Investing for a sustainable future

Exploring solutions to balance environmental and societal benefits

We are committed to power a just and green transition to secure a sustainable future through our investment offering, but we can do more to tackle the effects of climate change and make a positive impact to society. It is our responsibility to explore solutions to balance social, environmental and economic collective action, to drive the shift towards net-zero emissions and overcome the world’s sustainability problems. But some of the solutions do not exist today, and we believe that with our investment through awards, grants or donations to scientific and academic research, we can help to find or accelerate these solutions.

Partnering with institutions to support a just and green transition

We build partnerships to support a just and green transition, including the CFA Institute with the sponsorship of their Young Women in Investment Program, and the AXA Research Fund and Paris School of Economics with the launch of a new Research Chair: “For a successful Energy transition”. In September 2021, we launched our first research award in partnership with AXA Research Fund, and Dr. Floor van der Hilst was our Climate Transition Award winner.

AXA IM Climate Transition award 2021

Meet Dr. Floor van der Hilst, our research award winner

Hear from Dr. Floor van der Hilst about her research on the sustainability of bioenergy, and why we granted her €100,000 to fund this important research.

Read the press release which announced the winner.

Understand more about Dr. Floor van der Hilst's research with these essential facts about biomass energy

Bioenergy is energy produced from renewable, biological sources such as biomass. Biomass is plant material that can be turned into fuel to supply heat and electricity. In Dr Floor van der Hilst’s research, she examines the sustainability of creating bioenergy from biomass. Learn more about the topic with our essential facts.

What is biomass?

Biomass is used to describe a range of crops and residues that can be processed into biofuel including wood, sawdust, sugarcane, sugarbeet, used cooking oil and even manure. There are solid, liquid and gas versions of biofuels, examples being wood pellets, bioethanol and biogas. They are an important part of the global energy transition to a low carbon future.

Are biofuels from biomass more sustainable than fossil fuels?

Biofuels are classified as a form of renewable energy but there is ongoing debate around which feedstocks are the most sustainable when viewed holistically. Liquid biofuels can provide an 80% emissions reduction in aviation, heavy freight, and shipping1 in comparison to burning fossil fuels. But overall the sustainability of different biomass feedstocks is the subject of ongoing debate. There are two elements of sustainability to consider – the environmental impacts of production and emissions from use on global warning and biodiversity loss and also how production can impact local communities.

Is demand for biomass growing?

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), bioenergy accounts for roughly one-tenth of the world’s total primary energy supply today. The global biomass power market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.2% from 2020 to 2027 to reach USD 98,055.1 million by 2027.2 Solid biomass accounted for the largest market revenue share of 79.1% in 2020.3 Internationally, government organisations are putting emphasis on using biomass for electricity production as a part of their energy efficiency strategies.

Do we have enough land to grow fuel and food?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), per se, biofuels are neither good nor bad. What matters is the way they are managed when it comes to redirection of land use and the impact on food prices for local people. Biofuels should be viewed as another opportunity for responsible investment in sustainable agriculture, rural development and bioeconomy.

What’s the outlook?

Biomass markets hugely benefit from regulation. In 2020, Europe accounted for 40.3% of biomass market share thanks to favourable environmental regulations, the highest of all global regions. 4 There’s a big lobbying effort underway to stop the European Union treating the burning of biomass as carbon neutral in its renewable energy standards and in its emissions trading system. 40,000 Europeans and 500 scientists signed a petition against the burning of forests and food for energy in 2021.

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ESG Research

Carbon Capture and Storage: Hiding dirt under the rug or a real clean up?

There is a funding gap of 125 trillion dollars (source: https://climatechampions.unfccc.int) required for a successful transition to net zero. That is a huge gap of funding, investment, expertise and ideas that needs plugged. Here, our Head of Climate, Oliver Eugene explores another solution on the table.

Read the ESG research paper