Our religious traditions all remind us of our responsibility to care for the earth as a precious gift. If we want to protect life on earth, we must move quickly to renewable energy and leave most of our coal, oil and gas in the ground. Instead, Australia is one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world. There is much to be done.
While we all want to see sound public policies implemented more quickly as an individual we can take effective action. When considering many options, to align our finances with our faith to protect the planet is the single most effective action we can each take.
As members, beneficiaries and customers of institutional investors such as super funds, banks and insurance companies, each of us can play a powerful role in moving Australia's economy out of fossil fuels and into clean energy.
Here's a comparison table for a person with relatively modest retirement savings:
In order of greater to lesser carbon impact for the typical Australian
you can bring on the clean energy revolution by taking action today on your:
Make your money count
Did you know that 55% of the world's superannuation is invested in high-carbon assets while less than 2% is invested in clean energy? Have you heard that Australia's big 4 banks are funding coal and gas projects in some of our most precious eco-systems such as the Great Barrier Reef? Tell your financial institution/s that profiting from climate wreckage is morally unacceptable and financially risky.
Contact your super fund
The single most effective individual action most people can take to combat climate change is to switch to a Superannuation (or retirement or pension) Fund which avoids investing in fossil fuel intensive industries. This is because most of our life savings are held by these Funds, large percentages of which are typically invested in coal, oil and gas mining and energy generation.
If super funds switched even a fraction of their investments to renewables, it would completely transform the energy industry! We have the opportunity to radically shift superannuation from the world's biggest fossil fuel investor to a climate change champion.
See if your superannuation fund invests in fossil fuels
Look at the Market Forces list of superfunds https://www.marketforces.org.au/superfunds/.
Market Forces is a Melbourne based financial climate group who are: (a) experts helping Australians act on climate and finance, (b) have been working on these issues since 2013, (c) do reputable research and (d) work respectively.
Engage with your current superannuation fund
See the link on the right hand side of the following website to send an email which you can reword (e.g. as a person of faith) https://www.marketforces.org.au/superfunds/.
This engagement can be ongoing - e.g. sending follow-up emails, attending and asking questions at annual (or other) meetings of your superannuation fund.
Investigate (if applicable) more climate aware super funds or options within your current fund
In addition to the Market Forces website https://www.marketforces.org.au/superfunds/ the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA) website allows comparison of superannuation funds on various criteria https://www.responsiblereturns.com.au/ and the ATO comparison site which is relevant to compare financial performance of super funds https://www.ato.gov.au/YourSuper-Comparison-Tool/.
Shift (if applicable) to a more climate aware super fund/option (if possible)
You may wish/need to discuss this with your financial advisor (if you have one). If you need to find an advisor check this list https://responsibleinvestment.org/.
Join Market Forces' Super campaign to find out where your super is invested and how your fund is managing climate change risks: Find out which Super Funds are fossil free.
Put your bank on notice
If your money is with one of Australia's big 4 banks, then you're investing in fossil fuel projects. Join Market Forces' Banks campaign to tell your bank to stop funding fossil fuel expansion and, if they take no action, commit to shifting to a better bank: Find out more about banks and fossil fuels and Find out which Banks are fossil free.
See if your bank invests in fossil fuels
Engage with your bank(s)
Send an email to your bank (either to congratulate them or ask them, i.e. put them on notice to reduce investment in fossil fuels) https://www.marketforces.org.au/info/compare-bank-table/.
Attend protests outside banks organised by the Climate movement (e.g. ARRCC).
If your bank invests in fossil fuels then investigate alternative banks
For example, see Market Forces weblist of banks with no record of funding fossil fuels since 2016 https://www.marketforces.org.au/info/compare-bank-table/.
Switch banks (if applicable)
It may or may not be possible or perhaps you can switch at least part of your banking.
Individuals choosing to divest from one of the 'big four' banks in 2013, at a protest organised by 350.org.
This section does not apply to everyone. If applicable, for example inheritances, Self Managed Super Funds, or other direct investments in shares and managed funds.
See how green are your investments
See https://www.responsiblereturns.com.au/ to compare & choose responsible & ethical super, banking & investment products.
Do you need help finding an ethical financial advisor or what if you don’t have enough money for a financial advice?
See https://responsibleinvestment.org/ for information on certified Responsible Investor advisors & finding them, however if you don’t have very much money to invest you may like to simply choose https://www.leafratings.org/.
Become involved in shareholder lobbying for the environment
Find out the date of your companies AGM and raise climate issues or you may wish to contact these groups if you want to get involved in shareholder activism (and give your proxies by registering at either or both groups using these websites) https://www.marketforces.org.au/get-involved/use-your-shares/ https://hub.accr.org.au/shareholder/.
Do you have Home, Car, Life Insurance, Professional Indemnity, and/or Health Insurance?
See how green are each of your insurance policies
Find out how your insurance companies support the fossil fuel industry https://www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/insurance/ and don’t forget your health insurance https://www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/insurance/health/.
Engage with your insurance companies
Whether or not you are with QBE you can them send an email https://www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/insurance/. If you have health insurance you can email your health insurance fund https://www.marketforces.org.au/campaigns/insurance/health/.
Consider shifting to greener insurances
As well as Market Forces websites, you might like to look at an international comparison of insurance companies https://insure-our-future.com/scorecard.
Switch to greener insurance (if applicable)
If possible, switch to greener insurance.
Use public transport or car share
Switch to a EV vehicle (or electric bicycle/tricycle/scooter)
Reduce air travel and fly “less emissions” only flights
[Select Google Flights, then your destination, then go to filters and select the less emissions only setting].
Look at carbon offsets
Look at The Green Electricity Guide by Greenpeace to see how green your utility provider is?
Switch to a greener electricity provider
Consider (a) switching from gas to electricity and (b) installing solar panels
Switch your gas heating, hot water and cooking appliances to electricity particularly as they come to the end of their life.
However, this may not be an option if you are renting.
Also, contact your local council to get information on whether they have FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics).
Eat less meat
If you need to eat some meat try to find the most sustainable http://www.australianorganicdirectory.com.au/FOOD/Meat or visit ARRCC Eat Less Meat.
As it may have a smaller carbon footprint.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buy less, swap, borrow, buy second hand.
Contact your local council about what can be recycled.
For more ideas on lifestlye choices see ARRCC Living the Change.