TORONTO, Nov. 3, 2021 /CNW/ - Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX: SLF) (NYSE: SLF) today announced its goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 for both its investments and operations with interim targets to be announced in 2022.
"Climate change is the defining issue of our lifetime," said Kevin Strain, President and CEO of Sun Life. "Our Purpose of helping our Clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives cannot be achieved without serious action to address climate change and support a transition to a lower-carbon future. That is why we're committed to integrating climate strategies across our investment businesses and working collaboratively with our Clients, stakeholders, and the industry at large, towards this common goal."
As an asset owner, Sun Life plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its General Account, which holds funds from insurance policy premiums and is managed by SLC Management, the company's alternatives asset management firm. Sun Life's other asset management companies will also drive net-zero efforts. These companies include: MFS Investment Management (MFS), BentallGreenOak (BGO) and InfraRed Capital Partners (InfraRed) and SLGI Asset Management Inc. (SLGI Asset Management).
As part of their pledge, MFS, InfraRed, BGO and SLGI Asset Management have joined the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, an international group of asset managers committed to supporting the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.
Data management and governance, engagement, business integration and investment solutions, among other initiatives will be areas of focus. A critical aspect will be calculating financed emissions for key portfolios using cutting-edge methodologies. This includes establishing net-zero targets and building out the plans to achieve them.
Sun Life will target a 50% absolute reduction of GHG emissions in its operations by 2030, relative to 2019. This includes emissions reductions from Sun Life's offices and corporate travel.1 This new level of commitment builds upon Sun Life's previous reduction announcement stating it would work towards reducing its GHG emissions intensity by 30%. Its new target aligns with the latest science to ensure the company is doing its part to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
"While our climate strategy will continue to evolve, today's net-zero announcement is an important next step in our sustainability journey – moving the needle towards a brighter future for generations to come," said Strain.
With $1.39 trillion in AUM2 and over 42,100 employees and 140,900 advisors globally, Sun Life is positioned to have a meaningful impact on the global goals of the Paris Agreement and the critical transition to a low-carbon economy.
"Achieving net zero by 2050 means ensuring that we're taking tangible action – from our portfolios to our operations – to help limit rising global temperatures," said Alanna Boyd, Senior Vice-President and Chief Sustainability Officer. "As world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26, we are keenly aware the window of opportunity to avert the worst impacts of climate change is closing. Our concerted efforts towards this global issue, along with collaboration across our industry, will help safeguard a livable climate and improve the health and security of communities worldwide."
The company is taking action to be part of the climate solution on several fronts and in areas where it can have the most significant impact, including:
- Sustainable Investments: Sun Life has targeted an additional $20 billion in sustainable investments over the next five years across its General Account and Client investments, which are managed by SLC Management. Investments include, but are not limited to, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable buildings, clean transportation, water management, and social infrastructure projects. This commitment is on top of the $60 billion already invested in sustainable investments.
- Transparency and Reporting: The company's approach to addressing climate change also involves strengthening its transparency to allow for evaluation and reporting on potential climate change risks and opportunities. Sun Life included its first disclosures in line with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations in its 2020 Annual Management's Discussion & Analysis. TCFD disclosures support calls for a collective increase in reliable climate-related financial disclosures – an important step in ensuring greater understanding of the financial implications of climate change for greater market stability and transparency. Sun Life also annually publishes a Sustainability Report tracking its sustainability highlights, available at sunlife.com/sustainability.
- Industry Collaboration and Advocacy: The company is committed to advocacy and collaboration with governments, regulators, investors, and industry leaders to develop supportive net-zero programs and policies that pave a path towards decarbonization. For example, Sun Life is participating in a climate-risk pilot project with the Bank of Canada and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) to better understand the risks to the financial system related to a transition to a low-carbon economy. We welcome the opportunity to share our experience, develop management capabilities and help build a better understanding of potential climate risks.
