Tobacco Free Portfolios Celebrate 5th Anniv. of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge
Tobacco Free Portfolios recently celebrated the 5-year anniversary of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge at a high-level side event at UN Headquarters in September 2023, on the sidelines of the 2023 UN General Assembly. The event was proudly co-sponsored by the governments of France, The Netherlands and Jamaica, and supported by the United Nations’ Environment Program Finance Initiative, the UN supported Principles for Responsible Investment and the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.
The theme for the side event is ‘There’s No Room for Tobacco in a Net Zero World’ on account of Big Tobacco’s outsized negative impact on both people and the planet. Global health, finance and diplomatic leaders will celebrate the progress of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge. There are now 200+ leading financial institutions, from more than 20 countries, with >US$16 trillion combined assets under management that are Signatories to the Pledge. Recent notable Pledge Signatories include France’s Société Générale; Australia’s Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ANZ; and AIMCo, one of Canada’s largest pension plans.
Given worldwide focus on Net Zero ambitions combined with tobacco’s alarming environmental impacts, Tobacco Free Portfolios encourages investors to embed ‘tobacco-free’ into Net Zero strategies. To illustrate the rationale, cigarette filters, made from cellulose acetate, are the most littered item on the planet and a top contributor to ocean plastic waste. It’s also estimated that the production of tobacco leads to ~5% of global deforestation and results in vast carbon emissions.
Prof Bronwyn King, CEO, Tobacco Free Portfolios
“The past five years has seen the rapid mainstreaming and acceleration of sustainability efforts, along with a rise in greenwashing allegations. The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge speaks to authentic sustainability commitments, that recognize the crucial role of finance in the global transition to a Net Zero future.”
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
“Every dollar invested in a tobacco company is an investment in death and disease. We must fight tobacco on every front – in kiosks, on billboards, in the courts – and on the financial markets.”
Minister Aurélien Rousseau, Minister of Health and Prevention, France
“It is my conviction that the environmental dimension constitutes one of the key pillars in the fight against smoking. This is clearly the case with disposable electronic cigarettes, which we plan to ban from sale in France. Highly popular with young people, they are a rapid route to nicotine addiction. Besides, their components, particularly the lithium batteries, are totally at odds with our objectives in the fight against pollution.”
Mrs. Marjolijn Sonnema, Director General for Public Health, The Netherlands
“The mission of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge is more critical than ever, especially in light of the rising vaping epidemic among youth. The Netherlands stands ready as an important partner, to work towards a sustainable healthy future.”
Dr. The Hon Minister Christopher Tufton MP, Minister of Health and Wellness, Jamaica
“Jamaica remains committed to investing in tobacco control, for the protection of human health as well as the health of the environment. The 15-year period return on investment for tobacco interventions show that for every dollar invested in tobacco control in Jamaica, one can expect to see 5.37 Jamaican dollars return. We are keen to solidify those gains. Jamaica also encourages the continued engagement and partnership of players from the finance sector in supporting the transition to a net zero world in which tobacco has no place.”
Mr. Jean-Yves Fillion, Vice-Chair BNP Paribas, USA
“BNP Paribas is proud to be a Founding Signatory of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, which is now successfully celebrating its fifth year. Beyond the health implications, a tobacco-free world is instrumental to abate healthcare costs and global environmental harm.”
Mr. Stéphane About, CEO Société Générale, USA
“The concepts of responsibility and sustainability are at the core of our strategy. Being a signatory of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and supporting this event are symbolic of our commitment to improving the health of the people on this planet, as well as the health of the planet itself.”
Mr. Shayne Elliot, CEO ANZ
“ANZ acknowledges the important role that financial institutions can play in addressing global health priorities, including the harmful impacts of tobacco products. For this reason, ANZ is proud to sign the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and pleased to offer our continued support to this important initiative.”
Attorney General Rob Bonta, Attorney General of the State of California
“The dangers of smoking to both people and our environment are undeniable. Thanks to initiatives like the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, we’re helping to mitigate those dangers around the world by better deploying the power of investments. There’s still progress we need to make, and as Attorney General of the state with the fifth largest economy in the world, I look forward to continuing to help in any way that I can.”
Mr. David Atkin, CEO, Principles for Responsible Investment
“At PRI we’re proud to support the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and to see the strong progress the initiative has made over the past five years, with more than 200 financial institutions becoming signatories. As an issue that spans both the social and environmental spectrum, the role investors can play is clear as is the realization that a net-zero future must also be one that is tobacco-free.”
Ms. Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
“The tobacco industry has caused immeasurable damage to the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, as well as the environment. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is proud to work with Tobacco Free Portfolios and other partners to hold the industry accountable and end the enormous harm it causes.”
Rev. Horace L. Sheffield III, Executive Director of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations & Pastor at New Destiny Christian Fellowship Church
“With 8 million tobacco-related deaths per year, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that tobacco companies have been causing devastating harm to people and the environment for far too long. It is time for the community to recognize the grave consequences of tobacco and take action toward divesting from this industry. We need to unequivocally say that there is no room for tobacco in this vision of a net-zero world.”
About Tobacco Free Portfolios
Tobacco Free Portfolios is a not-for-profit organization that encourages financial institutions to reflect on and reconsider commercial relationships with the tobacco industry in light of the alarming impact of tobacco on people and the planet. The organization’s flagship initiative, the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, launched in 2018 at United Nations’ Headquarters and currently has 200+ signatories, representing >US$16 Trillion in AUM committed to tobacco-free finance. Our aim is to create a tobacco-free future.
Tobacco Free Portfolios Foundation
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