Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has appointed Anna Murray to lead its portfolio-wide net-zero strategy and manage its C$5 billion ($3.7 billion; €3.5 billion) climate impact pool. Murray was previously global head of ESG at Sun Life Capital and is co-chair of the PRI’s real estate advisory committee. She replaces Deborah Ng, who was head of responsible investing at OTPP before joining asset manager GMO as head of ESG and sustainability in June.
Murray’s role will involve overseeing many different aspects of sustainable investing at OTPP: a statement from the pension fund describes her responsibilities as leading OTPP’s net-zero efforts, integrating ESG risks and opportunities in the fund’s investment process, delivering OTPP’s climate impact targets and overseeing its stewardship activities for listed markets.
The fund has “has a team of 13 with expertise in climate change, responsible investing and corporate governance”, a spokesperson told New Private Markets via email, but it is not clear whether Murray will manage this team.
OTPP set a net-zero 2050 target for its portfolio in January 2021 and has since committed to reduce its portfolio’s carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2025 and 67 percent by 2030 against a 2019 baseline. The pension fund has C$242.5 billion in assets, of which 49 percent is allocated to private markets.
OTPP has said it will remain an “active and engaged” investor in fossil fuel-related assets. “Although the economic relevance of fossil fuels is declining, they remain an essential part of the global economy and fulfilling the world’s energy needs,” OTPP says in a separate statement on its climate change policy.
“We believe retaining a seat at the table is better than walking away. We can help reduce emissions if we remain active and engaged investors who push our companies to set credible transition plans and demonstrate progress towards these goals. Our involvement may help accelerate a company’s transition.”
In line with this “engage and accelerate” approach, the pension has created a C$5 billion capital pool for private markets investments in high-carbon industries “with the goal of helping them decarbonise faster”, OTPP announced in a report earlier this year. Such industries include power generation, heavy industry, mining and transportation, a spokesperson told New Private Markets in September.
Commitments from this pool could be in private equity, private debt, infrastructure or real estate, and could be direct investments or via pooled funds and external managers – but OTPP has expressed a longstanding preference for direct private equity investment over pooled fund investments, as affiliate publication Buyouts reported earlier this year (registration required).
Murray’s appointment comes as several Canadian public pension funds are tooling up for sustainable investing. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board promoted Richard Manley to chief sustainability officer in November. Manley replaced Deborah Orida, who became chief executive officer for PSP Investments in August. CDPQ’s Marc-André Blanchard, who has been head of CDPQ global since 2020, was also made global head of sustainability for the fund in February.