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Dear Mr Cantor
Member number: ...
It is commendable that the Australian Superannuation and Retirement Fund is clearly committed to responsible investment, but I am very concerned that this does not involve the exclusion of fossil fuel extraction and related industries.
ACSRF’s Responsible Investment Policy explains that the Fund is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, and is a member of both the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia and the Investor Group on Climate Change. ACSRF is invested in a number of funds with Environmental, Social and Governance themes, including the Generation Climate Solutions Fund. The Fund also offers a Socially Responsible Balanced option, which is managed by the AMP Responsible Investment Leaders Fund. All this is encouraging.
I would like to express strong concern, however, that my superannuation is being invested in fossil fuel extraction and related industries. My objection is based largely on my belief that it is immoral to profit from industries which we now know are destroying the earth’s capacity to support life as we know it.
You will be aware, from the Carbon Tracker Initiative, that 80% of the world’s reserves of coal, oil and gas must remain in the ground if we are to have a reasonable chance of avoiding 2 degrees C global temperature rise. Yet fossil fuel industries are not only continuing Business As Usual in mining known reserves of coal, oil and gas, they are investing billions in exploration for more.
For these reasons the Anglican General Synod and Uniting Church Assembly have formally endorsed fossil fuel divestment as an ethical principle, and numerous Church bodies have decided to move their money out of fossil fuel extraction. These include the World Council of Churches, various Australian Anglican Dioceses, Quakers in Australia, all the Anglican Dioceses of New Zealand/Aetearoa and the Catholic Universities of Dayton and Georgetown in the US. Four Catholic religious orders joined the list on the one-year anniversary of the release of Laudato Si’.
Pope Francis has written in Laudato Si’, “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas - has to be progressively replaced without delay.” (para. 165) He describes global warming as a “crisis” repeatedly in his encyclical and writes that action is urgent. This is a perspective I share, along with his understanding that it as a major injustice towards coming generations and those currently subject to climate-related disasters in vulnerable countries.
I am disturbed that my life savings are currently serving to perpetuate the causes of this injustice.
It is also relevant that investing in coal, oil and gas extraction is becoming increasingly financially risky. The reasons are that (1) after the Paris Agreement governments are obliged to regulate to limit global warming; (2) renewables are increasingly price-competitive; (3) public demand for action to curb climate change is rightly intensifying. Already, MSCI demonstrates that investments excluding fossil fuels have produced better returns in recent years than those which have not.
As a long-term investor, ACSRF should be more future-oriented. It is part of the fiduciary duty of the Fund to work in the long-term best interests of members, and I am troubled that this is not reflected in its current investment policies.
To continue as a member I would need to see the Board of Management adopt policies which progressively exclude investments in the Carbon Underground 200 list of companies with climate risk exposure. How does the Fund intend to minimise its holdings in fossil fuel extraction? What is the Fund’s timeline for divesting from fossil fuels? Please inform me of your decisions around this so that I can consider other superannuation fund options if necessary.
I look forward to hearing from you.