4 March 2022
Cbus and Media Super announced merger plans last year, and have now set a completion date. However, each fund takes a different approach to climate change, and the question that remains to be answered for members of both funds is this: what will this merger mean for climate action?
This merger presents the risk that Media Super members will see their fund’s thermal coal mining exclusion policy scrapped, and members re-invested in climate-wrecking companies like Whitehaven Coal and New Hope. But it also presents an opportunity for the combined super fund, one of the biggest in the country, to become a true climate leader by ruling out investments in any company expanding the scale of the coal, oil and gas industries.
Industry super funds Cbus and Media Super have set a date for the completion of the funds’ proposed merger: 9 April 2022. Cbus manages $66.7 billion of its members’ money and Media Super manages $7 billion for its members, meaning that the combined fund will likely fall within the biggest 15 super funds in Australia. However, each fund takes a different approach to climate change. Media Super’s thermal coal exclusion policy rules out investment in climate-wrecking coal companies like Whitehaven and New Hope, yet Cbus’ policy enables it to remain invested in both. Without a clear indication from these funds as to how the combined entity will manage climate risk, Media Super members are left in the dark as to whether or not their retirement savings will be re-invested in climate pariahs Whitehaven and New Hope.
Cbus’ climate policy includes a ‘stranded asset framework,’ which considers the carbon intensity of its investments. While this policy will have caused some reduction in investments in Whitehaven and New Hope, it doesn’t exclude investment altogether. Media Super’s climate policy takes a stricter approach to coal companies, the fund having made the decision to “…divest from the mining of thermal coal in [its] listed equities mandates” in July 2019. However, Media Super has failed to exclude coal power generators, metallurgical coal producers, or oil and gas companies from its portfolio, meaning it is still free to invest in major climate polluters like Woodside Petroleum and Santos. Cbus’ stranded asset framework will have caused some reduction in investments in oil and gas companies, but the fund’s June 2021 holdings disclosure shows ~$154 million invested in Woodside, ~$124 million in Santos and ~$115 million in Oil Search (which has since merged with Santos).
Woodside, Santos, Whitehaven Coal and New Hope are pursuing billions of dollars worth of new fossil fuel projects that are completely out of line with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Find out more here.
Tell your super fund that you want this merger to speed up climate action.