When challenged over their investments in climate-wrecking companies, super funds inevitably say they prefer to remain invested in those companies to encourage them to clean up their act, rather than divest. However, a new report by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) shows that super funds are failing to follow through with these claims. In fact, many large funds are actively voting against climate action.

By investing our retirement savings in company shares, super funds get a say in how those companies are run. This includes voting on formal proposals at companies’ annual general meetings (AGMs), such as shareholder resolutions calling for improved climate action.

Despite the majority of Australia’s 50 largest super funds by assets under management (AUM) publicly supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement, ACCR’s report shows that just 9 funds supported 50% or more of the climate-related shareholder resolutions put forward in 2020. Worse still, seven funds failed to support any of these resolutions at all.

Super funds exist to grow the retirement savings of their members, and so it is members’ money that gives funds the voting power at company AGMs. These funds need to align their climate commentary with tangible action by:

  1. Voting in favour of all environmental, social and governance-related shareholder resolutions at company AGMs* this year; and
  2. Divesting from companies that either cannot or will not align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Your super fund may very well be using your retirement savings to block climate action. Get in touch and tell them to exercise their voting power on your behalf. Tell your super fund to vote for climate action and stop investing your money in climate-wrecking companies.

*Companies facing these resolutions in the remainder of 2021:

• Origin • New Hope Corporation
• South32 • Westpac
• Fortescue Metals • ANZ
• CommBank • NAB
• Whitehaven Coal



Tell your super fund to vote for the climate with your retirement savings.

How did your fund vote in 2020?

The climate-related proxy voting behaviour of Australia’s top 50 super funds by AUM, 2017-2020

Fund20172018201920204 years2020 Disclosure
ANZ OnePath (now OnePath, and owned by IOOF)0%*0%*14%50%*14%Limited
ANZ Staff Super-----Limited
AON-----No disclosure
Aware Super35%67%30%42%40%Complete
BT Financial Group50%60%35%39%41%Complete
Catholic Super-29%*-30%-Limited
Colonial First State---0%*-Limited
CommBank Group Super0%*57%*27%50%*31%Limited
Commonwealth Super Corp-----Summary
Energy Industries Super (EISS)-----No disclosure
Energy Super (now merged with LGIAsuper)6%33%*6%56%29%Complete
HUB24 Super Fund-----No disclosure
LGIAsuper (now merged with Energy Super)-----No disclosure
Local Government Super (now Active Super)81%100%50%55%70%Complete
Macquarie0%*64%63%-57%No disclosure
Maritime Super-----No disclosure
Media Super0%*57%*7%67%*26%Limited
Mine Super46%21%22%54%38%Complete
MTAA Super (now Spirit Super)29%*50%*7%0%*20%Limited
Netwealth Super-----No disclosure
NGS Super13%*33%*88%100%70%Complete
Perpetual0%*0%*0%-0%No disclosure
Prime Super0%*13%*10%33%16%Limited
Qantas Super25%-34%48%40%Complete
Russell Investments39%-0%25%28%Complete
Statewide Super-----Summary
Tasplan Super (now Spirit Super)0%*18%0*0%*5%Limited
Telstra Super-40%*22%39%33%Complete
TWU Super-25%*100%*75%*-Limited
Vision Super67%94%60%95%76%Complete

*Support for climate-related resolutions where the fund has disclosed less than 10 votes for that particular year


The data in the above table is adapted from page 37 of ACCR’s 2021 Super Votes report (which details the voting behaviour of funds that have disclosed a minimum of 20 climate-related votes across the four year period from 2017-2020), as well as the publicly disclosed datasets released alongside ACCR’s report. ACCR’s methodology is found on page 13 of the Super Votes report.

The figures marked with an asterisk (*) represent the % support for climate-related resolutions where the fund has disclosed less than 10 votes for that particular year. As such, those statistics should be treated with caution.

Funds that do not have a % support figure in the ‘4 years’ column have disclosed less than 20 total votes across the period from 2017 to 2020.

The leaders and the laggards

Find out which super funds were the most or least supportive of climate-related resolutions over the last four years.

The leaders

The five funds* most supportive of climate-related resolutions in 2020

Fund % of votes in support
NGS Super 100%
Vision Super 95%
Cbus 64%
Energy Super 56%

The five funds** most supportive of climate-related resolutions, 2017-2020

Fund % of votes in support
Vision Super 76%
Local Government Super (now Active Super) 70%
NGS Super 70%
Mercer 59%

Source: ACCR’s Super Votes report, pg. 37

*Funds that disclosed a minimum of 10 votes in 2020.

