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Australians Can Help Address Climate Change Through Their Retirement Savings

Australia’s original climate-friendly super fund manager, Australian Ethical and Zali Steggall OAM are urging Australians to open their eyes to the power of their super (the Australian equivalent of a pension fund), after new calculations revealed Australians have an unprecedented opportunity to address climate change through their super savings.

The average Australian might feel their super can’t make a huge difference, but super is often the largest lump sum of savings many of us hold at any given point, with the average Australian balance ranging between $24,000 (25 years old) and $523,000 (65 years old).

And new calculations now show that if every single person in Australia put their super into a climate-friendly fund, it would collectively result in a carbon footprint reduction that is equal to half the household emissions across all of Australia.

Australian Ethical calculated that the difference between putting Australia’s $3 trillion pool of super into a climate-friendly fund, versus one that was not, was equivalent to a lower carbon footprint of around 78 million tons of carbon (CO2e) per year, or the same as:

  • 4.6 million average Australian households (half the total number of households in Australia),
  • 16.9 million cars on the road (close to the total number of cars in Australia of 20 million),
  • 1 million tankers of petrol, or
  • 3.3 million trucks of waste being recycled instead of going to landfill every year (the equivalent of 3 tonnes of waste per Australian household).

Australian Ethical pointed out that ceasing to invest in carbon-intensive companies does not actually mean the emissions produced by those companies will stop occurring overnight.

However, taking money away from these companies sends a strong signal and hurts their back pocket, which can drive a positive change in their behaviour, or even render them unviable if they continue to pollute at the same levels. This could turbocharge the impact of other efforts, such as recycling, saying no to plastic, or reducing meat consumption, says Australian Ethical.

John McMurdo, CEO of Australian Ethical, said: “It’s an alarming truth that many – if not most – Australians don’t actually know what their super funds are invested in. This means that your money could be supporting companies that completely undermine your values, like those related to climate change.

“Opening your eyes to where your money is being invested and making a change could be the fastest and most impactful thing every Australian can do, right now, to help solve the climate crisis.

“It can sometimes feel like the fate of our planet rests on individual people taking lots of small actions. But instead of just saying no to using harmful products and services, we can also use our money to remove support for their production in the first place, creating an enormous collective difference.

“And while climate change may be one of our planet’s biggest challenges right now, we’d love to see Australians opening their eyes to the way their money can either help or hinder issues in so many different areas like human rights, gender equality, and animal protections.

“An added bonus is that it doesn’t require making any personal or financial sacrifices. Ethical funds can also be some of Australia’s best performing.”


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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