Press Release – Reclaim Finance and the Sunrise Project

Paris, Glasgow, Monday 1st November 2021 – 43 asset managers, as part of their commitment as members of the Net Zero Asset Manager Initiative, have just published their 2030 interim targets to support the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

  • Interim targets have been set on a subset of their total assets under management: 65% of the total assets managed by the 43 financial institutions are not covered by the announced targets and will not be managed in line with net zero emissions by 2050. The NZAMI network partners have also published new expectations for their members, including to release fossil fuel phase-out policies
  • Reclaim Finance and The Sunrise Project sound the alarm as these announcements fail to set the right path for the asset managers to align with climate science and leave the path open to fossil fuel expansion
  • NGOs denounce glaring loopholes allowing targets to be set on a subset of AUM. This disregards assets in carbon intensive sectors and thus presents a serious roadblock to halving emissions by 2030. While the new expectation on fossil fuel phase-out policies is a step in the right direction, the guidelines provided do not prevent assets from driving the expansion of fossil fuel, even coal. Furthermore, no timeline is set for members to adopt such policies, contradicting the need to put an immediate end to such expansion.
  • 11 out of the 43 asset managers which released their interim targets, among them Storebrand, committed to align 100% of their AUM with net zero by 2050. The wide gap between these leaders and the average trailing at 35%, with some big asset managers such as UBS even trundling as low as 20%, speaks volumes about the incoherence and inefficiency of the NZAMI framework.
  • The focus on lower carbon intensity alone rather than combined with absolute emissions targets provides a dangerous pathway for reliance on harmful negative emissions technologies and leaves the door open to further expansion of fossil fuel extraction.
  • Almost none of the asset managers have coupled their targets with a commitment to swiftly exit coal (1) and none of them plan on ending new fossil fuel supply investments, ignoring IEA findings.
  • Notably, BlackRock and Vanguard, the world’s largest asset managers and NZAMI signatories, are missing from this group target release. Together, the two finance behemoths manage over $17 trillion in assets, an amount that so far remains unaffected by concrete emissions reduction targets.

Lara Cuvelier, Campaigner, Reclaim Finance: “These interim targets are a dangerous distraction from the key issue of ending financial support for companies expanding fossil fuel production. This should be the top item in financial institutions’ in-trays on the first day of COP26. While the NZAMI has now clearly set out the expectation that members should adopt fossil fuel phase out policies, it authorizes them to apply these policies only to a small portion of their assets (2) and leaves room for new coal plants (3). There is also no deadline for its members to publish these policies. We are seeing asset managers making “net zero” pledges that will affect only a fraction of their AUM, while ignoring the elephant in the room – the most carbon-intensive sectors, including the fossil fuel industry. The NZAMI network partners need to set out a clear menu for action, instead of a large buffet that each AM can pick and choose from at will.”

Amanda Starbuck, Program Director, The Sunrise Project: “It is unacceptable that 65% of assets managed by the NZAMI are not aligned with the group’s emission targets. The IPCC has made it very clear that our window for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is closing rapidly. Yet, this initiative is delaying crucial action, allowing two-thirds of signatories’ assets to drive further fossil fuel expansion past this decade. This flies in the face of the IEA’s phase-out logic and is a concerning testament to the lack of ambition and coherence of the group’s target setting. BlackRock and Vanguard, who were missing in action at today’s release, now need to make up for their lack of leadership by setting targets that follow the example of Storebrand and the other asset managers who committed to align their entire portfolios with emission targets. Anything below 100% of assets on track to reach zero emissions by 2050 will make all previous sustainability rhetoric ring hollow. BlackRock as a self-proclaimed climate leader cannot credibly claim to be adding any value to global attempts to mitigate this escalating crisis without significantly reducing its support for climate destructive industries.”

Press contacts :

  • Lara Cuvelier, Campaigner, Reclaim Finance,, +33 6 68 45 18 93
  • Jacey Bingler, Senior Communications Campaigner, The Sunrise Project,, +1 207 616 6730

Notes :

  1. See here for a detailed analysis of asset managers’ coal policies (
  2. The NZAMI expectations on fossil fuels says “At a minimum this should cover the assets under management that a signatory commits to manage in line with net zero, and follow one of the positions below in relation to at least these assets.” This means policies could only cover a small portion of total assets under management.
  3. The NZAMI expectations on fossil fuel refer to the NZAOA position paper on coal, which is accepting the construction of 211 new coal plants.