Market Forces estimates over $100 billion of Australians’ retirement savings - approximately $4,800 per member account on average - is invested in the 180 most climate-destructive listed companies on the planet.
The climate advocate’s research was made possible after superfunds were required to reveal their portfolio holdings this year following long-awaited regulation coming into effect.
Market Forces asset management campaigner, Will van de Pol, said: “Until this year, Australian super funds have been a black box. But for the first time ever, Australians are now able to actually take a clear look at how our retirement savings are invested. And it’s not a pretty picture.”
“The money we’re saving for our future is being poured into the companies which are destroying it.”
The study identified a Climate Wreckers Index of 180 global publicly-listed companies with the biggest plans to expand the scale of the fossil fuel industry. This was then cross-referenced against holdings from the default or largest investment option of 32 of Australia’s largest super funds.
Key findings revealed:
- The average option has 6.26% of its members’ share investments in the worst 180 climate wreckers;
- UniSuper topped the list, with 8.36% of its balanced option’s share investments in the climate wreckers, followed by CareSuper Balanced and TWU Balanced;
- At the other end of the scale, Aware Super’s High Growth had the lowest investment exposure to the Climate Wreckers Index at 3.5%. Vision Super Balanced Growth and AustralianSuper Balanced had the second and third lowest exposures respectively;
- Self-proclaimed climate leaders were not backing up their claims with action. HESTA’s Balanced Growth fund invests 5.83% of its members’ money in the Climate Wreckers Index and Active Super’s default option has a 6.08% exposure.
Market Forces said emissions targets made little difference, whereas funds that implemented fossil fuel exclusion policies or took fossil fuel divestment action reaching into both the coal and oil and gas sectors were generally among those with the lowest overall exposures to the Climate Wreckers Index.
“There is no room to expand coal, oil and gas if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Yet the companies in the Climate Wreckers Index are planning new coal, oil and gas production and power generation projects equivalent to almost 200 years of Australia’s national annual emissions,” van de Pol said.
“Funds that claim to support climate action shouldn’t be investing any of their members’ retirement savings in companies on the Climate Wreckers Index. Yet what we see is superfunds making a $100 billion bet against a safe climate, using Australians’ retirement savings to do it.”