Social media campaign connects retirement savings to climate risk management Media Release

Sep 29, 2012 - 12:30am

The social media platform “The Vital Few” launched in New York overnight is a vital and urgently needed new tool in climate activism that combines profound but not yet fully realised changes in global capitalism with the potential power of millions of retirement fund members and around $60 trillion in investment capital, said The Climate Institute, a founder and partner in the platform’s manager the Asset Owners Disclosure Project

“As Australians emerge groggily from the scare campaigns and toxic politics around the new carbon laws, they are being grimly reminded by historic arctic ice cap melts and unprecedented extreme weather events that the need for urgent climate action has only grown,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. 

“The Vital Few is a free platform that empowers millions of retirement fund members to help redirect their savings from high-carbon, high-risk investments to ones that can help secure a sustainable and prosperous low carbon future and ensure safe member returns.” 

“While some superannuation funds have spoken of the need for climate action and urged transparency in the emission reduction strategies of investee companies, it is an industry that has largely failed to demonstrate its responsibility to manage funds for the long term and its growing climate risks.”   

The campaign can be accessed at

Connor added: “In what has been described as the democratisation of global capital,  the largest pool of available investment capital is the around $60 trillion supposedly managed for the long term by the world’s retirement, insurance and sovereign wealth funds, yet Deutsche Bank estimates less than 2 per cent is invested in low-carbon assets.” 

“Shifting even a small percentage of these funds can make a significant impact in tackling climate change and, as proper long term risk management, requires no legislative change but such a shift would enhance globally emerging laws and policies that price and limit carbon pollution and encourage investment in clean energy.” 

“The Climate Institute will be working with trade unions, NGOs and online activist groups to engage their members with this platform as well as continuing our pioneering work which conducted the world’s first surveys of superannuation funds climate disclosure as the Australian arm of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project.” 

The Project issued disclosure requests to the world’s largest 1,000 asset owners in August and will publish its first global index of funds later this year. It is chaired by former leader of the Liberal Party Dr John Hewson AM. Board members include General Secretary of the ITUC Sharan Burrows, former head of risk at Goldman Sachs Bob Litterman and Dr Andrew Hilton OBE, Director of the London-based Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation.

“Australia is a significant global player, home to the fifth largest superannuation portfolio and one of the largest superannuation markets," said Connor. "Australians have a right to know where their hard earned retirement funds are invested, and have a say in influencing more sustainable investment decisions that not only improve their own retirement savings but also help secure a more prosperous and less risky global economy."

For more information
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299 

Click here to see the AODP's release on the Vital Few, which includes quotes from the Board members. 

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