Prince Charles has called for more targeted investment to drive down carbon emissions in an address to the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees annual conference on Tuesday.
The Prince said long-term financial investment by pension funds must be combined with environmental targets to provide sustainable futures for members.
“I am, therefore, enormously encouraged to hear of the ambition of several Australian superannuation funds to achieve net zero carbon emissions in their investment portfolios,” he told the conference in a pre-recorded video message.
“They will be doing so in the best financial interests of their members, given the risks that global warming and climate change present to each fund’s long-term investment performance.”
Although some funds have taken the initiative and committed to net zero by 2050, Prince Charles said an international target covering financial institutions was needed to deliver global results.
“My great and abiding hope is that by C.O.P. 26 in November, we will see global financial institutions, such as superannuation funds, announce to their members and shareholders their own roadmaps that define the steps they will take to bring their portfolios more rapidly to net zero,” the Prince said.
“After all, there are trillions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance and asset portfolios looking for investible projects that are genuinely sustainable, with good long-term value and strong rates of return.”
Prince Charles said Australia’s superannuation movement was growing in financial power and was increasingly influential in the economy.
“Australian profit-to-members superannuation funds now have substantial shareholdings in many companies, including some of Australia’s biggest corporations,” he said.
“Investment strategies that consider climate risk, coupled with zero-emission timetables, will therefore have a big impact in driving the low carbon transition of companies, not only in your investment portfolios, but in the wider economy.”
The Prince is a long-standing campaigner for environmental causes and recently established an initiative called the Terra Carta, a charter that he hopes private-sector leaders will sign in a bid to drive more sustainable investments.
Unveiled in January 2021, the charter aims to create a centre of gravity for collective and ambitious action towards sustainable development over the nine years to 2030, he said.
The Carta draws inspiration from the Magna Carta, which was signed in 1215 by King John in Runnymede, England, and which is regarded as the foundation of basic human rights.
“It is time to extend universal rights not just to humanity but also to nature,” the Prince said in his video address.
The Terra Carta has established an investment alliance that aims to win support from investor groups managing $US10 billion by 2022.
“This alliance seeks to foster impact-oriented, natural capital investment solutions for institutional investors,” the Prince said, citing carbon offsets and reducing emissions from avoiding land clearing as government initiatives that could be expanded.
Prince Charles also identified the profit-to-members superannuation movement as “pioneering leaders in social justice for older Australians”.
“This is an opportunity to further advance your leadership to improve the health of our planet for the benefit of future generations,” he said.
“After all, as this ghastly pandemic has shown us, human health, economic health and planetary health are fundamentally interconnected.
“Similarly, it has shown us that we are not safe until we are all safe – so now is the time for meaningful and urgent global action.”
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