The Witan Investment Trust is aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as a company and within its portfolio by 2050, and is also joining the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM).
The trust’s board made the announcement on 2 March confirming it will report on defined milestones on an interim basis, in line with the NZAM requirements.
NZAM signatories have committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. Witan is the first investment trust to sign the NZAM and joins the current 220 signatories, who collectively have more than $50trn in assets under management.
As a multi-manager investment trust, Witan’s board has ensured the fund managers it allocates to are signatories of the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) – as Witan is – but only half of the current fund managers are signed up to NZAM.
James Hart, investment director at Witan Investment Trust, said those that are not yet signed up will not be automatically removed from the portfolio.
“A commitment to net zero is about promoting engagement with companies to effect change and have a greater positive impact than they would if we insisted on divestment.
“Imposing a blanket ban on investment in certain companies or sectors (other than very selectively) risks hiding problems or transferring them to less well-regulated jurisdictions.
“Our focus is on working with our managers to ensure ESG issues are properly assessed and addressed, to hold them to account and if necessary change managers whose processes fall short. We face a pressing opportunity to combat climate change and to prosper from efforts to mitigate or adapt to it. We relish being part of this opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Bell, CEO at Witan Investment Trust, commented on the net-zero pledges: “We are proud to be the first investment trust to have joined the NZAM. This commitment is underpinned by our responsible investment strategy and our long-term investment approach. By joining the NZAM, we hope to lead by example and encourage other companies, including those we invest in, to progress towards a net-zero future.”