Climate justice organisation 350 Aotearoa welcomes today’s announcement by Climate Change Minister, Hon James Shaw, that all Crown Financial Institutions will be required to report on their exposure to climate risk.

The announcement from Minister Shaw has put the spotlight back on the responsible investment standards of Aotearoa’s Crown Financial Institutions. “Mandatory climate risk reporting is a necessary first step to help us shine a light on our public funds’ exposure to unsustainable and unethical investments in fossil fuels, but reporting alone is not enough,” said 350 Aotearoa Co-Director, Erica Finnie.

“In the past month, we’ve seen outrage surrounding Kiwisaver investments in companies linked to the Saudi military. The Kiwisaver controversy has shown us that without responsible investment standards, we rely on individuals to take personal responsibility to know the potential harm of their investments. If our Prime Minister is unaware of the harm her Kiwisaver investments, how are the rest of us expected to manage this risk?”

“The Government has shown that it is willing to apply standards to private investment funds to set a standard for responsible investment by requiring our 9 default Kiwisaver funds to divest from fossil fuels. We need our Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to accept his responsibility to direct Crown Financial Institutions to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis and follow the direction of public policy and public appetite, and divest from harmful industries including coal, oil, and gas companies whose operations are driving the climate crisis.”

Finnie said “The New Zealand public rightly expects that the billions of dollars they entrust to our public funds are managed responsibly. Most New Zealanders will have no idea that our major Crown Financial Institutions currently have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in multinational coal, oil and gas companies. We all have a stake in our Crown Financial Institutions, and it is essential that these funds, including NZ Superfund and ACC’s Investment Fund, be held to the same responsible investment standard as private Kiwisaver funds.”

The announcement strengthens the application of the mandatory climate risk disclosure reporting framework announced last year by removing the $1 billion asset threshold and obliging all Crown financial institutions to report. 350 Aotearoa was among the majority of submitters that called on the Government to introduce mandatory climate-related disclosure during the public consultation in 2019.