Five of Australia’s biggest superannuation funds have been accused of greenwashing over their failure to rein in the fossil fuel companies they are invested in.
Financial lobby group Market Forces called out AustralianSuper, Commonwealth Super Corporation, Australian Retirement Trust, Aware Super and AMP, in a new report.
Market Forces accused the funds - who collectively manage $1 trillion of Aussies’ retirement savings - of failing to “effectively engage” with companies expanding fossil fuels, including oil and gas producers Santos and Woodside.
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All five of the funds have claimed support for or aligned with the Paris Agreement goals and/or net zero targets, Market Forces noted.
“The findings of our report expose Australia’s biggest super funds for failing to hold the most climate-damaging companies to account over their fossil fuel expansion plans,” Market Forces superannuation funds campaigner and report author Brett Morgan said.
“There’s an appalling gap between climate commitments and real action by our biggest super funds and this is a slap in the face for members who deserve a safe future to retire into.”
Market Forces said the super funds were exposing themselves to greenwashing claims and legal risk through this failure, claiming they were legally required to have “reasonable grounds” to believe they will achieve their goals.
“Super funds must immediately and significantly ramp up their engagement efforts with these companies, demanding an end to fossil fuel expansion and divesting from companies that fail to comply,” the report said.
It comes as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) launches an Australia-first greenwashing case against Mercer Superannuation Limited.
The corporate watchdog alleged Mercer made misleading statements about the sustainable nature of some of its investment options.
ASIC commissioner Danielle Press told The Australian Financial Review it is investigating “several” superannuation funds for greenwashing and suspects these matters will result in court action.