What do they have in common?
Last week, the age dropped an article questioning the commitment of leading gas businesses to transition towards clean fuel solutions and net zero targets. The Age states that Alex Hillman “A former lobbyist and engineer at Australian energy giant Woodside, has accused the nation’s multibillion dollar gas industry of misleading the public over its role in the fight against climate change.”
Alex now works for the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), a shareholder advocacy group that uses shareholder resolutions and litigation to pressure companies to do more on climate. Considering his former employment at Woodside, the industry will have a tough time trying to discredit him. It will no doubt be an interesting read when the full details are released in the ACCR’s upcoming report.
As just another example of how big business and politicians play by their own rules, the news really doesn't come as much of a surprise to most. Is there anything that can actually be done about it?
For me, the key takeaway from the article is that these businesses have undue power to lobby the government and shape public policy to suit their agenda. Everyone knows that money makes the world go round - so it’s crucial that as individuals, and more broadly as a collective, we need to ensure that we are making it spin the right way, by putting our largest pots of money to good work.
Outside of a home, superannuation is likely to be one of the largest investments that you will own, and it’s important that you manage it! Our super balances combine to create the largest single industry in Australia, valued at over $3trillion. An amazing statistic from Make My Money Matter in the UK demonstrates that changing your fund can be 21x more impactful than becoming vegetarian, giving up flying, and changing energy providers, combined. Through the choices that we make with our super, we have the potential to create an enormous impact.
Moreover, the divestment of members’ super balances will start to hit super funds where it hurts the most - the balance sheet. The question will become: are we able to provide a truly sustainable investment option in order to stay relevant? This is where there is opportunity to create real change.
Large funds are some of the most powerful money managers and investors in the country, and increasingly the world as noted by the Financial Times. If individuals begin to actively vote with their money, by moving their super into sustainable strategies, funds will have no choice but to act. They will have to adapt their investment policies, or lose members. The knock on effect is that investment into fossil fuel industries should start to decrease. It's then up to those businesses to change tack, or to sail three sheets to the wind into the building storm, forest fire, or hurricane that they are currently helping to cause!
The fact of the matter is that large corporations have power. Politics can become complicated. But all is not lost. You can have an impact right now with one of your biggest assets - superannuation.
If 2021 showed us anything it is that the collective power of people is a force to be reckoned with!