June 26, 2020 Read More →

HESTA, major Australian retirement fund, completes divestment from thermal coal

The Sydney Morning Herald:

The $52 billion super fund for healthcare workers has divested holdings in thermal coal companies under a new climate policy that commits to ‘net zero’ emissions across the entire portfolio by 2050.

HESTA’s updated climate plan involves reducing absolute carbon emissions across its investment portfolio by 33% within the decade and 100% by 2050, in an effort to bring its investment strategy in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The role of large super fund investors to limit emissions has increasingly come to the fore after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found there would be “long-lasting or irreversible” impacts to the environment if warming exceeded 1.5 degrees.

“Climate change is probably the single most important issue that we’ll be facing over the next century and really, for us, it’s so important because it’s a material financial risk for our portfolio,” HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said. “We are the generation that needs to address this, and we really do need an urgent response.”

The emissions reduction targets will apply to the fund’s entire portfolio – including passively held stocks and unlisted asset classes – and the plan also includes increasing investments in low-carbon assets, like renewable energy or green infrastructure.

HESTA’s new climate policy applies this exclusion to all thermal coal companies, including retrospective investments, and a spokesman confirmed the fund had divested from Coal India as well as its holding in Whitehaven Coal, a company running four coal mines in NSW and Queensland.

[Charlotte Grieve]

More: Super giant HESTA divests coal, commits to ‘net zero’ investments by 2050

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