New Forests has committed to become a carbon-neutral business under a new climate action plan.
The A$5.9bn Sydney-based forestry manager – which owns nearly 1m hectares of forestry and conservation investments across the Asia-Pacific region and the US – also published its first climate disclosure report, documenting its efforts to align with Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations.
“New Forests’ vision is for forestry to become a leading sector in the transition to a sustainable future,” the report said, noting “deep connections” between the forestry sector and climate change.
It said sustainable forestry and natural climate solutions were both essential to any climate mitigation pathway that could achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The report also said the world’s forests faced real and rising physical risks from climate change. But there were also specific opportunities arising from climate finance and the need to invest in mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, it added.
As part of New Forests’ climate risk and strategy work plan, the company committed to integrating TCFD recommendations into asset management.
During the 2020 financial year, New Forests initiated pilot research focussed on its Australia-New Zealand investment programme, which includes three active funds and co-investments.
The report said: “Results from the pilot will be reviewed to inform improvements and the roll-out of TCFD integration in all investment programmes.”
New Forests’ CEO, David Brand, said the company’s motivation for using TCFD was firstly because, as stewards of real assets, it had a duty to its clients to manage and disclose the climate-related risks of their investments.
Brand said: “TCFD gives us a comprehensive framework to consider how we can be resilient in a changing world.”
The firm sees a role for its climate efforts to be part of a broader movement that accelerates investment into natural climate solutions and the circular bio-economy.
Under its climate action plan, New Forests aims to make its business climate-neutral business from this year, making it net neutral in its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a business.
The manager intends to collaboratively ensure that forestry is recognised as a climate solution.
It has undertaken to demonstrate investable pathways to transition the forestry sector from a net GHG emission source to a source of net carbon removals.
To deliver this goal, New Forests will address the challenge of shifting from the sector’s historical emissions profile of 24% of global emissions (for forestry and land use combined) to one where forestry and land use contribute 30% or more of all climate mitigation by 2030.
“While we are proud to ‘walk the talk’ by formally pursuing climate neutrality as a business, the true impact of our climate action plan lies in collaborative engagement on forestry solutions,” said MaryKate Bullen, New Forests’ director of sustainability and communications.
“Ultimately, the outcome of our roadmap will be the pursuit of a science-based target for our investment portfolio, showing how forestry can help investors achieve their broader net-zero GHG targets.”