Responsible Ownership Annual Report 2022

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are a priority for NatWest Pension Trustee Limited (Trustee) in its management of NatWest Group Pension Fund (Fund). It has been another busy period for ESG activity with considerable effort applied by the Trustee, its advisers and asset managers to seek and exploit ESG opportunities in every area of the investment programme.

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The Trustee has entered into a joint venture to build high quality net zero retirement homes across the UK. Large tracts of California forest (140,000 acres) owned by the Fund have been allocated to carbon credits. Fuel efficiency of the shipping portfolio has been increased with retro-fitted energy saving technologies. The Trustee has built an environmentally friendly 22 hectare greenhouse in Cambridgeshire which will significantly reduce food miles. The Fund’s diverse renewable energy portfolio continues to provide a stable source of alternative electricity and gas to the grid. Recycling has become a new area of focus with the acquisition of one waste to energy plant and construction of another. In the listed equity and debt portfolio, there has been a programme of engagement with 242 companies on a range of ESG issues.

The investor response to climate change has moved forward at considerable pace in the last two years. Large UK pension funds became the first organisations legally obliged to produce climate-related financial disclosures (Climate Disclosures) and the Trustee has ensured that consideration of climate-related risks and opportunities are fully integrated into its governance and investment processes. The Trustee’s first Climate Disclosures are appended to this report. The Trustee has also articulated its approach to reaching net zero in an effort to limit the impact of climate change.

The Fund has made numerous good financial investments that have had a positive impact in recent years. Now the Fund has reached “peak assets” and “peak liabilities” it is unlikely to be making new investments in real assets. As the Fund matures more credit, cash and gilts will be held. The Trustee will rely more on collaboration and engagement to influence change.

This report describes the ways in which the Trustee’s Responsible Ownership Policy (ROP) has been applied to the investment programme of the Fund during the reporting period from September 2020 to December 2021. The extended reporting period is a result of a decision taken to align timing of publication with the new Climate Disclosures.