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Super funds continue to block climate action

23 April 2020

23 April 2020

Major super funds in Australia are continuing to vote, on behalf of their members, against the majority of shareholder proposals that would improve companies’ climate risk management. 

By investing our retirement savings in company shares, super funds get a say in how those companies are run. Our latest analysis, including data compiled by ACCR along with further disclosures, shows 10 of the largest super funds in Australia supported just 38% of the climate resolutions they voted on at Australian and international companies throughout 2019. 

Just 3 of the 10 funds supported more than half of the resolutions, while 4 funds voted for a quarter or less.

Take action

Tell your super fund to vote for climate action

Super fund voting on climate-related shareholder resolutions in 2019

FundTotal votes FOR climate actionVotes FOR climate action (Australia)Votes FOR climate action (international)
UniSuper60%0% (0/13)89% (24/27)
Local Government Super52%17% (2/12)100% (9/9)
Hesta52%75% (6/8)47% (17/36)
AustralianSuper42%0% (0/13)91% (10/11)
BT41%42% (5/12)41% (11/27)
REST*33%0% (0/2)40% (4/10)
First State Super25%8% (1/12)32% (9/28)
Hostplus21%8% (1/13)27% (8/30)
Sunsuper*17%9% (1/11)100% (1/1)
AMP*8%8% (1/13)- (0/0)

*Limited voting disclosure

Data compiled from ACCR’s Vote Like You Mean It Preliminary Report, with further disclosure and data points added by Market Forces

Sustainability is good business

A recent report found companies with better sustainability practices, including climate commitments and action, have performed better than other companies throughout the coronavirus crisis. 

Yet our research shows major investors are regularly voting against proposals that would improve sustainability at the companies they own. Our super funds are using our retirement savings to support business models that would take us towards runaway global warming.

A tale of two standards

Despite not supporting 0% of climate-related shareholder resolutions in Australia in 2019, UniSuper and AustralianSuper each voted for around 90% of international resolutions. 

Similarly, Local Government Super supported just 17% of Australian resolutions versus 100% of international. Most other funds also favoured international resolutions, but with a smaller discrepancy.

The two exceptions to this trend were Hesta, which supported a far greater proportion of local resolutions than any other fund, and BT, which supported about 40% across the board.

Have we turned a corner?

Australia’s first climate-related resolution of 2020, filed by ACCR, saw unprecedented levels of investor support for oil and gas major Santos to align its strategy with the Paris climate goals.

With super funds set to vote on climate proposals at Woodside, Rio Tinto and QBE’s AGMs in the next two weeks, we need to ensure the Santos vote signals a turning point, rather than a blip on the radar.

Take action – use the form above to tell your super fund to vote for all climate-related shareholder

To learn more about how super funds influence corporate behaviour, check out this recent article in the Monthly by Richard Denniss