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Super funds fail in adequate climate support

Yasmine Masi1 November 2023
Revealed rubber stamp

The lack of support for climate-related shareholder proposals by Australian superannuation funds has been exposed in new research conducted by Market Forces.

The report, The Great Superannuation Greenwash, revealed the four worst super funds were Commonwealth Bank Group Super, TelstraSuper, Hostplus and Mine Super, which all voted against over 70 per cent of climate proposals they took action on in 2022.

Only eight funds supported more than half of climate-related shareholder proposals that they voted on at annual general meetings (AGMs) in 2022.

Funds including TelstraSuper, Mine Super and Australian Retirement Trust (ART) formed part of the 20 per cent that voted against climate proposals that had high levels of support from other global shareholders in 2022.

The report also found that super funds were more likely to not support climate action brought about by companies on Market Forces’ own Climate Wreckers Index, a list of 190 global companies with the largest fossil fuel emissions plans. Australian oil and gas companies Woodside Energy, Santos and Whitehaven Coal feature on the list.

Support for climate-related proposals from companies on the Climate Wreckers Index fell by 23 percentage points in 2022, when compared to the previous year. Rest and Hostplus were the only two of the 10 largest funds analysed that voted against every climate action proposal from Climate Wrecker companies in 2022.

“Super funds are going backwards on climate action at a time when they must be pulling out all the stops to bring companies into line with their climate commitments,” Brett Morgan, Superannuation Funds Campaigner at Market Forces, said.

“Super funds have been telling their members for years they take climate action by voting at company annual general meetings, yet many funds are simply greenwashing while failing to support proposals for genuine emissions reduction.

“As bushfires rage across the country, Australia’s biggest super funds are failing to hold some of the world’s worst climate wrecking companies to account for their dangerous fossil fuel expansion plans.

“Voting against the reckless fossil fuel expansion plans of companies like Woodside and Santos is essential for super funds with climate commitments, otherwise they are greenwashing.

“Super funds have the opportunity and the imperative to vote for climate action during the upcoming annual general meeting season and members will be watching.”

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