UniSuper starts divesting, but still has a long way still to go
4 August 2020
After months of escalating pressure from thousands of other UniSuper members, we have just seen our first signs that member pressure can yield results.
We can reveal UniSuper has divested from a small group of coal mining companies. This is far from what more than 12,000 campaign supporters have asked for – a complete exit from all coal, oil and gas companies undermining the Paris climate goals – but represents an important step towards that goal.
Congratulations to everyone who has helped drive this important first win in the UniSuper Divest campaign. Together, you’ve helped bring UniSuper’s investments closer to the values of its members. We now need to take the momentum this campaign has generated so far and get UniSuper to properly divest from companies hell-bent on expanding the fossil fuel industry.
Strangely, the fund has not made a public announcement, but told member representatives at the consultative committee meeting last week that the fund no longer had any investments in companies that derive most of their business from mining coal for energy use. UniSuper has now confirmed this to the media, but would not say whether the move was part of a broader policy to exit fossil fuels.
UniSuper has sold its holdings in companies like Whitehaven Coal and New Hope. However, UniSuper remains invested in other fossil fuel companies, including coal power generators AGL and Origin, and major oil and gas producers Woodside, Santos and Oil Search.
About this campaign
UniSuper DIVEST is a project of Market Forces, supported by UniSuper members across Australia. The campaign is designed to support signatories to take ownership of the campaign and organise to share it widely among fellow UniSuper members. Together we will take this campaign into the media and right to the doors of UniSuper.
UniSuper DIVEST recognises and supports the important work of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) in pushing for climate action, including motions passed in October 2019 declaring a climate emergency and calling on UniSuper to divest from fossil fuels. This campaign supports these efforts and seeks to demonstrate widespread support for fossil fuel divestment among UniSuper members.
Market Forces’ research has identified the big Australian companies that are undermining climate action by expanding the scale of the fossil fuel industry and whose future is tied to worsening the climate crisis. These are the companies the open letter calls on UniSuper to divest from.
UniSuper should not be investing any of its members’ retirement savings in these climate-wrecking companies. While the fund offers investment options that exclude some fossil fuel investments, these options represent a tiny proportion of assets under management and require members to actively seek out and switch into them. Climate action is effectively quarantined to those niche options and the members that are able to find their way into them. Meanwhile UniSuper continues to invest billions of dollars in fossil fuels through mainstream investment options. UniSuper, as a whole, is still overwhelmingly backing companies that are driving us towards runaway climate change.
This campaign provides a platform for members to demand UniSuper divests from fossil fuel companies that are undermining the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Market Forces is an affiliate project of Friends of the Earth Australia. Learn more at marketforces.org.au/about