The annual general meetings of the Ethos Foundation and Ethos Services SA were held this morning in Bern. All the items on the agenda were approved, starting with the climate action plan which should enable Ethos to achieve its goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This afternoon, a conference dedicated to the sustainable and inclusive economy will will bring together a panel of experts who and will be broadcast live from 1:45 p.m. on the Ethos Foundation website (in French or German).
All the items on the agenda of the Ethos Foundation's annual general meeting were accepted this Thursday morning. During a meeting held in Bern, the board of the Foundation took leave of Andrea Frost, who recently retired from her mandate with a Swiss pension fund member of Ethos. Anne Troillet, a lawyer specialised and recognised in the field of occupational pensions, was elected to replace her as representative of a member of the Foundation.
On their side, the shareholders of Ethos Services SA also approved all the points submitted to their vote. The board of directors took leave of René Sieber, whose term of office has reached the maximum of 20 years provided for by Ethos. The board of directors praised his remarkable contribution to the development of Ethos Services SA, thanks in particular to his expertise in wealth management. As chairman of the asset management committee, René Sieber greatly contributed to the development of the range of Ethos funds dedicated to responsible investment.
Vote on Ethos' climate strategy
Following the best practices that it itself advocates with listed companies in Switzerland and abroad, Ethos had decided to voluntarily submit its climate strategy to the advisory vote of its members (Foundation) and shareholders (Ethos Services SA). This strategy was approved in a so-called “Say on Climate” vote that will now be repeated every year to report on the progress made in relation to the climate objectives set.
Although Ethos has been working for more than 15 years to fight global warming, the current global situation requires an intensification of measures. As such, Ethos took a new step in December 2021 by signing the "Net Zero Asset Managers" (NZAM) initiative and thus committing to support the goal of net zero greenhouse gas (‘GHG’) emissions by 2050, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C (‘net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner’). To do so, Ethos will continue and intensify the measures already in place regarding the composition of investment funds and active ownership.
Ethos has set itself the following objectives to contribute to the global objective of carbon neutrality: reduce its own emissions (direct and indirect) by 20% by 2025, reduce the carbon intensity of each Ethos investment fund by at least 90% by 2050 (with intermediate targets), and align all these funds on a global temperature trajectory well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C by 2030 at the latest.
Intensification of engagement and realignment of portfolios
In accordance with the requirements of the NZAM initiative as well as the recommendations of the "Science-Based Targets" initiative (SBTi) for the financial sector, the objectives included in Ethos' climate strategy therefore concern all its GHG emissions, including those emitted by companies included in investment funds (scope 3). To achieve these ambitious and complementary objectives, Ethos relies on the following actions:
- Decarbonise as a priority the companies held in the portfolio by intensifying active ownership measures to encourage them to reduce their GHG emissions in accordance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. To increase the pressure on companies, Ethos will not hesitate to resort to intensification measures, such as the filing of shareholder resolutions. Each Ethos fund must therefore include a minimum percentage – which will increase over the years up to 100% – of companies that have set climate objectives validated by science (SBTi or equivalent);
- Modify the composition of investment funds by reallocating assets to companies whose activities and emissions are aligned with a warming of 1.5°C. To do this, Ethos will gradually replace its carbon rating with a “transition” rating which will make it possible to better assess the strategy and climate performance of companies. This new tool will allow to analyse their climate commitments as well as the measures put in place and the results obtained in order to contain and reduce the GHGs associated with their activities. Ethos' exclusion criteria will also be gradually strengthened in order to exclude from investments companies with high GHG emissions that have not set reduction targets aligned with a warming of 1.5°C;
- Prioritise investment in companies that offer solutions to current environmental and social challenges. Ethos is currently developing its own taxonomy of activities compatible with the energy transition essential to limit global warming. This positive impact analysis methodology will be published and implemented in the course of 2022.
Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of Ethos: “The vast majority of our GHG emissions are due to the companies in which the funds we offer to our clients are invested. We therefore depend greatly on the decarbonisation of these companies to reduce our carbon footprint. Therefore, Ethos must favour active ownership to push companies towards faster change. As a partner of Swiss pension funds for responsible investment, we are ideally placed to support them and help them reduce the emissions of their investments, in particular by benefiting from the leverage effect we have with companies.”