Our super power in the fight against fossil fuels

Australians have a super power in the race against climate change. It’s super – literally. Every payday, we send nearly 10 per cent of our salary to a super fund. For many of us, super will end up being our largest or second-largest asset. But have you ever wondered what your super savings are really being invested in? A recent poll revealed 92 per cent of Australians expect their super is being invested responsibly and ethically.

The reality is shocking – about 4 per cent are. As a general rule, those managing super ignore ethical, environmental and social issues when making decisions. This means most Australians unknowingly own shares in companies seeking to profit from harm.

Super funds have been lobbying for years against providing members with a complete list of investments. As a result, it isn’t easy to find out where your money is being invested. For the funds that do disclose, the results are appalling: fossil fuels, nuclear weapon producers, tobacco companies, animal cruelty … the list goes on.

For Australians taking personal action to reduce their climate impacts, it might come as a shock to learn almost all super funds are investing their money in climate-wrecking coal, oil and gas companies.

Superannuation is our collective savings. It belongs to all of us. We might not be able to access it until retirement, but our super is being put to work every day. And that means we have a right to demand better from the people investing it.

Super funds can turbocharge Australia’s transition to 100 per cent renewable energy. With an allocation of 8 per cent to climate solutions over the next few decades, our super could decarbonise Australia’s economy by 2050. As more people choose to align their super with their values, fund managers won’t have a choice but to listen.

Michael Bones is head of engagement at Future Super, Australia’s first fossil fuel-free super fund.