15 Aug 2013

Call for super funds to move away from fossil fuels

10:34 pm on 15 August 2013

Environmental activists are intensifying campaigns over ethical investments in the superannuation and general investment business.

They want to move, by stages, towards a ban on investing in fossil fuels such as coal, gas or oil.

The World Wide Fund for Nature says the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and the Accident Compensation Corporation have about $1 billion invested in coal, gas or oil.

New Zealand campaign manager for WWF Peter Hardstaff says public money should not be invested in things that cause climate changing greenhouse gases.

The Superannuation Fund earlier banned investments in tobacco and nuclear weapons.

Chief executive Adrian Orr rejects moving on from fossil fuels but says the fund is aware of climate change, and seeks other energy investments.

"At present point the answer is no, we aren't considering divesting, they are such a significant part of the global economy, virtually by default we are exposed to those industries.

"But we're also always making sure that we are looking at alternative energy opportunities and thinking intergenerationally very hard."

ACC says it would never invest in activities it thinks that vast majority of New Zealanders would regard as unethical.

The debate comes as the Superannuation Fund is about to sell down its stake in Z Energy, the former retail arm of Shell Oil.