Super funds’ targeting net zero accelerate

The volume of superannuation funds who are publicly supporting climate change measures has “accelerated” in the past three months, according to a new report. 

The report from ClimateWorks Australia with the Monash Sustainable Development Institute found one-fifth of the 20 largest super organisations had publicly stated their intention to move to net zero emissions by 2050.  

These super companies were Cbus, HESTA and UniSuper while Aware Super (formerly First State Super) said it was seeking to transition to net zero by mid-century but not yet committed to an explicit target. 

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Some 60% were engaged in emission reduction activities in their portfolio but were not yet aligned with net zero by 2050 while 20% had made no commitments or activities. The report suggested this was because there was a lack of clarity in the industry around how they would be able to achieve it. 

The 20 largest super organisations collectively held $1.5 trillion in assets under management. 

The biggest risk identified by super funds was climate risks and funds were centred on engagement with companies in disclosing their climate risks and asking them to decarbonise through initiatives such as Climate Action 100+. 

ClimateWorks Australia chief executive, Anna Skarbek, said: “‘In June, HESTA set a portfolio-wide target of net zero emissions by 2050. In July, Aware Super announced plans to divest from thermal coal miners and reduce emissions in its listed equities portfolio by at least 30% by 2023. In August, Cbus announced a net zero by 2050 target, as well as a commitment to reduce portfolio emissions by 45% by 2030. And just this week, UniSuper has followed suit.  

“Most of these announcements meet the benchmark established last year by the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, whose members have committed to transition their investment portfolios to net zero by 2050 and are now working on methodologies and strategies that can achieve such an outcome.” 

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