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Héléna Charrier : “Dialogue is the first lever of decarbonisation for investments in the companies financed”

According to Héléna Charrier, director of responsible investment projects at Caisse des Dépôts, Caisse des Dépôts and its subsidiary Bpifrance also want to support the decarbonisation of their investment portfolios in unlisted companies...

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

In 2015, Caisse des Dépôts set a goal of reducing the carbon footprint of its portfolios, where are you today? What are your new goals in this area ?

This goal is far exceeded today. Set at -20% between 2014-2020 for listed equity and bond portfolios, the reduction reached respectively -37% and -54%. Caisse des Dépôts has also defined a policy for managing its real estate portfolio, which should enable it to reduce primary energy consumption by 38% by 2030, and has already reached almost half of this target. Caisse des Dépôts and its subsidiary Bpifrance also want to support the decarbonisation of their investment portfolios in unlisted companies, by supporting the commitment of the private equity industry, called IC20, led by France Invest.

What are your methods to reduce the carbon footprint of your portfolios ?

Dialogue is the first lever of decarbonisation for investments in the companies financed, because the objective is above all to accompany them towards an increased climate performance. If, despite this dialogue, the companies held do not themselves define ambitious emissions targets and have a clear strategy to achieve them, then Caisse des Dépôts can use other levers: voting on specific resolution, divestment of most exposed stocks and bonds. In real estate, the decline in energy consumption is achieved by combining new high-performance investments, thermal rehabilitation of the portfolio, and disposal of the worst performers.

In particular, do you envisage a definitive exit from coal, as did the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund ?

This exit has been effective since 2015. It is triggered, for listed shares and bonds, when companies generate more than 10% of their turnover from an activity exposed to thermal coal. This threshold, which is one of the strictest, was previously 20% and was lowered at the end of 2018 to continue a disengagement path, of course permanent. It is now also applied to new investments in private equity funds. For infrastructures, the group does not invest in any development of new capacities.

Beyond the reduction of the carbon footprint, and more generally in the case of SRI investments or integrating ESG factors, do you have an active policy on these subjects ?

All our investment policies, approved by our governance bodies, are include principles of responsible investment. They are specified in the Group’s Responsible Investment Charter and its specific policies in terms of governance, climate, and tax havens. It is based on the combination of three approaches that apply to 100% of Caisse des Dépôts’ financial investments: ESG integration in the analysis, selection and monitoring of assets, shareholder engagement on these ESG issues, and a number of normative and sectoral exclusions, such as thermal coal and tobacco.

What percentage of your assets is invested today according to this approach? % in shares? % in Bonds? % Others ?

The € 150 billion of financial investments of Caisse des Dépôts are covered by the RI process.
Since 2009, we use a indicator which enable to monitor more precisely the implementation of our Charter by all of the Group’s various investment teams, the results of which we disclose by asset class in our annual report.

What are the latest ESG / SRI topics that are of most interest to you? ESG ETFs? Green Bonds? Green real assets ?

Beyond the development of specific products analyzed with interest by our investment teams, we carefully monitor peer developments in integration, engagement, exclusion, and transparency to identify best policies and practices, as well as our potential for progress. At present, we are interested in assessing our contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which we wish to strengthen.

RF , January 2019

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

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