The Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance published today a “Response to the Reclaim Finance report”. This report, entitled “It’s Not What You Say, It’s What you Do”, criticizes the financial sector’s net zero alliances for failing both to address fossil fuel expansion and to enact reductions in absolute emissions. Our response to the NZAOA is below.

Reclaim Finance is committed to dialogue and had shared its report, published today, with all concerned parties several days before publication, including with the NZAOA. We welcome this answer by the NZAOA to the criticisms we raised in our analysis.

It’s good to see the UN convened NZAOA clarify its position on critical aspects, like the fact that members who fail to meet the alliance’s criteria will be delisted. However, we regret that the AOA response to our criticism about offsets refers to CDR, and above all, remains blind around the necessity of adding strong fossil fuel engagement and exclusion policies to the adoption of emissions reduction targets.

The AOA’s reply is misleading when it says it implies that Reclaim Finance is calling for a full and immediate divestment from all fossil fuels. Reclaim Finance, along with many NGOs, is calling for a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and an immediate stop in the development of new projects and new oil and gas fields.

While science has made clear that there has been no room for new coal projects for several years already, the IEA underlined in its NZ scenario and flagship WEO that no new oil and gas fields beyond those approved in 2021 are required to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

A just transition, that the AOA is calling for, is possible only if the phase out of the fossil sector is planned starting now and not if we keep worsening the situation.

Yet, none of the major AOA members has conditioned further investment in fossil fuel companies to a clear stop in the development of such projects after a specific deadline. And it’s important to remember that the NZAOA coal position paper still allows the construction of 211 new coal plants.

While the AOA argues that “only through engagement (and not through divestment), can real-world impacts be achieved, and real-world emissions are reduced swiftly”, we argue that engaging with companies that are still actively building some of the most polluting energy assets while renewable energies has become cheaper is at best a waste of time and resources, at worst a denial of science and of the urgency of the climate crisis.