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So-called Sustainable Superfunds

I’ve been looking at some Aussie Superfunds recently, the ones which claim to have either a specific ‘sustainable’ investment option, or even worse those which claim to have fully integrated sustainability into their investment process.  Whilst I can’t deny that their claims are true to a certain extent, the problem I have is with the really narrow definition of what constitutes sustainability.

The usual focus seems to be narrowly concentrated on energy production (coal/oil etc) which is of course really important.  The next areas tend to be things like emissions from vehicles (that normally means you and me) and air travel (again that’s you and me).  Once again, logical for focusing on these contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but what about the elephant in the room?

The elephant I am referring to is the global intensive food production industry, and in particular meat production.  This broad industry is responsible for very high levels of pollution, animal exploitation and greenhouse gas emissions and yet it isn’t an elephant that these big Superfunds have either spotted yet or, quite possibly,don’t want to look at.  To acknowledge that the elephant is big, important, and massively contributing to climate change would force them to extend their ‘sustainability’ work into some very uncomfortable areas.  If sustainability problems were dealt with in proportion to the impact they have, then all sustainable investment funds would have to do something about the intensive meat production system and treat differently all of the companies that rely on it.  They would have to engage on difficult personal issues (do I eat too much meat? Should I stop?), whereas dealing with energy production and car use isn’t really about changing our own lives too much, but getting other people and companies to be a bit better with what they do.

When I see these large funds start to talk about their elephant, embrace their elephant and come up with plans on how to deal (humanely) with the elephant, then I will take their sustainability claims seriously.

For more information about the environmental effects of intensive farming, go to

3 responses to “So-called Sustainable Superfunds”

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