Members call on QSuper to manage climate risk

Lawyers acting for two QSuper members have written to the superannuation fund calling on it to strengthen its policies to better manage climate change risk on behalf of its clients.

Equity Generation Lawyers’ letter calls on the chairman of QSuper’s board, Don Luke, to:

  • explain why QSuper has delayed quantifying the fund’s carbon exposure
  • commit to fully disclose all its equity holdings by 31 December 2021
  • clarify the steps QSuper is taking to achieve net zero emissions across its portfolio, including plans to divest from existing assets.

Equity Generation Lawyers’ principal, David Barnden, who represented Mark McVeigh in his landmark case against REST Super, said QSuper appears to have not sufficiently analysed the fund’s climate risks contrary to its obligations as a superannuation trustee.

“For years regulators have considered climate change to be a material financial risk to super fund investments,” Mr Barnden said.

“QSuper, like other superannuation funds, must act in members’ best interests. This means comprehensively understanding and managing the financial risks posed by climate change.

“QSuper’s delay in taking steps to understand climate change risk means the trustee may not have the information it needs to protect members from stranded assets in the current transition to a low carbon world. QSuper is well behind acceptable industry practice.”

In March, 141 QSuper members wrote to the fund urging it take climate change seriously and divest from high-emitting assets.

Members called on QSuper to disclose the fund’s emission reduction strategies and climate engagement strategies and analysis the fund had conducted on climate change risk.

Leading superannuation funds, like HESTA and Australian Super, have been measuring the carbon footprint of their portfolios for years.

“To truly represent its members’ best interests QSuper needs stronger climate policies,” said May House, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Economic Analyst and Campaigner.

“Without a strategy to reduce emissions, QSuper’s statement that it is incorporating the goals of the Paris climate agreement lacks credibility.

“The latest science shows we need to slash our climate pollution over the next ten years and reach net zero by 2035 if we are to have any chance of limiting temperature rises to 1.5°C.”

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