Let’s get the voice of UniSuper’s members to call for divestment
Did you know that each university elects up to four representatives to the UniSuper Consultative Committee to be ‘the voice of the members?’ This committee engages directly with the UniSuper board and is responsible for nominating four directors.
The Consultative Committee is due for a round of meetings with the board to be held in capital cities at the end of July.
We need to ensure your Consultative Committee representatives hear members’ calls for fossil fuel divestment loud and clear, and make sure this issue is on the agenda at those upcoming meetings.
There are some tips and ideas for crafting your message further down this page.
When you select your university, the form will direct your email to the appropriate representatives. Your name and email address will be automatically added to your note so the Consultative Committee members can reply to you directly.
Depending on COVID-19 restrictions, the Consultative Committee meetings with the board may be held in person in capital cities. If you’d like to help ensure the UniSuper Divest campaign has a presence at those events, or want to attend in-person campaign activities in the future, please let us know by ticking the appropriate box on the form.
If you are not currently at a university, there are plenty of other ways you can help build the power of this campaign. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved in upcoming activities, and be sure to share the campaign with fellow members to help build support.
Tips and ideas for your message to the Consultative Committee
Consultative Committee representatives are academics and professional staff like you and many share your concerns about climate change. We want to make sure they hear about the widespread support for fossil fuel divestment among members, so they can present this message loud and clear to the UniSuper board on your behalf.
Here are some points you may wish to raise in your message, and ask your Consultative Committee member to take to the board:
- Why action on climate change and a rapid transition away from fossil fuels is important to you personally,
- You want to make sure fossil fuel divestment and the managing down of your super fund’s exposure to climate risk is a standing item at consultative committee meetings,
- UniSuper has failed to categorically and permanently cease investment in even the most destructive fossil fuel sectors, when other funds (including Hesta just last week) have started taking these steps,
- If we are to meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, fossil fuel production and use must decline rapidly. Yet companies UniSuper invests in – including Whitehaven Coal, New Hope Group, Origin Energy, Woodside, Santos and Oil Search – all have plans to massively increase fossil fuel production, and are therefore undermining efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C (see marketforces.org.au/outofline),
- Recent statements made by both the Chair and CEO suggest fossil fuel divestment is not in members’ best interests. A number of expert studies can be raised in response to this position:
- Super returns at risk from climate inaction, study finds
- Financial case builds for fossil fuel divestment
- Fiduciary duty and fossil fuel divestment
- Decline and Fall: The Size & Vulnerability of the Fossil Fuel System
- Investing In A Time Of Climate Change — The Sequel, and
- Analysis shows fossil fuel producers have underperformed the rest of the Australian share market over the last ten years.
Remember, you’re writing to a colleague who will be generally sympathetic. It might be someone you know well and so you might want to personalise the message even more.
You’re sharing your concerns and asking them to represent you and the thousands of other members who see climate change as a major environmental, social and financial issue. It would be great to follow up with a request to meet or call to talk about your concerns.
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