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Australian super funds have doubled investment in fossil fuel companies, new report finds

Australia's largest superannuation funds have doubled their investments in high-emitting companies over the past two years, according to a new report by environmental finance group Market Forces.


The group's latest analysis found that Australia's largest 30 super funds had $39 billion invested in what the group describes as "climate wreckers". In 2021, that figure was $19 billion.


At the same time, clean energy investment from super funds decreased by half a billion dollars to $7.7 billion.


Super funds are required to disclose their investments twice a year, allowing groups to investigate where their money is going.


Market Forces is an environmental advocacy group that focuses its efforts on financial institutions like super funds and banks and tries to stop them from investing in companies that aren't considered climate friendly.


Superannuation funds campaigner Brett Morgan said despite super funds claiming to support greater climate action, most were continuing to invest in the expansion of fossil fuels.


"Any super funds claiming to support greater climate action must be forcing climate wrecking companies to end their fossil fuel expansion plans and be publicly divesting from them," he said.


Mr. Morgan said Market Forces had already worked with tens of thousands of members to demand their super funds stop investing in fossil fuels.


"What we've seen is many super funds increasing their climate ambition, because of that demand from members," he said.


"Ultimately, super funds are there to serve the interests of their members and so when members come together and demand greater climate action, their super funds will and do listen."


This report focused on the default investment offering for the top 30 super funds, and the top three with the biggest proportion of their investments in high-emitting companies were:


• UniSuper - Balanced fund

• Commonwealth Super Corp's - PSS Default

• MLC - MySuper Growth


Details of other funds are provided in the full ABC story and the report.


UniSuper has 11.5%, or $2.22 billion, invested in "climate-wrecking" companies, while Commonwealth Super had $1.17 billion. On average, less than 2% of a fund's investments was in publicly listed clean energy companies.


The analysis also found most of the investment in new fossil fuel projects went into just three companies: Woodside, Santos and Whitehaven.

"[They] are by far the biggest contributors to those emissions for the average super fund," Mr. Morgan said.


For example, the report found that the default investment option of Australia's largest super fund AustralianSuper had increased its investment in fossil fuels with a massive buy up of Woodside shares in 2022.


Woodside alone makes up around 20 per cent of the value of AustralianSuper's investments in these "climate wreckers."


Find the full story by the ABC here.

For those interested in reaching out to super funds about this issue, see the Market Forces super site.





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