How UniSuper is undermining climate action.
UniSuper invests billions of dollars of worth of members’ retirement savings in fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis.
The fund only only discloses its top 20 Australian and top 20 international shareholdings. But even from this limited disclosure, we know at least 10% of the fund’s Australian share investments is in companies actively undermining the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, including Woodside, APA and BHP. UniSuper itself reports: “Across the fund 12% of our exposure is in companies involved in fossil fuels,” including investments in Santos, Oil Search and Origin Energy.
UniSuper does not have fund-wide exclusions on fossil fuel investments of any kind. Instead, the fund claims to engage with investee companies in order to improve climate risk management. However, UniSuper has failed to vote in favour of a single climate change-related shareholder resolution in Australia. This approach also fails to recognise the fact that no amount of engagement can bring a company relying on fossil fuel expansion into line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The only option is to divest.
UPDATE 4 August 2020
After months of escalating pressure from thousands of UniSuper members, we have just seen our first signs that member pressure can yield results.
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.
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