Pension Fund Share Voting Flies Against Paris Climate Commitments

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As the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) AGM nears this Thursday, the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) has revealed that almost all pension funds – including most Australian funds – contacted by their members refused to disclose their voting intentions for the first climate resolution in the world after the Paris COP21 climate talks.

ANZ is one of only 30 AA rated banks in the world and their AGM climate resolution is being seen as a litmus test for how investors respond to COP and the commitments made.

The ‘Vote Your Pension‘ platform allowed thousands of pension members to register their voting preference with over 95% voting for their pension fund to vote against ANZ.

However, giant Californian pension fund CalPERS last night announced they were going to support the resolution.

“With the ink not yet dry on the COP21 agreement, pension funds everywhere have this unique opportunity to put their commitments into action by cleaning up ANZ. So far they are largely absent. Why have commitments at COP not translated into real votes against one of the most carbon intensive banks? Members are entitled to know” said AODP CEO, Julian Poulter.

“Once again we see CalPERS and perhaps in time other leading US funds showing that they are not afraid to challenge these financial monoliths – but where are the European and Australian funds? Members are entitled to suspect greenwash unless their funds can quickly reveal that they are walking the talk on companies like ANZ” said Poulter

“We understand why some fiduciary investors do not want to divest from companies like ANZ, despite the high carbon intensity of ANZ’s portfolios, but engagement is now struggling for credibility – if funds can’t push a major bank only a few days after COP then when will they?”

The Vote Your Pension campaign focussed on Australian superannuation members whose funds are the largest holders of ANZ shares but so far none have committed to supporting the resolution.

“With Australia’s government finally sending the right signals on climate change, Australia’s superfunds seem scared of the power of ANZ as if they don’t want to rock the boat – with many other Aussie banks and superfunds holding the stock, it all seems a bit cosy.”