Three Japanese insurance companies joined the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, adding a combined US$1.4 trillion to total assets under management (AUM) and total membership of 53.

Japan’s Nippon Life, Sumitomo Life, and Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance announced their membership, committing to net-zero portfolios by 2050 and establishing interim targets every five years in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C. This represents a rapid growth in asset owners leading by example.

The news comes ahead of the launch of the inaugural Progress Report on Wednesday 20th October and the Net Zero Future: Credible Ambition and Solutions Roundtable with Selwin Hart, Special Adviser and Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action at UN, and Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions.

The Progress Report, which includes individual Alliance members’ 2025 targets, will be a stake in the ground ahead of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow next month.

The Alliance has grown in just two years from 12 founding members managing US$2.4 trillion to a membership of 52 asset owners, collectively managing nearly US$9 trillion in assets.

The three new Japanese insurance companies joining the Alliance come after Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company joined in March, marking a significant expansion into Japan. The Alliance welcomed its first Africa-based member last month, when African Risk Capacity Ltd, a specialized agency of the African Union, joined.

Akiko Osawa, Chief Investment Officer, Nippon Life Insurance Company, said:

“Nippon Life has put emphasis on engagement with investee companies over the course of decades and built trust in the relationship. The pathways to carbon neutrality vary depending on each country, region, industry, and company. Through the long-term patient engagement based on trust in the relationship with investees in various situations, we boost their efforts toward decarbonization and aim to meet our net-zero target by 2050.We feel very encouraged to work on these ambitious and tenacious initiatives together with the Alliance members.”

Iwao Matsumoto, CIO at Sumitomo Life Insurance Company said:

“Sumitomo Life is delighted to join the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. As a responsible asset owner, we are committed to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 and regularly reporting on progress. Our efforts to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society will be intensified by joining the Alliance, and it is a great pleasure to work together with other asset owners.”

Masao Aratani, Director, Deputy President Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company said:

We strongly believe that we can enhance to work on ESG issues with a global network and gather information by joining the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. This initiative enables us to contribute to the promotion of information disclosure globally and reduce greenhouse gas. In addition, we also believe that this commitment will contribute to the advancement of our responsible investment framework and correspondence for the achievement of our goal to net-zero CO2 emissions in our investment portfolio by 2050.”