Assessing Sovereign Climate-Related Opportunities and Risks (ASCOR) is the first, public investor framework to assess sovereign bond issuers on climate change.
- ASCOR has been a collaboration by asset owners and asset managers, supported by international investor networks, to incorporate financially material climate change information when assessing sovereign bond investments.
- The final framework will result in an independent, freely, and publicly available assessment tool intended to support investors achieve their net zero goals; help them engaging with issuers to find a common understanding of the transition at a national level, as well as giving the opportunity to sovereigns to showcase their progress in addressing climate change.
- ASCOR has woven the principles of fairness into the framework with the aim of encouraging financial flows to support a resilient and just low-carbon transition, especially in countries that are least able to finance it themselves.
- The framework has been developed in collaboration with the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) Global Climate Transition Centre based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Chronos Sustainability.
- Today marks the launch of a public consultation with feedback from relevant stakeholders by 31st March 2023.
The framework sets out a common basis to assess individual country climate change approaches and will reinforce public disclosures to aid investors to understand sovereign action and progress. It builds on existing data but will also further enable issuers to detail material information, so that investors can more effectively support country transition plans.
For example, the framework will focus on country sustainable finance plans, policies and transition requirements both in terms of mitigating climate change as well as building resilience to climate impacts. Investors are being increasingly required by many regulators to demonstrate an understanding of climate risks and opportunities through their own Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure reporting and net zero commitments. This tool will assist in their communication needs and in shaping improved sovereign debt analysis.
Today, ASCOR publishes a Consultation Report which is available on www.ascorproject.org. Feedback from all relevant stakeholders, including sovereign bond issuers, development finance institutions, investors, civil society and the wider public is welcome. To submit confidential feedback, please complete this survey by 31 March 2023.
Victoria Barron, ASCOR Co-Chair and Head of Sustainable Investment, BT Pension Scheme Management said:
“After an unprecedented, global collaboration between international investors, we are launching the first version of the ASCOR framework and consultation today. There is an analysis dearth where investors do not have information on the climate risks and opportunities of sovereign issuers, and sovereign issuers are not clear on what information investors are seeking. This is leading to unfair extrapolations or missed investment opportunities. By translating the complexity of climate risk assessment into clear, assessable metrics that tie to long-term economic drivers, ASCOR is putting climate change at the heart of sovereign investment decision-making.”
Adam Matthews, ASCOR Co-Chair and Chief Responsible Investment Officer for the Church of England Pensions Board said:
“Through this framework, we are putting in place a vital part of the financial architecture necessary to unlock the private finance flows governments need to achieve their national climate ambitions. The framework provides clarity about the public disclosures investors require to play their part in supporting the transition.”
Additional quotes from investor networks and fund managers
Carmen Nuzzo, Head of Fixed Income, PRI and Co-chair of ASCOR’s Climate Policy and Funding Working Groups said:
“ASCOR is the first tool allowing investors and sovereign issuers to sing from the same hymn sheet on climate change. It is the fruit of a major collaborative effort which, if now sustained by broad adoption, can turn ASCOR into ‘the’ industry reference framework for sovereign debt investors and issuers. It is a unique opportunity for both audiences to coalesce around a final unified tool, thereby delivering increased consistency across sector practices.”
Claudia Gollmeier, Managing Director (Singapore) & Senior Investment Officer, Colchester Global Investors and Co-Chair of ASCOR’s Climate Funding Working Group said:
“The ASCOR project aims to fill a data gap on sovereign climate change, intending to provide investors with decision-useful information, whilst allowing sovereign issuers to showcase their progress. It’s been a pleasure to work collaboratively with many stakeholders globally in developing this timely and required common approach.”
Esther Law, Senior Investment Manager EM Debt, Amundi Asset Management and Co-chair of ASCOR’s Climate Funding Working Group, said:
“By engaging investors, sovereign issuers and academic experts, ASCOR has developed a comprehensive and valuable framework for better understanding sovereign exposure to climate risk, as we accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. I feel privileged to have contributed to such a much-needed endeavour.”
