Royal College of Physicians adopts new Climate Policy

The Royal College of Physicians will seek to encourage companies to align their businesses with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and immediately end its investment in companies which aren’t taking such action, following the adoption of a new Climate Policy.

The policy states that the RCP will:

  • Immediately disinvest from major US oil and gas companies that haven’t acted on climate change.
  • By the end of 2020, using insight from the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) or an equivalent tool, disinvest from any oil, gas or mining company that has not set emissions targets.  
  • By 2023, after engagement with those oil, gas and mining companies in which it still retains a holding and a final assessment using TPI, disinvest from any company that isn’t demonstrably on a path in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.

The Royal College of Physicians began divesting from fossil fuel companies four years ago. Its previous policy excluded investment in companies that derived more than 10% of their revenue from the production of thermal coal and tar sands. In effect, this meant that the RCP was no longer invested in these highly polluting producers.

Through its fund managers the RCP has always sought to encourage high carbon emitting companies away from fossil fuels and under its new policy it becomes a supporter of the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), which provides an independent tool developed for investors by the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute. This will allow the RCP to assess which companies in high carbon emitting sectors are aligning their business with the transition to a low carbon economy in line with the Paris agreement.

The RCP will also expect its fund managers to engage with electricity utility companies and those that drive demand for fossil fuels in high carbon intensive sectors such as automotive, aviation, cement, construction, chemicals, steel and shipping.

The new policy, which has been designed to allow any financial risk to the Royal College of Physicians as a registered charity to be effectively managed, was approved by its governing body, the Board of Trustees.

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president, said: 'Climate change will significantly impact public health in the UK and around the world and the Royal College of Physicians has an important role to play in highlighting the health impact.

'If our voice is to be effective, we must ensure that our public advocacy is consistent with our own investments. Our new Climate Policy reflects the pace of climate change and the urgent need for everything possible to be done to limit global temperature rises in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.'

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