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Paul Williams

Paul is a UK-qualified associate director in the Employment & Compensation practice who specializes in pensions law in the UK and South Africa. He also has experience in advising on pensions law in other sub-Saharan African jurisdictions. Paul is a former president of the Pension Lawyers Association of South Africa and a former member of the Legal & Technical Committee of the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa. He is currently assisting the Pension Policy Institute with a research series into climate change and ESG investing.

In this article, we seek to answer those questions by way of a high-level comparative analysis of the extent to which the law in the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada currently promotes, or even permits, pension schemes to account for ESG factors by way of investment, stewardship and reporting. Our findings highlight significant differences in the extent to which these legal landscapes encourage and/or require pension schemes to engage with climate change.

High-polluting leaded petrol was recently eradicated from the world, eliminating what was identified as a huge threat to human health and well-being, as well as its devastating effect on nature. This is just the latest development in the Environmental, Social and Governance and climate change story, which has evolved at ferocious speed over the past two-three years and has now become a key focus for both governments and organisations alike.

In South Africa, the draft Amendments to Regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act were published by National Treasury earlier this month. These amendments will allow retirement funds to invest up to 45% of their assets in infrastructure. This is set to open a huge potential source of funding for domestic infrastructure projects, but there has been some debate around whether this will be enough to help bridge the country’s infrastructure gap.