VOTING AGAINST CLIMATE ACTION

Most of Australia’s biggest super funds are failing to back shareholder resolutions on climate
Take action

Do you want your super fund to use your retirement savings to help fight climate change or help fuel it?

New research by Market Forces has found the vast majority of Australia’s 50 top superannuation funds are regularly voting against climate action at company AGMs.

In 2017, these funds voted in favour of climate-related shareholder resolutions less than half the time. In fact, most of the votes in favour of climate action were cast by just four of the top 50 funds.

Chances are, your own super fund is one of those regularly voting against forcing big companies to take action to protect our climate.

We can fix this, but we need super fund members to speak out.

Market Forces has coordinated shareholder resolutions for two important upcoming AGMs on 3 May.

We’re calling on insurance company QBE to disclose how it plans to manage the glaringly obvious risks that climate change poses to its business, and for gas company Santos to agree to properly measure and reduce its methane emissions.

To succeed, these resolutions will need the backing of Australia’s biggest super funds.

Take action now. Tell your super fund it must vote in favour of climate action at these companies’ upcoming AGMs. Voting concludes within the next week so it’s critical that you write to them today.

Take action

Tell your superannuation fund to vote in favour of climate action at company AGMs.

Rhetoric vs reality

Many of Australia’s biggest super funds talk a good game on climate.

Yet Market Forces found that, in reality, only a handful of them have voted for climate-related shareholder resolutions both here and internationally.

Our research reveals the glaring hypocrisy between the super funds who claim to care about climate change and their actual voting record against companies taking action.  

Two of the starkest examples are Vic Super, which looks after the retirement savings of Victoria’s government employees, and Cbus, the construction industry super fund. Both rarely vote in favour of climate action despite their claims on paper to care for our climate.

Just four major super funds matched their climate rhetoric with evidence of regular support of demanding climate action from the companies they invest in. Two of those, HESTA and Local Government Super encouragingly voted in favour of climate-related shareholder resolutions more than 80% of the time.

However overall, only 40% of votes by the top 50 super funds on nearly 500 climate-related resolution were in favour of climate action. 

Australia’s top superannuation funds clearly have a long way to go.

Two superannuation funds dismally failing to match their climate rhetoric with their voting records are the not-for-profit VicSuper, and construction industry fund Cbus.

Both have strong public position statements on climate change, and have produced research into the carbon footprint of their portfolios. Yet both have backed shockingly few shareholder climate resolutions.

Cbus’ Climate Change Position Statement, for example, recognises the risks and opportunities climate change poses to its portfolios. Its Climate Change Fact Sheet claims the fund ‘use[s] engagement and proxy voting to influence the behaviour of the companies in which we invest.’ Yet we discovered Cbus supported just five out of the 44 climate-related resolutions it voted on during 2017.  

Similarly, VicSuper’s Climate Change Strategy recognises that the fund has ‘a role to play in engaging with the companies we invest in… to encourage positive, transformational change’. However, it also only voted in favour of just five climate-related resolutions in 2017 (out of 49), with a further 13 split votes.

With such poor voting records, it’s hard to take seriously Cbus and VicSuper’s commitment to pressure companies to protect our climate and act in their members’ best interests.

No transparency

Almost as disappointing as the failure to back shareholder action to protect our climate is the ongoing and widespread lack of transparency by Australia’s biggest super funds when it comes to disclosing how they have voted on climate resolutions across their multi-billion dollar investment portfolios.

Eight years after the Cooper Review into the superannuation system recommended that APRA-regulated super funds disclose their voting behaviour to members on their websites, it seems little has improved.

Our research found that 36 of Australia’s top 50 funds don’t publish their full proxy voting record online or on-time as recommended by the Cooper Review. And an astonishing 20 percent of those 50 funds don’t publish them at all.

Find out what your super fund has disclosed and how it has voted on climate action in the table below.

Findings

Australia’s biggest 50 super funds voting on climate resolutions in 2017

FundAUM ($billions)DisclosureClimate resolutions voted onVotes not disclosed #Votes for %Split votes %
Commonwealth Super Corp195.4Summary only----
AustralianSuper123.2Complete full year49041%0%
AMP118.2Limited full year1510%0%
REST96.4Limited half year2510%50%
MLC96.0Limited half year2510%0%
QSuper95.2Summary only----
Colonial First State94.9None----
BTFG92.2Complete full year15047%20%
First State Super65.9Complete half year12942%8%
Unisuper63.1Limited full year7450%0%
Sunsuper47.9None----
ANZ OnePath42.4Limited half year1510%100%
HESTA42.1Complete full year51086%0%
Cbus40.3Complete full year44011%0%
IOOF26.2Limited half year25150%0%
HOSTPlus25.4Complete half year1090%0%
Mercer24.7Complete full year51071%2%
Telstra Super20.0Summary only----
VicSuper19.3Complete full year49010%27%
Macquarie18.0Limited half year2510%0%
StatePlus Retirement Fund17.7None----
CareSuper16.1Limited half year2510%0%
CommBank Group Super11.1Limited half year1510%0%
LGIAsuper11.0None----
Mine Wealth and Wellbeing10.8Complete half year21962%0%
MTAA Super10.7Limited full year84525%0%
Local Government Super10.5Complete full year26081%0%
Tasplan Super9.0Limited half year1510%100%
Catholic Super8.7None----
Vision Super8.7Complete half year19979%0%
Russell Investments8.5Complete half year40938%0%
equipsuper8.4Complete full year2309%9%
NGS Super8.2Limited half year3933%0%
ACSRF8.1Summary only----
Qantas Super7.8Limited half year290%0%
PostSuper7.8Complete half year23926%30%
Statewide Super7.6Summary only----
EnergySuper7.1Limited full year1706%6%
Suncorp6.9None----
Netwealth Super6.4Limited half year0530%0%
LUCRF5.8Summary only----
Perpetual5.5Limited half year2510%0%
Energy Industries Super5.4None----
Maritime Super5.3None----
Media Super5.1Limited half year2510%0%
TWU Super5.0Limited half year151100%0%
Prime Super4.8Limited full year84513%0%
BUSSQ4.3None----
ANZ Staff Super4.2Limited half year0530%0%
Kinetic Super3.7None----

Background

As a shareholder in thousands of companies worldwide, your super fund has the right to vote on items of business at the AGMS of all of those companies. Issues that are voted upon include director elections, remuneration packages and takeover provisions. Advisory resolutions raised by groups of individual shareholders can also be subject to a vote.