Niamh O'Flynn Niamh O'Flynn, October 25, 2016

 

Open Letter to the New Zealand Super Fund

26 October 2016

Dear Mr Orr,

 

As the CEO of NZ Super Fund, we realise that you are concerned with providing a secure future for New Zealanders to retire into, and must endeavour to serve our best interests.

For this reason, we are pleased that you have announced climate-focused investment standards. It was good to see that you  are responding to the concerns of increasing number of New Zealanders who want to make sure that their money is not invested in climate change. It seems as though you are making great progress in this area, however we feel that your stance on fossil fuel investment needs to go further, to draw a clear line in the sand with the fossil fuel industry. We urge you to make your climate change response unequivocal and withdraw all your investments (divest) from the coal, oil and gas projects that are driving climate change.

Earlier this year, New Zealanders were shocked to hear that our retirement savings are being invested in cluster bombs and nuclear weapons, things that kill and harm people and our planet. Like armaments, the warming caused by fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas is responsible for causing severe impacts on people’s lives. Through drought, flooding, rising seas and extreme heatwaves, fossil fuels are like cluster bombs for the climate, harming the planet on which we depend on to survive.

We are pleased to learn that the NZ Super Fund is hosting an international conference on climate change for sovereign wealth funds. We hope that you will reconsider your decision to engage with the fossil fuel industry, and fully divest from fossil fuels instead.

Unfortunately, shareholder engagement with the fossil fuel industry is not effective, and the science tells us that we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. After years of unsuccessful engagement, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund decided to fully divest from the fossil fuel industry because of its impact on the climate. Engagement does not work with a company whose primary source of profit is fossil fuels since they rely on that industry to continue existing.

You have said, “As a long-term, inter-generational investor, we need to understand the investment risks and opportunities associated with climate change.” Those risks are clearer now than ever before. A new study released by Oil Change International, in partnership with 14 organisations from around the world, shows that not a single new coal mine or oil well can be built if we are to meet the Paris Climate Agreement and prevent global warming from cooking the planet.

NZ Super Fund was established specifically to provide New Zealanders with a safe and secure future to retire into. Burning fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil is the single greatest threat to that future and should therefore not form any part of the Super Fund’s investment portfolio.

The NZ Super Fund has in the past prided itself on being a leader in responsible investment. With the knowledge we have today, it is no longer possible to claim to be a responsible investor without also fully divesting from fossil fuels.

We, the undersigned organisations, call on the NZ Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels, by:

  1. Making no new investments  in coal, oil and gas projects
  2. Committing to withdraw all current investments in fossil fuel extraction and production companies within the next three years

We look forward to your leadership on this issue.

Sincerely,

350 Aotearoa, Oxfam New Zealand, The New Zealand Public Service Association, Greenpeace New Zealand, World Wildlife Fund NZ, 1222 members of Action Station, Health Sector Workers Network, Unite Union, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Auckland Diocesan Climate Change Action Group, Anglican Diocese of Wellington

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