The new Private Equity Climate Risks Scorecard, authored by PESP and AFREF, has seen wide coverage in the media since its release on September 14. Take a look at what different media outlets and organizations are saying about the scorecard and climate demands.
The Guardian’s article featured researchers from both AFRER and PESP.“The scorecard provides important information and analysis that can help investors and communities understand what these firms are doing, and makes very clear that the firm’s climate commitments are largely empty words,” said Oscar Valdés Viera, research manager at AFREF, told The Guardian.
“Private equity firms have created large climate risks for the investors providing the capital, especially as they act as fiduciaries of public sector workers’ retirement savings. As societal sentiment grows in support of a clean energy economy, the risk of doubling down on dirty energy assets is becoming clear,” said Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer, PESP’s own climate research director.
This coverage was reproduced in Mother Jones: Despite Pledges, Private Equity Giants Sinks Billions Into Dirty Fuels.
Bloomberg spent time with PESP climate research director Alyssa Giachino, talking about the lack of transparency in the PE industry.“The industry is operating in the shadows,” Alyssa Giachino told Bloomberg. “The remedy is transparency.“Almost all of the industry’s biggest firms have in different ways developed ESG policies to demonstrate that they take climate change seriously…But there’s no standardized reporting, so little of what they’re doing is quantifiable.”
CBS also interviewed both Oscar and Riddhi as authors of the scorecard. Oscar Valdés Viera: Private equity firms are “emerging as pollution financiers of last resort.”
Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer: “These polluting assets are shifting from the public markets, where there is greater amount of regulatory and public scrutiny, into the shadows of our financial industry, where private equity usually operates.”
Greater Baton Rouge Business Report reproduced the CBS News story in their newsletter here: Private equity industry replacing Wall Street as oil and gas investors.
Institutional Investor: Report Sparks Questions Over Transparency Into Private Equity Holdings
Institutional Investor focused its reporting on the scorecard report’s point of the lack of fossil fuel disclosure among the PE industry. II said, “Two non-profit watchdogs say a dispute over its joint oil and gas scorecard illustrates the lack of readily available information on a huge industry.”
Oscar Valdés Viera from AFREF talked to II about the solid and heavily-research nature of the scorecard’s data and methodology. “We’re not pulling anything into our datasets that is not backed by their press releases and their own statements on their websites,” he said.
When speaking on how PE firms claim that some of their assets are not contributing to climate change, Viera said, “They want to say that it’s not a fossil fuel company. But for the rest of the world, it is a fossil fuel company.”
When firms like The Carlyle Group say they will partner with energy companies to work toward progress, Viera pushed back “saying that engagement and stewardship does not fit into the private equity business model.”
“Their business model is not to engage over a long period of time but to sell within five years, maybe three years,” he said. “Such a short time frame is not really [conducive] to engage in a meaningful way.”
CityWire Selector: Non-profits demand PE rapidly transitions away from polluting fossil fuels
CityWire Selector published this joint quote from report authors PESP and AFREF:“[Private equity’s] lack of substantive progress in meeting the climate demands particularly around transparency, integrating climate and environmental justice, and aligning their portfolio with the 1.5C warming scenario, as further described in this report, indicates that private equity firms not only lack climate leadership but are lagging in the effort to move the world to a renewable energy future.
“In the midst of the climate crisis, substantial change is necessary within the capital markets. Private equity firms, as fiduciaries of billions of dollars of public sector workers’ retirement savings, have a responsibility to take more of a leadership role in redirecting flows of capital towards clean energy [endeavors] that minimize climate and financial risks as the world transitions away from fossil fuels. But they have not.
“Society cannot afford to let private markets continue to pollute under the shroud of darkness. The institutional investors whose retirement capital is at risk, the communities harmed by fossil fuel extraction and impacted by climate change, and the public deserve transparency and a rapid transition away from dirty energy from the private equity industry.”
SG Voice shared the findings of the scorecard report, sharing how the “lack of disclosure regulation limits transparency” and that “embedded energy holdings [are] not compatible with climate action.”
SG Voice had this to say about the scorecard release:
“Financial watchdogs have released a report revealing billions of dollars in undisclosed fossil fuels holdings. Weak disclosure regulation has allowed private equity firms to keep investors in the dark over where their money is being spent. The report is likely to spark further debate on regulatory measures to improve the transparency of private equity.”
In addition, the article quoted the authors of the scorecard when describing the five climate demands: “as private equity continues to operate and expand fossil fuel capacity and infrastructure, the underlying assets are highly leveraged – leading to increased risks of bankruptcy, stranded assets, and financial contagion.”
OilPrice.com: Private Equity Scoops Up Oil And Gas Assets
OilPrice.com was surprised by large amount of oil and gas assets PE firms have in their portfolios, stating, “Another surprising find: the 10 largest private equity funds have 80% of their energy investments in fossil fuels.”
In addition, the publication was spot on when talking about the problem of transparency in PE firms and their investments.
“Meanwhile, there’s an issue of accountability. Whereas banks and oil firms are accountable to their shareholders and to the public, private equity firms are only accountable to their limited partners. PE firms raise and manage investment funds on behalf of large investors, including public pension plans thus making them more resistant to public criticism.”
The article quoted the report directly as well in its call to align the PE industry with recommended climate targets. “The billions of dollars private equity firms have deployed to drill, frack, transport, store, refine fossil fuels and generate energy, stand in stark contrast to what climate scientists and international policymakers have called upon to align our trajectory to the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming scenario,” states the report.
This article was reproduced in Private Equity Insights as well: Private Equity Scoops Up Oil And Gas Assets.
National Resources Defense Council: A Call to Private Equity to Increase Climate Commitments
Scorecard endorsing organization, National Resources Defense Council, wrote an analysis blog post on the new scorecard.
The NRDC said: “The report found that despite its importance to climate action, major private equity firms continue to invest heavily in fossil fuels. Private equity firms have the potential to be leaders in the financing of clean energy and the transition away from fossil fuel energy. Yet many of the largest firms not only still have major investments in fossil fuels, but they also lack public transparency about the climate impacts of their portfolios.
“And for those private equity firms that see themselves as change agents from within, it is crucial that they demonstrate this through strong climate commitments, energy transition plans and commitments to climate equity and justice for themselves and for the companies in their portfolio.”
Reclaim Finance: Private equity: fuelling climate crisis from the shadows
Reclaim Finance, a watchdog group that “strive[s] to shift the world’s largest financial institutions away from fossil fuels,” wrote about the scorecard and previous PESP study “Private Equity Propels the Climate Crisis”.
Reclaim Finance emphasized the importance of PE firms to take responsibility for their fossil fuel assets.
“As the PE industry is only expected to keep growing in the coming years, the risk that it will continue to burn fossil fuels while the rest of the world moves away from them grows exponentially. In order to combat climate change, PE firms must take their share of responsibility and stop all new financing and investment in fossil fuel companies and projects, while phasing-out their current fossil fuel activities.
“On the other hand, traditional financial institutions supporting PE firms should not simply deplore the risks that the private industry poses to climate objectives without doing anything. These banks and investors – especially those with net zero ambitions – should act at all levels and urge PE firms among their clients and investees to make a real transition away from fossil fuels.”
You can view the entire scorecard, report and climate demands by visiting PEClimateRisks.org.