Aegon joins call for action on climate change

Global, December 11, 2015

Aegon CEO Alex Wynaendts has backed a call for European governments, and the European Commission, currently meeting in Paris, to make a “strong and ambitious response to climate change”.

Aegon joins call for action on climate change

The statement, co-signed by Alex Wynaendts, was sent by lobby group the European Financial Services Roundtable (EFR) to world leaders attending the Conference of the Parties climate change (COP21) in the French capital, ending on December 11.

EFR member companies, including Aegon, supported the commitment to put "more focus on understanding, managing and reducing carbon asset risks and to supporting our customers in the transition to a low carbon future."

Signatories also commit to working with policymakers and regulators to support private climate finance, ensure consistent voluntary standards for disclosure by companies, and to develop methods to assess exposure to climate-related risks.

Call to action

The declaration seeks long-term regulatory stability for low-carbon investments and the implementation and review of national mitigation strategies. In addition, the insurance and banking body encouraged the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies while seeking further robust pricing on carbon to "change behaviors and influence investment decisions."

According to Aegon's Marc van Weede, Global Head of Strategy and Sustainability, it is imperative that governments take the lead and encourage transparency on the social and economic costs associated with the fossil fuels industry.

Distortive incentives, such as subsidies should be removed, This is a stance for the policymakers. As an institutional investor, we cannot act collectively to reduce investments in fossil industries without falling foul of anti-trust rules.

Marc van Weede Global Head of Strategy and Sustainability

Aegon's position

Aegon has been a member of the EFR since its inception in 2001. The EFR release is not the only climate change statement that Aegon has signed up to in recent months. On November 19, the international insurance think tank, The Geneva Association, reissued its climate change related statement, also signed by Aegon. The Climate Risk Statement said the prospect of extreme climate change and its potentially devastating economic and social consequences are "of great concern" to the insurance industry.

Aegon has made a strong commitment to responsible investment, including integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in its investment processes. As a result, climate change and related risks are currently high on the agenda.

In 2014, Aegon conducted carbon footprint measurement and is currently exploring ways to follow up on this. Asset Management risk managers also hosted experts from Cambridge University, Carbon Tracker, investment advisor MSCI and Shell in a four-day "Climate Change Summer Camp" this year, to look at the implications climate change has on insurance and investment. Aegon is additionally analyzing potential investment in sustainable energy projects.