14 November 2019
What a difference a few years makes. Back in 2016, when the climate crisis was first raised by shareholders at the Medibank annual general meeting (AGM), the company seemed to have given no consideration to the impacts that fossil fuel pollution and global warming would have on public health.
Three years later and the climate crisis is taking centre stage, with the CEO Craig Drummond committing to doing more:
“As we broaden our focus to healthcare, it is appropriate that we look at how we respond to the health risks associated with climate change. The scientific evidence is very clear about the impact of climate change on human health and we have ramped up our focus on this in recent years.
“While our operations are certified as carbon neutral and our equity investment portfolio is low carbon, I recognise that Medibank can and should go further.”Medibank CEO Craig Drummond
How low is “low carbon”?
In 2017, after a community campaign, Medibank committed to dumping its fossil fuel company shares. It has now shifted to “low carbon” investments in both its international and domestic share portfolios.
But just how low is “low-carbon”? One shareholder wanted to know, asking:
“So what is Medibank’s residual exposure to coal, oil and gas companies in its investment portfolios? How much money is still invested in fossil fuel companies?“
Medibank’s CEO said that its carbon exposure in its shares had fallen by 40-50% since the company began shifting its investments, and refused to provide any more details. He insisted that the company “cannot go to zero [fossil fuel exposure] overnight” – despite it being around 1,095 nights since the issue was first raised with him.
This means that Medibank is still investing its customers’ money in companies that are fuelling the climate crisis, expanding the fossil fuel sector, and generating deadly air pollution. If Medibank really does take the climate crisis seriously, it needs to finish the job NOW.