Downer board can’t face up to climate questions

1 November 2018

Downer’s board of directors were in the firing line at today’s annual general meeting (AGM), facing questions about their climate change views and the company’s stance on Australia’s emissions targets.

Downer Holdings Company Ltd, as it is listed on the Australian stock exchange, has an incredibly diverse business portfolio that includes power, oil and gas, mining and mineral processing, roads and transport, infrastructure, communications, and even renewables. Last year it added facilities management and cleaning services to this list, acquiring an 88% stake in Spotless.

Economy wrecking emissions targets

Through our recent ‘Investing in the Dark’ research, Market Forces discovered that although Downer has begun the process of disclosing climate risk, they are yet to carry out climate scenario analysis or develop plans or targets for curbing emissions.

In fact, Downer sits on the Energy and Climate Committee of the Business Council of Australia, an organisation that calls Labor’s proposed 45% emissions target “economy wrecking”. When asked today by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) whether Downer agrees with this position, CEO Grant Fenn squirmed out of giving a direct answer. Watch the video:

It was a similar story when Nicole Hollows, who was up for re-election as independent non-executive board member, refused to say whether she accepts the science of climate change:

Adani aftermath

Any hopes that last year’s cancelled contract with Indian coal mining giant Adani would see Downer turn its back on environment-wrecking coal, were quashed at today’s AGM. Climate change impacts appear unlikely to determine Downer’s decisions on any future coal mining project work.

“We’ll look at the environmental aspects and the safety aspects and the business ones around any coal mine… and make a decision on that basis,” chairman Michael Harding’s explained to a shareholder.

While Downer is evidently starting to put resources towards improving its climate change risk reporting, curbing runaway global warming does not appear to be a serious concern for Downer’s board.

Take action

Is your super fund invested in Downer? Call on your fund to hold ASX listed companies to account and protect our future and your retirement savings from climate change!