**Funds that disclosed a minimum of 20 votes across 2017-2020.

There are a few clear leaders who voted most strongly in favour of climate action in 2020. In particular, NGS Super voted in favour of 100% of the climate-related resolutions it disclosed voting records for, with Vision Super voting in favour 95% of the time. HESTA came in third place at 72%, though it is worth noting that HESTA disclosed more votes on climate-related resolutions in 2020 (39 votes in total) than NGS (12 votes) and Vision (20 votes).

Looking across the four-year period from 2017 to 2020, however, overall support for climate-related resolutions is lower, meaning that funds still have a lot of work to do. ACCR notes that aggregate support for climate-related resolutions rose from 2017-2018, before declining significantly in 2019, and rising again in 2020 (Super Votes, p.36). NGS was one of the few funds to buck the trend, with its support for climate-related resolutions increasing year on year from 2017 to 2020.

The laggards

The five funds* least supportive of climate-related resolutions in 2020

Fund % of votes in support
UniSuper 0%
Russell Investments 25%
REST 29%
Equipsuper 31%
Prime Super 33%

The five funds** least supportive of climate-related resolutions, 2017-2020

Fund % of votes in support
MLC 0%
Tasplan Super (now Spirit Super) 5%
ANZ OnePath^ 14%
AMP 15%

Source: ACCR’s Super Votes report, pg. 37

*Funds that disclosed a minimum of 10 votes in 2020.

**Funds that disclosed a minimum of 20 votes across 2017-2020.

^ANZ sold OnePath to IOOF in February 2020.

Despite some good examples of proxy voting leadership in 2020, there are several funds that were well behind the pack. In particular, it is disappointing to see that UniSuper—of the 13 votes it disclosed—did not support a single climate-related resolution in 2020. UniSuper is a vocal supporter of engagement over divestment to address climate change, yet its poor voting record suggests it is failing to live up to its claims. UniSuper’s divestment from thermal coal in late 2020, and, more recently, significant cuts in oil and gas investments in August 2021 suggest it has given up on engaging with some fossil fuel companies.

REST is another fund that is disappointing to see in the bottom five. In late 2020, REST agreed to “actively consider all climate change related shareholder resolutions of investee companies” after a 2-year legal battle with member Mark McVeigh. REST has increased its overall support for climate-related resolutions year-on-year since 2017, but has still only supported 19% of these proposals across four years.

Looking across a four-year period, retail funds (MLC, IOOF, OnePath and AMP) make up four of the five funds that have least supported climate-related resolutions.

Super funds need to step up the pressure on climate-wrecking companies

We have already seen several climate-related shareholder resolutions put to a vote at company AGMs in 2021, such as resolutions calling on undiversified oil and gas giants Woodside Energy and Santos to disclose how they will manage down fossil fuel production in line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The Woodside resolution received a 19% vote in favour from shareholders, and the Santos resolution received a 13% vote in favour.

Coal mining companies Whitehaven Coal and New Hope Corporation will be hosting their AGMs in late 2021. Shareholders will be given the opportunity to vote on climate-related resolutions calling on these companies to responsibly manage down coal production in line with the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Super funds are big investors in many companies listed on the Australian share market, including the four fossil fuel companies mentioned above. This means super funds have a big say in how those companies are run. Super funds need to therefore ramp up the pressure on climate-wrecking companies and vote in favour of the above-mentioned environmental, social and governance-related resolutions this year, and divest from companies that either cannot or will not align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Tell your super fund to vote for the climate this AGM season.

Background information

What is proxy voting?

As a shareholder in thousands of companies worldwide, your super fund has the right to vote on items of business at the annual general meetings (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.

What are shareholder resolutions?

Shareholder resolutions are formal proposals put forward by a group of shareholders to guide a company’s actions. They are included as an item of business to be discussed and voted upon at a company’s AGM. All shareholders, including large investors like superannuation funds, then have the opportunity to vote for or against the resolution (or they can abstain or elect not to vote).

Resolutions are used by shareholders in an attempt to improve the performance of companies, often in relation to sustainability issues, like climate change. Generally, shareholder resolutions require the support of more than 50% of shareholders to pass, and are generally non-binding on the company. In the United States, shareholder resolutions form part of the regular process of engagement with companies. In Australia, however, our Corporations Law does not presently allow shareholders to file advisory resolutions at all companies. Shareholders can however seek to change a company’s constitution to allow shareholders to file advisory resolutions. Such changes to a company’s constitution require the support of 75% of shareholders to pass.

To learn more about shareholder resolutions, head over to our shareholder action page.


The information provided by Market Forces does not constitute financial advice. The information is presented in order to inform people motivated by environmental concerns and take actions based on those concerns. Market Forces is organising data for environmental ends.

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