David Zahn, Head of European Fixed Income and Co-Head of the Stewardship and Sustainability Council at Franklin Templeton said:
“Climate change analysis of sovereign bonds is a familiar and complex challenge for investors who seek to obtain consistent and reliable data across different countries and income levels. We believe the launch of ASCOR Project’s new assessment framework designed to assess sovereign bond issuers on climate change is a great step in the right direction for investors. This will enhance collaboration and improve investors’ knowledge of the climate-related risks impacting different countries which we believe will result in stronger engagement with countries to create favourable outcomes for portfolios as well as the world.”
Udo Riese, Co-lead of UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification track (2020-2022) and member of the ASCOR Steering Committee, Head of Sustainable Investing in Allianz Investment Management SE, said:
“Sovereigns’ decisions on climate change are central for the just transition and for limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C. To make informed decisions on sovereign debt, investors require transparency and comparability on climate-related actions of sovereigns. Results of the ASCOR project deliver on this by providing information spanning from sovereigns’ NDCs and their energy policies to fairness considerations between developed and developing countries. I am deeply convinced that the results of the ASCOR project will have a significant impact on investors’ capital allocation in the mid to long-term.”
Stephanie Pfeifer, CEO, IIGCC and ASCOR Steering Committee member, said:
“The ASCOR Project has made considerable progress to date with the launch of today’s consultation another significant milestone. With IIGCC supporting from the start, the progress is testament to the international collaboration of asset owners, asset managers and investor networks coming together to tackle a shared challenge. Beyond the consultation, we look forward to the framework being useful to investors to assess sovereign bonds as part of their overall approach towards climate change and for those with net zero commitments.”
Peter Ellsworth, Senior Director, Ceres, said:
“The climate-related policies and practices of national governments are essential to ensuring that average global temperature rise does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Of the more than 400 investors that have made commitments to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, many have significant investments in sovereign debt. The ASCOR framework and data tool will better enable investors and other stakeholders to assess the climate actions being taken by sovereigns. ASCOR will also provide investors with a clearer structure for engaging governments about the policies and plans for achieving their national climate goals.”
Notes to Editors
The Assessing Sovereign Climate-related Opportunities and Risks (ASCOR) Project was founded in October 2021 after some of the participating investors had set net zero goals, and the investor networks who were supporting them realised they were struggling to effectively incorporate climate change information when investing in sovereign debt instruments. Following a series of discussions with various stakeholders, an agreement was made to collaborate on a significant and international scale to create a fair, independent, academically rigorous, and opensource tool which could be used by all.
ASCOR tool indicators
The ASCOR tool is a framework of indicators that will be accompanied by a long-term database of country assessments, transparently presenting the progress made by governments on managing the low-carbon transition and the impacts of climate change.
The framework is founded on three pillars:
1. Emission pathways
2. Climate policies
3. Opportunities to finance the transition.
While the first two pillars inform investors about the effectiveness and performance of sovereigns in managing climate change, the third pillar, in contrast, sets out the landscape of climate risks and opportunities that countries face. The ASCOR tool will provide a comprehensive framework and rigorous country assessments, but it will be for individual investors to decide how to use this information.
Once consultation feedback is compiled and reviewed, a report summarising results and an explanation of how feedback will be integrated will be published. ASCOR will then use the new framework to reassess the 25 pilot countries and engage with respective governments on the data, sources and ASCOR’s interpretations of their targets and policies. The free online ASCOR tool will be published by the end of 2023 and updated annually thereafter.
The Assessing Sovereign Climate-related Opportunities and Risks (ASCOR) Project is led by asset owners, asset managers and investor networks. ASCOR is co-chaired by Victoria Barron, BT Pension Scheme Management, and Adam Matthews, Church of England Pensions Board. ASCOR was established with the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (AOA), Ceres, the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and Sura Asset Management, who are all part of ASCOR’s Steering Committee. The project is supported by Chronos Sustainability. ASCOR’s academic partner is the TPI Global Climate Transition Centre, based at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE.
The ASCOR Advisory Committee, who are among the funders and technical contributors of the current stage of the project, is composed of the Steering Committee members and investment representatives from Aktia Bank, Allspring Global Investments, Amundi Asset Management, Colchester Global Investors, Franklin Templeton, MFS Investment Management, and Ninety One.
Additional partners to the project include the investor networks Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) and Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC).
For further information
Gian Marco Candolo
Account Manager, H/Advisors Cicero