Carbon neutrality at UniSuper – how we bridge the emissions gap

We’re taking steps to stay carbon-neutral by reducing emissions in our internal operations, and supporting projects with environmental and social benefits.

We’re here to help our members create a future worth retiring for. But we know that even in our day-to-day operations, we have a role in ensuring it’s a sustainable future.

We endorse the Paris Agreement’s goals, and we want to help Australia fulfil its obligations as a signatory.

Being environmentally and socially responsible sits at the heart of our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint in our day-to-day operations, and in our carbon offsets. Our corporate operations have been carbon-neutral certified for FY20, FY21 and FY22 by Federal Government body Climate Active, and are awaiting certification for FY23. We’re also a member of the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS), acknowledging our strong links with university and research sector campuses.

Take a step inside UniSuper and read about how we’re seeking to reduce our carbon footprint within our own corporate operations.

What does carbon-neutral mean, and why is it important?

Think of carbon neutrality as bridging the emissions gap.

As a financial services firm, our level of emissions is generally not as large as some other industries—for example, we’re not like a manufacturer that builds and transports product, and therefore has a bigger carbon footprint. Yet we still generate emissions in our day-to-day work at offices and on-campus locations across the country. Think lighting and energy consumption, air travel and waste, to name a few.

To bridge the emissions gap, we buy carbon offsets through various projects and initiatives, which deliver ways of removing those emissions from the atmosphere such as vegetation regeneration. These seek to create an equilibrium—emissions vs removing those emissions.

We want our members to see a future worth retiring for, and part of that vision is a healthy, sustainable planet.

How do we reduce emissions in our internal operations?

We don’t just get our carbon-neutral certification by talking the talk—we walk the walk and set emissions reduction goals. We want to reduce emissions within our own corporate operations by 43% by 2030 from the FY20 base year, a goal we’re on track to achieve.

We’ve already taken a range of steps to promote and reduce our carbon emissions at UniSuper sites across Australia, working in tandem with offsets to bridge the emissions gap.

LED lighting was installed on each floor of our Melbourne office with the aim of reducing office energy usage by 40%—LED bulbs use approximately 75% less energy than more traditional bulbs. We’re working hard to install LED lighting in all our offices by December 2024.

Both air and road travel are common emitters. Employees have the option of choosing green travel as part of our Uber For Business partnership – in a hybrid or electric vehicle – we’re hoping to see 10% of all trips taken with this option. While air travel, meanwhile, will continue to be necessary for some activities, video conferencing has significantly reduced the need for it.

What do our offsets support?

The carbon offsets we buy deliver initiatives with both environmental and social impacts, both in Australia and abroad.

At home, we support the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) Project. These lands, around 480 kilometres east of Darwin, are extremely fire prone and that can mean dire impacts for people, plants and animals. The project is owned exclusively by First Nations custodians, responsible for the lands under fire management. It gives employment opportunities for local rangers who conduct controlled burns to remove bushfire fuels, enabling indigenous people to remain on and manage the country.

Abroad, we support the Katingan Peatland Project in Central Kalimantan Indonesia—it aims to prevent the destruction of this land. A peatland is a form of wetland which, in this case, stores a large amount of carbon naturally, and its conservation prevents its release into the environment. These wetlands are home to various endangered animal species, providing them vital continued habitat. The project also works with local communities to create a culture of sustainability and promote sustainable development through employment and education, reducing poverty in turn.

What about our investments?

Environment, social and governance (ESG) considerations form part of our investment process. We believe ESG is about investing in quality companies with good corporate practices and which we expect can deliver long-term returns for our members. As a large investor with over 70% of funds managed in-house, we’re able to engage with our largest investments on issues such as climate change. We expect the companies we invest in to set emissions reduction targets and to be transparent about their activities—you can learn more about this by reading our Climate report.

Want to learn more?

There’s more information about our efforts in this space here. You can also head over to the Climate Active website to read our report.

More like this

You might also be interested in:

UniSuper at Midsumma
UniSuper was a proud participant in Midsumma 2024. Read about what being involved in the famous carnival means for our proud LGBTQIA+ employees and allies.
How we’re addressing UniSuper’s gender pay gap
We recently released our first Gender Pay Gap Report. Read about the steps we’re taking to close the gender pay gap, and our commitment to creating a more equal future.
Managing modern slavery risks in our investments
Modern slavery is a significant and complex global issue impacting some of the most vulnerable people in society. It’s an important issue we consider at UniSuper when it comes to both our investments and in our own internal operations.
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.