13 January 2020
Market Forces has joined with academics, scientists, researchers and university employees across Australia to launch a major new campaign to pressure super fund, UniSuper, to divest billions of dollars of members’ retirement savings from fossil fuel companies driving the climate crisis.
To mark the start of the campaign, Market Forces has launched a new website (https://unisuperdivest.org/) hosting an open letter from UniSuper members to the $83bn fund’s board of directors. Thousands of UniSuper members are expected to join the open letter.
The letter states, “as the default superannuation fund for Australia’s academics, scientists, researchers and university employees, UniSuper should be leading investor action on climate change. Instead, billions of dollars of members’ retirement savings are invested in companies whose operations and plans are completely incompatible with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.”
Currently, UniSuper only discloses its top 20 Australian and top 20 international shareholdings. But even from this limited disclosure, at least 10% of the fund’s Australian share investments is in companies actively undermining the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, including Woodside, Santos and APA. UniSuper itself reports: “Across the fund 12% of our exposure is in companies involved in fossil fuels.” This equates to around $10 billion dollars of investment in fossil fuel companies.
UniSuper does not have fund-wide exclusions on fossil fuel investments of any kind. Instead, it claims to engage with investee companies in order to improve climate risk management.
However, UniSuper has failed to vote in favour of a single climate change-related shareholder resolution in Australia, based on the fund’s disclosed proxy votes to 30 June 2019.
“While Australia’s scientific and academic community work towards climate change solutions at this time of unprecedented bushfire crisis, their superfund is showing reckless disregard by investing their retirement savings in the companies causing the problem,” said Market Forces’ Asset Management Campaigner Will van de Pol.
“Instead of paying lip-service, UniSuper can and must be at the vanguard of sustainable investment.”