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In Charts: Apac investors’ growing focus on climate change is a global exception

A Wall Street sign near the New York Stock Exchange
Recent political wrangling in the US has made climate an increasingly contentious subject, and just 35 per cent of US respondents said it was a significant part of their investment policy this year, down from 61 per cent in 2023 (Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

Survey by Robeco highlights waning interest in climate change investment in North America

A survey of 300 international institutional and wholesale investors has found that climate change is becoming less important to their investment strategy. 

Asset manager Robeco’s 2024 global climate investing survey asked investors based across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific: “How would you describe the importance of climate change to your organisation’s investment policy two years ago, today, and in the next two years?”

In response, 62 per cent of investors labelled climate change as a central or significant aspect of their investment policy this year, compared to 71 per cent in 2023. 

Falling enthusiasm among North American investors appears to be the biggest contributor to the overall decrease. Just 35 per cent said climate was a significant part of their investment policy this year, compared to 61 per cent in 2023.

Climate investing and broader environmental, social and governance issues have been a hot topic in the US in recent years, with political wrangling making it an increasingly contentious area of investment activity. 

Asia-Pacific investors were the exception to this year’s downward trend: 79 per cent said climate was significant for their investment this year, up from 73 per cent last year. In Europe, by contrast, the figures were 76 per cent this year, compared to 81 per cent in 2023.

In all regions, when investors were asked about their projections for the next two years, a higher percentage of investors expected climate to be an important part of their investment policies in 2025-2026 than is the case today. Globally, this reached 77 per cent.

The survey suggests this year’s dip in enthusiasm for climate investment may in part be due to a “wave of disillusionment” as the scale of the decarbonisation challenge becomes clearer to investors.

Robeco climate and biodiversity strategist Lucian Peppelenbos suggested that investors are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of what climate investing entails.

“As they get to grips with the hard work involved in the climate transition, there is less naivety, and more careful deliberation and scrutiny over what is needed to embed sustainability into the many aspects of running investment portfolios,” he said.

A significant majority of investors had no specific climate investment targets. Thirty one per cent had made no commitments, while 40 per cent said they had set a general intention, but had no specific targets.

In comparison, 30 per cent said they had set a target — but only 11 per cent had aligned it to the EU taxonomy or “another credible framework”.

Biodiversity remains an area that only a minority of investors are prioritising, the survey suggests: 36 per cent overall said it was an important part of their investment policy.

As with climate change, North American investors were the least likely to regard biodiversity as an investment priority, with just 23 per cent saying it was a central or significant aspect of their investment policy. In Asia-Pacific, 38 per cent ranked biodiversity as important, while Europe was higher than both, with 44 per cent.

In their 2025-2026 projections, a higher percentage of investors expected biodiversity to be an important part of investment policy than at present. Fifty eight per cent of investors, globally, projected biodiversity would be a central or significant aspect in the next two years.

A service from the Financial Times