Anti-Fossil Fuel Protests Hit Australia Pension’s Doorstep

Members of Australia’s UniSuper Fund protest against the fund’s fossil fuel investments.

Australia’s UniSuper last week faced opposition against its approximately $8 billion worth of investments that fail to meet the accords of the Paris Climate Agreement, in the form of protests and approximately 10,000 signatories supporting divestment.

The protesters demanded that UniSuper divest from such companies, and their actions mirror an overall country-wide climate change awareness following the bushfire crisis that plagued the region in recent months.

UniSuper has reported “across the fund 12% of our exposure is in companies involved in fossil fuels,” an increase from 8% in January 2018, including holdings in Santos, Oil Search, and Origin Energy. The fund previously stated it had no plans to divest from those assets, it has been reported.

The fund has yet to approve any climate change-related shareholder resolutions in Australia. Activist website UniSuperDivest said “this approach also fails to recognize 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,” the website said.

After years of engagement, fossil fuel companies are still expanding the coal, oil & gas sectors, driving us further towards runaway climate change,” UniSuper Divest said in a tweet. “The time for engagement has long passed—super funds must pull our retirement savings out of climate-wrecking companies.”

More than 10,000 individuals have signed a petition on UniSuperDivest’s website demanding the fund retract from its business operations in companies failing to meet the standards set by the Paris Climate accord.

Many different institutional investors have faced increasingly stern protests from their affiliated population against fossil fuel-related investments, and some have been caving into the pressure. Europe’s largest pension fund, the Netherlands’ ABP, vowed to be climate neutral by 2050. The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) also faced similar pressure that UniSuper is up against, and its participation in the fossil fuel industry was blamed on a deep network of relationships with individuals linked to the sector.



Tags: , , , , ,