The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) has today questioned global pension funds for their failure to follow through on their own climate change commitments, after the ANZ Bank climate resolution failed to pass yesterday.
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, commonly called ANZ, is the fourth largest bank by market capitalisation in Australia, after the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Banking Corporation and National Australia Bank. It has over 50,000 employees, 10 million customers and A$772 (£371b) billion in total assets
The lack of support seemed to contradict a range of existing policies and commitments made at the Paris COP21 summit. The climate resolution received only 5.38% in favour, despite US giant CalPERS, Australian Ethical Investment’s Advocacy Fund and Vision Super backing the proposal.
“With the ink not yet dry on the investor commitments from COP21, I imagine that UNFCCC and the investor groups are scratching their heads today. COP21 was packed to the rafters with investors talking up climate risk but give them their first chance to prove they can actually follow through and they fall dramatically short.” said AODP CEO Julian Poulter.
The ANZ vote was given specific focus in Australia with a massive campaign against the Australian superfunds with thousands of members contacting every one of the largest 100 funds to urge action against ANZ.
“The responses from funds back to members before the meeting shows we have a major accountability problem and an even worse climate risk issue. Some of the same funds who were in Paris told their members they wouldn’t reveal how they voted and some actually had the nerve to tell members they didn’t want to impact ANZ’s competitive advantage in lending to dirty industries!” added Poulter.
“What is the point of investors saying one thing and then doing another? They’ve actually voted for less disclosure and allowed ANZ to increase its emissions intensity in the face of warnings from the Bank of England and a host of other regulators.”
“ANZ still thinks it can ride a climate crisis and retain all the profits it has made for pension and superfund members around the world but the evidence is clear that they could lose a great deal – it is a disgrace that the current board get renumerated so heavily for leaving future retirement beneficiaries with a massive headache in later life.”
AODP revealed earlier this week that only two Australian asset owners along with CalPERS have confirmed they will vote in favour. Local Government Super and QSuper indicated to their members that they would refuse to support the resolution, with all other super funds refusing to disclose or ignoring their members’ requests entirely.
“I think we need a complete overhaul of how pension and superfunds disclose their voting intentions. Regulators can’t allow them to deceive their members over climate change by creating promises and then voting in the other direction or worse still making poor excuses for the banks. For some funds to argue it is unfair on ANZ is ludicrous – why don’t they raise resolutions on every single bank then? After all they are supposed to be responsible owners aren’t they?”
To see who owns the big four banks in Australia read this.