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Aligning index-linked investing with the ‘Paris’ goals

In this article:

    More and more, investors in index-linked strategies are looking for portfolios of companies reducing their carbon footprint and avoiding companies with fossil fuel revenues or production. In accordance with EU aims for sustainable finance, strategies are now being adjusted to two new indices that are aligned with the ‘Paris’ goals. Isabelle Bourcier explains.*

    First, let’s look at the European Union’s role in promoting the fight against global warming

    The EU’s has set a goal for carbon neutrality by 2050 and it is about to enshrine this into law. In addition, there are three medium-term objectives that the EU aims to ratchet up so that they reflect the new ambitions (in brackets the proposed new targets):

    • A 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Europe compared to their 1990 level (50%)
    • An increase in the share of renewable energy to at least 32% (40%)
    • An improvement in energy efficiency of 32.5%. (40%)

    To achieve this would require between EUR 175 billion and EUR 290 billion per year. The public and private sectors must therefore be mobilised, including the financial sector.

    The Technical Experts Group on Sustainable Finance[1] set up by the European Commission in 2018 presented new proposals in March 2020. They related in particular to the EU sustainable taxonomy and the creation of two new indices that are aligned with the objectives of the Paris agreement and EU´s carbon neutrality goal and help deal with the risk of greenwashing.

    What are the characteristics of the new indices?

    The Climate Transition Benchmark and the Paris Aligned Benchmark are pursuing a similar objective. However, the PAB is designed for more ambitious investment strategies and has stricter fossil fuel related exclusions. The CTB aims to reduce the carbon footprint by around 30% relative to its investment universe and the PAB by 50%.

    Both provide for a mechanism to reduce the portfolio’s carbon footprint further, by at least 7% a year. This is in line with the IPCC’s[2] 1.5-degree trajectory, and in turn in line with the EU’s carbon neutrality goal.

    To do this, the definition of the indices assumes keeping an exposure to sectors that are highly exposed to climate change at least equal to that of the reference universe.

    How do the efforts on the PAB fit with our overall stance on sustainable investing?

    BNP Paribas Asset Management has a long-standing commitment to environmental themes and more generally to ESG[6] investing.

    For several years, we have taken into account the wishes of clients to invest in index-linked strategies that reduce the carbon footprint of portfolios and/or are not exposed to companies whose revenues or production are derived primarily from fossil fuels.

    Many investors have said they want to disinvest from fossil fuels and specifically coal.

    As we work to integrate ESG criteria fully into our range, it will be aligned more and more with investor requirements.

    *This article is based on an interview with Isabelle Bourcier, head of quantitative and index management, published on

    Please note that articles may contain technical language. For this reason, they may not be suitable for readers without professional investment experience. Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. This document does not constitute investment advice. The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns. Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions). Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.

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