How we are investing in our planet
In recognition of Earth Day, Jo Taylor, Anna Murray, Sarah Yates and George Konidis sat down to share their thoughts about our commitments to the environment and our progress.
What environmental issue is most concerning you and what are we, at Ontario Teachers', actively doing to address it?
Jo Taylor, President and CEO: Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. To address it from our perspective, we have developed a multi-faceted strategy that involves investing in green and transition assets, helping our portfolio companies decarbonize, issuing green bonds to support their funding and more. Last year, we added $3 billion in new Green assets – companies that generate clean energy, reduce demand for fossil fuels, and build a sustainable economy.
This is precisely what it means to invest to shape a better future. It is about investing in and improving high-quality businesses, including those effecting positive change, acting as responsible stewards of assets, and using our voice for change.
We have developed a multi-faceted strategy that involves investing in green and transition assets, helping our portfolio companies decarbonize, issuing green bonds to support their funding and more.
This year's Earth Day theme is Invest in Our Planet. What does this mean to you and how is it relevant to Ontario Teachers'?
Anna Murray, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Investing: We’ve been a sustainable investing trailblazer for years. We put words into action by making public commitments to be net zero by 2050, strengthening our proxy voting guidelines for climate oversight, setting interim portfolio carbon footprint reduction targets, as well as targets for our portfolio companies to establish decarbonization plans. We have a robust integration process embedding ESG considerations across the investment lifecycle.
George Konidis, Managing Director, Real Estate & Workplace Transformation: We have to live and breathe our commitment, and that starts with our place of business – our workplace. Our new downtown Toronto office will incorporate a variety of sustainable measures such as targeting LEED certification. We also partner with landlords globally who share in our sustainable goals. This way we can ensure that our workforce is well-placed within environments that prioritize the reduction of our carbon footprint and enhance our wellbeing.
What is Ontario Teachers' doing in terms of environmental preservation that resonates with you?
Sarah Yates, Director, Private Capital: Last year, a group of us from the London Office participated in a Community Service Day at Vauxhall City Farm. This is a farm located in Lambeth that delivers environment-related education activities to children, provides employment opportunities to young people, and acts as a general wellness and recreational resource to the local community. I also look forward to getting involved in the Equities Community Service Day this year, which will be aligned with our impact themes of advancing environmental action and leveling the playing field.
George Konidis: I am particularly proud of how we’re working with Cadillac Fairview to take an industry-leading approach towards reducing its environmental footprint. Through innovative award-winning sustainability programs, Cadillac Fairview continues pioneering ways to take real action on climate change and resource protection with a clear focus on carbon, energy, water, waste management and responsible procurement.
Our authentic and long-standing commitment to ESG, in addition to our incredibly bright and forward-thinking talent pool, provides a robust blueprint with which to deliver on our pension promise to members.
When you think about the commitments Ontario Teachers' is making towards the environment, what are you most excited about?
Anna Murray: I’m most excited about making a real-world impact in direct partnership with my global colleagues. We have a strong commitment to embedding ESG practices that are core to our cultural fabric. Our authentic and long-standing commitment to ESG, in addition to our incredibly bright and forward-thinking talent pool, provides a robust blueprint with which to deliver on our pension promise to members.
Sarah Yates: Our commitment to decarbonize our portfolio and significantly increase green investments are two areas that excite and motivate me. In practical terms, I have tried to support the decarbonization aim through my involvement with Busy Bees, one of our largest assets in Europe. I have worked with management to advance ESG strategy and governance, and achieve environmental targets related to reduced carbon emissions, waste and energy consumption, greater procurement of renewable electricity, and increased recycling.
What are we doing from a sustainability perspective as an organization?
Jo Taylor: We have embedded a focus on sustainability in how we operate. Among other things, this means managing our operating footprint with a clear focus on sustainability. We have decreased our portfolio carbon emissions intensity by 32% since 2019 and it remained unchanged in 2022. We also set the intention to invest $5 billion in High Carbon Transition assets – high-emitting companies with credible decarbonization plans that we believe we can accelerate through our capital and expertise.
We can all be proud of the role we are playing to address some of the more pressing environmental and social challenges facing the world while creating long-term value and delivering attractive returns for our members.