The 90,000-member Local Government Super is stripping out shares in companies with a material exposure to “high carbon sensitive” activities such as coal and tar sands mining and coal-fired power generation.
The move follows the Australian National University which last week announced it was dumping stocks to do with oil and resources and re-setting its investment policy along sustainable lines.
The $8 billion Local Government Super wants to combat the future impact of climate change on its portfolios.
The threshold for its “high carbon sensitive” policy has been set at a minimum of one-third of company revenue.
This is expected to mean a sell-off of about $25 million of shares in companies in coal mining or coal-fired electricity generation.
Peter Lambert, Local Government Super CEO, says climate change is an unarguable scientific reality and one which poses a very real investment risk.
“Governments around the world have begun to act on climate change, which is having a negative impact on the future outlook for the coal industry,” he says.
“This focus will likely continue as coal companies become increasingly difficult to be relied on as a low-cost energy source.
“Coal and oil sands are the most carbon intensive forms of energy and most susceptible to carbon regulatory risks.”
The fund believes support for these sectors will decrease as will shareholder value.
“In moving away from high carbon investments, we are supporting environmental and economic alternatives to investing in these sectors,” Lambert says.
“At the same time while the use of renewable energy will increase, it will not be able to meet all the energy needs around the world in a lower carbon future, so alternatives need to be considered.”
However, the fund is not blacklisting nuclear power.
“We believe nuclear energy is increasingly becoming a viable, low carbon emitting energy source globally,” he says
“Nuclear energy is currently the only proven alternative to fossil fuels that provides baseload power capacity, so outright exclusion of nuclear energy directly conflicts with our view on the importance of reducing our reliance on high carbon energy sources.”
Local Government Super also doesn’t invest in tobacco, gambling, armaments and old growth forests.