FFI survey: Climate action still expected from financial companies

Nearly half of the respondents to Finance Finland’s (FFI) public opinion survey in June agreed with the claim that major Finnish investors should withdraw their investments from fossil energy sources. The number of such respondents was a few percentage points lower than in the January survey. The amount of blank or undecided answers had grown in turn.

Young people, women and seniors were generally more opposed to fossil investment. Among the respondents aged 18 to 29 years, 54% either fully or partially agreed that major investors should withdraw their investments from fossil energy sources. In the age group of 50–59, only 41% held the same view. All age groups considered, the total amount of respondents who disagreed with the claim sank by 6 percentage points, while the number of neutral and “don’t know” answers grew compared to the survey conducted in January.

“It is critical for major investors, in particular, to avoid the deceptive short-term perspective: investments in fossil energy sources can no longer be expected to yield long-term returns”, says Elina Kamppi, head of sustainability at FFI.

Younger investors more perseverant

The younger investors have longer investment horizons. In age groups 18–29 and 30–39, more than 65% were willing to sacrifice short-term returns in favour of better returns in the long term. Several studies have revealed that the long-term returns of sustainable investments are not weaker than those of any other investments. Neither is sustainable investing more expensive than traditional investing.

Of all respondents, 52% were willing to wait for better returns in, for example, ten years’ time.

Younger investors are also interested in impact investing, in which the investment’s targets include beneficial sustainable impact alongside financial return. Among the respondents aged 18 to 29 years, 53% were in favour of the idea.

Carbon-free pensions

Pension companies, who are also major global investors, are at the forefront of climate action. The FFI survey asked whether employee pension providers should withdraw their investments from fossil energy sources. Half of the respondents either fully or partially agreed with this.

In 2017, WWF analysed large European asset owners’ investments in renewable energy sources, coal power and coal mining. The top 5 best performing investors in the report comprised the Finnish companies Elo, Ilmarinen and Varma, together with the public sector pension provider Keva and the State Pension Fund of Finland.

“It looks like pension companies are even one step ahead of the public opinion when it comes to fossil investment”, Kamppi says.

Nearly half of the respondents also agreed that banks should assess the climate impact of the target project when making loan decisions. Climate change shakes the whole society and affects the operations of companies in an unprecedented way.

“The financial companies financing these businesses should consider climate change as one of the key elements in risk management”, Kamppi sums up.

The public opinion survey was commissioned by FFI and undertaken by Norstat Finland in early June. The respondents included 1,010 Finns aged between 18 and 84. Quotas for the respondents were set in relation to the population of Finland in terms of gender, age, and place of residence.