Australian Retirement Trust (ART) has released its Net Zero 2050 Roadmap, which follows the commitment it adopted shortly after the fund’s merger in 2022 to have a net zero greenhouse gas emissions investment portfolio by 2050.
ART’s head of sustainable investments, Nicole Bradford, said: “As one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, Australian Retirement Trust’s Net Zero 2050 Roadmap takes a long-term view that aims to be pragmatic, measured, and actionable to help manage climate risk while safeguarding and growing the retirement savings of our members to help them retire well, with confidence.
“Our roadmap is led by guiding principles which recognise, most importantly, Australian Retirement Trust’s legal duty to our members.”
Among the key elements of the roadmap is a target of a net zero greenhouse gas emission investment portfolio by 2050, specifically referring to the Scope 3 category 15 (investments) emissions, while also targeting a 43 per cent reduction in emissions intensity by 2030.
“A key principle of our roadmap is that we cannot achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions investment portfolio by 2050 alone,” said Ms Bradford.
“We take seriously our role as an investor and have outlined activities which aim to support our emissions reduction targets by engaging with key stakeholders and encouraging investee companies to achieve real-world emission reductions towards a low carbon economy.
“Achieving a net zero greenhouse gas emissions investment portfolio by 2050 is going to take a combination of emissions reductions and capital for investments that support decarbonisation. Australian Retirement Trust has set a number of targets across a range of activities that will help guide us to our net zero 2050 goal.”
The super fund also has a target of engaging with 100 per cent of “priority companies” – those that together contribute 70 per cent of financed emissions – within its listed equities portfolio by 2030. ART said this target proposes to include formal objectives, timeframes, and escalation measures for direct engagements.
The fund added it has a target of portfolio alignment with 50 per cent of these “priority companies” to be “net zero” or “aligned” to a net zero pathway within listed equities by 2030.
ART’s chief investment officer, Ian Patrick, said: “At Australian Retirement Trust, our vision is to be Australia’s most chosen and trusted retirement partner. We aim to be a top-performing fund that delivers and advocates for what matters most to our more than 2.3 million members, as well as our people, and the communities in which we operate.
“The risks posed by climate change are some of the most significant of our time. Our members put their trust in ART to look after their retirement outcomes, and our Net Zero 2050 Roadmap aims to ensure that we have the guardrails to help us deliver on this commitment through our investments.
Mr Patrick added that an ongoing collaborative approach is a better way to transition towards a net zero economy and is “preferable to trying to address this individually”.
“Harnessing capital as a collective, with a unified voice, may add to the pace and help achieve the sizeable shift required to solve some of the challenges we as investors – and our society more broadly – are facing,” he said.
Australian Conservation Foundation corporate campaigner Jonathan Moylan said an increasing number of Australians want their super funds to be “protecting their retirement years from the impacts of the climate crisis”.
“One of Australia’s largest superannuation funds adopting a 2030 emissions target and an escalation framework sends a message to big polluters that climate inaction will have consequences at board level,” said Mr Moylan.
“This is genuine progress, but the surging nature of the climate crisis demands bolder commitments from such a powerful player.
“Given the progress ART has made in strengthening its climate change governance this year, including appointing Guy Debelle to the board and doubling the size of its sustainability team, it’s disappointing the company has not aimed higher than 43 per cent by 2030.
“ART has not provided much detail about its principles for the escalation framework, or how ART will assess companies’ alignment with its framework.”