Toronto-based global financial services provider Manulife announced a new sustainable investing goal, aiming to eliminate 80% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its rela estate portfolio by 2050. The new commitment was announced with the release of the company’s 2021 Real Estate Sustainability report.

Manulife’s targeted reduction goal is one part of the company’s global Climate Action Plan. Last month, Manulife launched a series of commitments aimed at achieving a net zero transition, encompassing the company’s operations and investments as well as its products and services. The company has also pledged a 35% reduction of Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035, aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Steve Blewitt, Global Head of Private Markets at Manulife, said:

“We are very proud of this responsible move, which represents a step forward in our commitment to climate change mitigation and our role in the transition to a healthier planet. Manulife Investment Management’s real estate team has been measuring and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions in our sustainability reports since 2017. Setting this realistic target demonstrates our commitment to holding ourselves accountable and achieving high standards across climate-related considerations.”

Buildings and real estate are significant contributors to the global climate challenge, accounting for approximately 40% of carbon emissions, according to the International Energy Agency and UN Environment Programme. They are also among the hardest to sources of emissions to replace, given their long-term nature. To show effort in reducing carbon emissions, Manulife has started several initiatives, including detailed carbon retrofit research at its buildings and updating the leasing process, with a bigger focus on sustainability.

Manulife’s strategic approach is based on four pillars that include efficiency measures, fuel switching, onsite renewables and storage, and carbon offsets and Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs).  To support the different initiatives, Manulife is identifying regional and asset-level opportunities where energy emissions can be reduced.

Regan Smith, Global Head of Real Estate Sustainability, said:

“Our approach to sustainability in real estate incorporates ESG considerations into all our practices and investment management. Through carbon emission reduction, Manulife Investment Management aims to be a key player in the transition to a low carbon economy, It is with that in mind that we designed a strategy informed by climate science to reduce our carbon output across our real estate portfolio.”

Manulife’s initiatives follow similar moves by other major real estate investors. Earlier this year, Allianz Real Estate, one of the largest real estate investors in the world announced a new climate target, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 2025, and TIAA company Nuveen Real Estate announced the launch of a net zero carbon strategy for its entire global real estate portfolio, committing to achieve net zero carbon across its $133 billion of assets by 2040.