UK: The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) has called on European building materials companies to take steps to fight climate change or face commercial extinction. Recommended changes from its new ‘Investor Expectations of Companies in the Construction Materials Sector’ report have been sent to the heads of LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement, CRH and Saint-Gobain. The report informs investor engagement with other construction material firms on the initiative’s global list of 161 focus companies. Investment bodies in the group represent US$2Tn in assets, assets under management and under advice.

“The cement sector needs to dramatically reduce the contribution it makes to climate change. Delaying or avoiding this challenge is not an option. This is ultimately a business-critical issue for the sector,” said Stephanie Pfeifer, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the IIGCC. “Major economies such as the UK and France are increasingly adopting economy-wide net zero emission targets. The cement sector needs to get ahead of the profound transformation their sector faces by addressing barriers to decarbonisation in the short- to medium-term if companies are to secure their future.”

Key details set out in the ‘Investor Expectations’ report include becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Companies are expected to set short, medium and long-term science-based targets to reach this goal. Building material companies should be public policy transparent and advocate for the Paris Agreement, they should implement a ‘strong’ governance framework assigning specific responsibility for climate change to a board committee or board member and they should provide enhanced corporate disclosure in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

The IIGCC recognised the steps HeidelbergCement in particular has taken in already having committed to meeting key aspects of the investor expectations it has outlined. CRH, LafargeHolcim and Saint-Gobain have been encouraged to follow suit, given the ‘significant’ role they play as European-based multinationals. The group also praised the ambitious targets set by India’s Dalmia Cement to become carbon negative by 2040.