QSuper started out as the super fund for Queensland government employees, and has grown to a membership of over 550,000. With more than $65 billion worth of members’ retirement savings under its management, QSuper is one of the largest super funds in Australia.
But despite the fund’s size and considerable resources, our recent Risky Business report found that QSuper disclosed inadequate information about how the fund manages climate risk. In fact, the only time QSuper has publicly mentioned climate risk was this blog post from October 2015.
Tell QSuper to improve their climate risk disclosure today!
What has QSuper said about climate risk?
QSuper’s lone public example of climate risk consideration – a blog post titled ‘Which way to a low carbon world?’ – recognised that emissions reduction policies could ‘create risks and opportunities and a fiduciary duty to understand the potential nature of the risk in the short, medium and long term.’
The October 2015 blog post concluded: ‘Our policy in this area has been building incrementally and we’re still in the early stages…. And this is something we can brief you on as we go forward.’
So what has happened since then? We’ve seen the Paris Agreement signed, and national emissions reductions policies implemented across the world, bringing climate risks and opportunities very much into the short term outlook. Yet QSuper members have heard no more from the fund about how its climate risk policy has developed. The fund’s silence after the promises of its blog post is deafening.
Almost two years on, QSuper still does not mention climate change in its Sustainable Investing Policy, but does offer members an externally-managed option, which restricts investments in some of the most environmentally damaging fossil fuel industries. The Socially Responsible option is managed by AMP Capital, through its Responsible Investment Leaders Balanced Fund. It excludes investments in companies that have more than 20% exposure to:
- Mining thermal coal
- Exploration and development of oil sands
- Brown coal (or lignite) coal-fired power generation
- Transportation of oil from oil sands
- Conversion of coal to liquid fuels/feedstock.
QSuper has not joined any climate-specific investor groups, like the Investor Group on Climate Change, nor signed on to the Paris or Montreal climate pledges or the UN Principles for Responsible Investing.
What is QSuper invested in?
Of the limited holdings that are disclosed, we know that QSuper’s Balanced option is invested in a number pure play fossil fuel companies – including BP, Exxon, Shell and Woodside Petroleum – as well as large diversified fossil fuel producers BHP and Wesfarmers. (Holdings data as at 30/09/2016).
QSuper’s infrastructure investments are mostly managed by QIC (Queensland Investment Commission), which part-owns a number of projects that are exposed to physical and transition risks posed by climate change. For example, QIC has recognised the climate risks faced by its assets including the Brisbane Airport and Thames Water. But QSuper has done nothing to communicate information regarding these risks to its members, who ultimately bear the risk through their retirement savings.