- Stewardship, Engagement and Education: Sun Life is committed to engagement over divestment to ensure real emissions reductions in the economy. It works with the companies it invests in to disclose and reduce emissions, enhance data collection, and share key learnings through participation in investor-led initiatives. These initiatives aim to ensure the world's largest corporate GHG emitters take necessary action on climate change. Examples of these initiatives include, SLC Management's and MFS' membership in Climate Action 100+ and Sun Life and SLC Management's role as founding members of Climate Engagement Canada. As part of its approach of stewardship, engagement and education, Sun Life pledges to work with its Clients across all sectors through its transition to net zero.
- Governance: Sun Life believes that strong governance and clear lines of accountability will enable it to deliver on its commitments and remain accountable to its stakeholders. The Governance, Investment and Conduct Review Committee of the Board of Directors will provide oversight of Sun Life's net-zero commitment. On September 13, the company announced the appointment of its first Chief Sustainability Officer. Sun Life's Chief Sustainability Officer is accountable to ensure the company meets its sustainability commitments and advocates for strong government policies and regulations that support a lower-carbon, more inclusive economy.
- Organization: The company is actively developing its bench strength with people, data and processes it will need to advance its plans and realize net-zero targets.
Sun Life's climate action plans – with interim targets to be announced next year – will act as its road map to 2030 and set the foundation for its work to 2050. Sun Life acknowledges that although some data and technology needed to achieve net zero does not yet exist, it is the company's intention to initiate solutions – investing in new technology and working with Clients and investees to generate the data needed for decision-making.
1 Scope 1 and 2, and Scope 3 corporate travel, water and landlord-paid utility emissions at corporate offices globally Scope 1 and 2 emissions of corporate offices globally, and Scope 3 emissions resulting from the water supply and landlord-paid utility services to these offices, as well as from corporate travel, per the GHG Protocol.
2 As of September 30, 2021.
About Sun Life's Sustainability Plan
Sun Life's Sustainability Plan builds from a foundation as a trusted and responsible business. At its core is a focus on the areas where Sun Life can make the most positive social and environmental impact: increasing financial security, fostering healthier lives, and advancing sustainable investing. Sun Life's Sustainability Plan also focuses on minimizing its environmental footprint, supporting diversity, equity and inclusion, data security and privacy, governance and ethics and risk management. In 2019, Sun Life also became the first life insurance company in the world to issue a sustainability bond. To learn more about Sun Life's Sustainability Report, visit www.sunlife.com/en/sustainability/.
About Sun Life
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2021, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1.39 trillion. For more information, please visit www.sunlife.com.
Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.
In this news release, "we", "our", "us" and "Sun Life" refer to Sun Life Financial Inc. and its subsidiaries and joint ventures. Certain statements in this news release are forward-looking, including, but not limited to, statements (i) relating to our strategies, (ii) relating to our sustainable investment commitments and goal to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, (iii) that are predictive in nature or that depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, and (iv) that include words such as "achieve", "aim", "believe", "goal", "initiatives", "intend", "plan", "project", "should", "strategy", "target", "will", and similar expressions. All such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the "safe harbour provisions" of applicable Canadian securities laws and of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Except as may be required by Canadian securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this news release.
The forward-looking statements in this news release represent our current expectations, estimates and projections regarding future events as of the time of this news release and are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties and are based on key factors and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Our ability to achieve our goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 is based on a number of assumptions and is subject to a number of factors, including the availability of comprehensive and high-quality GHG emissions data, the need for active and continued participation of stakeholders (including enterprises, financial institutions and governmental and non-governmental organizations), the development and deployment of new technologies and industry-specific solutions, international cooperation, and the development of regulations internationally. Other important risk factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements in this news release are listed in the annual information form of Sun Life Financial Inc. for the year ended December 31, 2020 under the heading "Risk Factors" and other regulatory filings of ours filed or furnished to Canadian and U.S. securities regulators available at www.sedar.com and www.sec.gov, respectively.
Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars
SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.