Australian Ethical is a strong supporter of the fossil fuel divestment movement, and of the need for investors to be clear about what that means for the companies they will and won’t invest in.
The inevitable question that arises is where does one draw the line in terms of determining whether or not investing in a company is an ‘investment in fossil fuels’. Companies can have many types of connections with and dependencies on fossil fuel both upstream through their supply chain and downstream through the things they produce. We have been the leader on this issue for many years, with exclusions extending well beyond ‘pure play’ fossil fuel companies.
Australian Ethical has always invested for a safe climate: investing heavily in renewables and energy efficiency and never investing in coal or oil. We divested from unconventional gas in 2011, and are now divesting from our limited remaining gas pipeline investments. Over the past year the most significant barrier to achieving 100% renewable power has been overcome—utility scale battery storage has been commercially demonstrated. This has opened up the possibility for variable renewables like solar and wind to provide steady, baseload power without the need for back up energy from any fossil fuels. Our exclusion of fossil fuels also looks at indirect involvement, for example we divested from Australian Rail Track Corporation last year because of their increasing coal freight revenue.
At Australian Ethical we think that excluding fossil fuel companies is not enough. We recognise that being fossil fuel free that is not the same as emissions free. All aspects of our economy are producing carbon emissions, not just fossil fuel companies. That is why we are going further than any other super fund in the country, with a commitment to reach net zero emissions across all our investments. That means looking at the emissions associated with all our investments, from healthcare to agriculture to infrastructure, and finding ways to decarbonise all of these. To do this we will continue to exercise our influence as an ethical investor by using a full range of ‘ethical investment tools’:
excluding companies and sectors causing unnecessary harm;
seeking out companies and sectors with strong positive social and environmental impacts;
engaging and advocating with company boards and executives for more active consideration of the social and environmental dimension of their activities;
exercising a public ethical investment voice to promote greater recognition of the societal responsibilities of business and investors.
We’re proud of our results that have shown how paying attention to social and environmental sustainability can also help build strong investment portfolios which deliver excellent returns.
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More than 25,000 Australians have invested over $1.3 billion with Australian Ethical. That’s a lot of money invested in good things!
But we believe we can do more. We believe we can help make a significant, positive difference to our world and our future. Click here for more info about how to join.