play in the transition to a net zero economy, we have continued to track and reduce our operational footprint and are working to understand the impact of climate change on our investment portfolios.
As a business we continued to support CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), both as an investor and as a responding business. With CDP’s move to align its framework to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), additional financial services questions were introduced in 2020. Our score of B reflected our willingness to respond to this new methodology and we are confident that delivering on a number of existing projects, such as the setting of targets and integration of ESG factors into the decision-making for our investment portfolios, will continue to improve our score.
We support the work of the TCFD and in 2020 produced our first response in alignment with its recommendations in our annual report. Allied to the work being undertaken by our business to integrate environmental, social and governance data into our investment decisions and engagement process we have created a cross-functional team to oversee our approach. The responsible business committee has oversight of both our responsible investment programme and our environmental programme and supports their interaction as well as approving our TCFD, PRI and CDP disclosures.
For more information read our environment report.
With the delayed climate talks in Glasgow now in 2021, and the strengthening commitment from government and regulators supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy, and the UK’s aim to achieve net zero by 2050, the need for business to understand and act with regard to our climate impact will only grow. Aligning work across our operations and investments will help us play our part in the economy’s transition. We have several priorities for our environmental programme including:
- investigating our net zero transition pathway, including understanding the impact of climate on our investment portfolios
- setting targets across our operational footprint
- transitioning our offices to green energy
- expanding our external disclosures for example TCFD and CDP.
The impact of our investments
As a provider of investment and wealth management services we recognise the need to improve our understanding of the climate-related risks which will impact our clients’ investment portfolios, as this is the material proportion of our footprint.
Like many businesses our footprint has been impacted by COVID-19. In 2020, our carbon footprint reduced by 46.3% with total emissions of 1,123 tCO2e (2019:2,091 tCO2e). With our total funds under management increasing by 8.6% to £54.7 billion, our emissions intensity (tCO2e/£bn FUMA) has correspondingly decreased by 50.6%.
Whilst our footprint has evidently reduced this year, we recognise that this level is unlikely to be sustained. Our commitment to reducing our footprinting our operations in parallel with offsetting of our residual emissions remains and we purchased and retired 1,171tonnes of CO2e credits in 2020 to compensate for our 2020 residual emissions and the additional emissions from our restatement of 2019 scope 3. Having reviewed our approach to offsetting we are furthering our partnership with ClimateCare to identify high-impact projects which reduce carbon emissions and enable community development. Each of these exciting projects was selected in line with our support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and is certified by internationally accredited bodies. As we set long-term targets we will continue to assess the role of offsetting, including the source of our credits.