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Retirement

Are superannuation funds turning their back on the environment?

By Cameron Micallef · February 19 2020
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egg

Retirement

Are superannuation funds turning their back on the environment?

By Cameron Micallef
February 19 2020
Reading:
egg
superannuation ESG

Are superannuation funds turning their back on the environment?

author image
By Cameron Micallef · February 19 2020
Reading:
egg
superannuation ESG

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has lashed out at the country’s largest superannuation funds for failing to step up on climate action.

The latest ACCR report compared the publicly available proxy voting records of 50 of the largest superannuation funds, looking at 135 climate change related shareholder proposals. 

ACCR director of climate and environment Dan Gocher said how superannuation funds are acting on climate change is the opposite to what members would expect.

“While Australian companies are seen as global laggards on climate, Australian super funds routinely vote against reasonable shareholder proposals that seek improved disclosure or set emissions targets. These resolutions are designed to mitigate climate risk at the companies concerned,” Mr Gocher said.

In 2019, overall support for Australian shareholder proposals declined from an average of 19 per cent in 2018 to 14.8 per cent, which was consistent with the trend in the US (32.5 per cent in 2018, down to 25.1 per cent in 2019). 

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The five most supportive funds on all shareholders proposals globally were UniSuper, NGS Super, Cbus, Vision Super and HESTA, with more than 10 votes.

This was somewhat consistent with the five most supportive funds over the entire three-year period: Local Government Super, HESTA, Vision Super, Mercer and Macquarie.

Many funds’ support for Australian shareholder proposals were seen to decline significantly between 2018 and 2019. For example, Local Government Super had previously supported 100 per cent of proposals in 2018 with five out of five votes, but only supported 20 per cent in 2019 in its total of 10 votes.

Cbus, First State Super, Mercer and MTAA Super backed just one Australian shareholder proposal last year, out of their 11 votes each. 

AustralianSuper was reported to have not backed a single Australian proposal in 2019 out of its 11 votes.

“The reluctance by super funds to escalate issues and create discomfort with companies must be overcome if we are to have any chance of addressing Australia’s appalling record on emissions,” Mr Gocher concluded.

“The lack of disclosure by super funds continues to be an ongoing concern. Far too many funds are treating their members and the general public with contempt, by drip feeding them information. The larger the superannuation industry gets, the greater the responsibility funds have. Disclosure and transparency matters.”

Are superannuation funds turning their back on the environment?
superannuation ESG
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About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

Join The Nest Egg community

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