By Nia Williams and Maiya Keidan
CALGARY, Alberta/TORONTO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (OTPP), Canada's third-largest pension fund, announced on Thursday new interim targets to cut the carbon emissions intensity of its portfolio as part of a plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
OTPP, which manages C$227.7 billion ($180.11 billion) in assets, plans to reduce emissions intensity by 45% by 2025 and 67% by 2030, from 2019 levels.
Fellow pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec also has a net-zero target by 2050, but environmental campaigners said OTPP's interim targets are the strongest climate commitment yet from a Canadian pension fund.
Ziad Hindo, OTPP's chief investment officer, said the fund would be looking to invest more in clean-energy companies, as well as firms offering software and services that allow other companies to transition to a lower carbon economy.
"Climate change permeates the entire investing landscape. Tackling it requires substantial effort and massive amounts of capital," said Hindo. He compared the climate sector today with the technology sector in the 1990s, and predicted it would cause huge disruption across every industry.
OTPP is increasing staffing across various asset classes to keep up with growing investment in the climate sector, Hindo added. The fund's portfolio currently includes more than C$30 billion in green investments such as renewable energy, energy storage, electrification, electricity transmission, energy efficiency and green real estate.
Unlike some large pension funds in the United States, OTPP is not divesting from oil and gas altogether, although it stopped actively investing in listed exploration and production companies in 2019. "OTPP will need to go further if it wants to be considered a global leader on climate," said Adam Scott, director of pension activist group Shift. "While this announcement describes how the OTPP will invest in solutions to the climate crisis, it makes no mention of how it will eliminate its exposure to the causes of it, namely high-risk fossil fuels." ($1 = 1.2642 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Maiya Keidan and Nia Williams; Editing by Peter Cooney)