UniSuper’s carbon-neutral certification
Delivering great retirement outcomes requires that we play a role in shaping a future worth retiring for –a more sustainable future for people and our planet.
Environmental, Social and Governance (or “ESG”) principles
To achieve this, we’re guided by our Environmental, Social and Governance (or “ESG”) principles. Our principles extend beyond our goal of being recognised as a responsible and sustainable investor, and importantly focus on ways we can reduce the environmental impacts of our operations.
In addition to aiming for net-zero emissions in our investment portfolio by 2050, we’ve also activated several other initiatives to focus on decarbonising our corporate offices and operations. First and foremost, our carbon-neutral certification from an organisation called Climate Active, represents the collective effort by the Federal Government and Australian business to measure, reduce, and offset carbon emissions and lessen negative impacts on the environment.
UniSuper has been certified carbon-neutral for FY20 and FY21 and we remain committed to maintaining that carbon neutrality within the context of the broader 2050 net-zero goal for our investment portfolio.
What does ‘carbon-neutral’ and ‘net zero’ actually mean?
It simply means that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) being generated by an activity, like running a business or operating an investment portfolio, is offset to compensate, so there’s an equilibrium. In other words, whatever CO2 gets generated is also effectively removed from the atmosphere.
For our operational emissions, carbon neutrality is achieved by purchasing carbon offsets or carbon credits through various projects and initiatives. These initiatives address more than environmental impacts – they also address social issues, which in turn deliver societal benefits.
For example, one project provides employment and training to Aboriginal people in West Arnhem Land while supporting the preservation and transfer of traditional knowledge and language in that area. Another brings wind-powered clean electricity to rural communities in India, which provides a more reliable energy supply less prone to blackouts and boosts local employment. You can read more about these projects in our Climate Active Public Disclosure Statement.
Ways to reduce our carbon footprint
While carbon neutrality is a positive environmental initiative, it comes at a cost because offsetting involves purchasing carbon credits. Therefore, we’re looking for additional ways to reduce our carbon footprint – for example:
1. Reducing our emissions by:
- Sourcing renewable energy, with all our corporate office energy use (as a tenant) now coming from renewable energy provider GreenPower.
- Reducing the need for air travel and transport through technology that enables video and teleconference meetings and away-from-office work.
- Favouring office spaces with strong NABERS ratings, such as our head office in Melbourne.
2. Reducing waste and encouraging recycling:
- Cutting down office-generated waste that’s sent to landfill.
- Using less paper in the first place, while recycling the paper we must use (e.g. we’ve reduced the number of physical printers in our head office).
- Digitisation (e.g. favouring digital communication methods where appropriate, and paperless board and committee meetings).
- Sustainable disposal and recycling of electrical equipment via e-waste collection and battery recycling.
3. Sustainable procurement:
- Prioritising sustainable procurement of materials, lighting systems and furniture for office fit outs and refurbishments. There’s social benefits as well, with a recent UniSuper relocation successfully completed by Supply Nation registered business Orana Commercial Relocations, which is the first national Indigenous commercial relocation company in Australia.
We believe the creation of a sustainable future – one that’s truly worth retiring for – requires action be taken now. As such, we remain committed to investing and participating in initiatives that deliver positive impacts for people and the planet.