First carbon neutral super fund named

The Federal Department of Environment and Energy has certified a $50 billion superannuation fund as Australia's first carbon neutral fund.

HESTA is the first super fund to be certified carbon neutral for emissions produced from its operations.

Chief executive Debby Blakey said the certification was a "fantastic" recognition to the fund's commitment to leadership in sustainability.

"We're passionate about championing long-term change for our members ... we understand our actions have a lasting effect, which is why over many years we've embedded carbon reduction initiatives across all of our business operations," she said.

She said the fund wants to be not only a responsible investor but also a responsible advocate, and a leader in the action it takes to reduce their environmental footprint.

Furthermore, HESTA has an "enduring focus" through its corporate responsibility plan to be efficient, socially minded and achieve carbon neutrality in its operations, she said.

"Sustainability is front-of-mind in everything we do as it's a core part of how we create ongoing efficiencies that benefit members," she said.

Blakely said the fund looked at operating sustainability in two levels, firstly, through examining how they can reduce their impact on the environment, and secondly, analyse the direct and indirect emissions.

Examples of measures the fund has implemented to reduce its footprint include hybrid vehicles, waste separation, the use of technology, intelligent design of its offices and employee education.

Projects to offset its carbon footprint include the purchase of a limited number of certified offsets, such as savanna burning projects that support Aboriginal employment in the Western Australia's Northern Kimberly region and tree planting initiatives in the Babinda rainforest.

It also looks at suppliers and partners to make sure they too operate sustainably.

"We want to lead through action, we're doing this by focusing on the broader impact we can have on the world our members live in and retire into by aligning our investments and actions with seven strategic UN Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change," Blakey said.

The carbon neutral certification is based on international standards and best practice carbon accounting.

The process to become certified includes carbon accounting, independent auditing and public disclosure.

According to the government department, to achieve carbon neutral certification, entities must "measure emissions, reduce these where possible, offset remaining emissions and publically report on their carbon neutrality".

HESTA is a member of the Investor Group on Climate Change and the Climate Action 100+, which push for improved climate change policy and action from governments and organisations around the globe.

In July this year, HESTA invested $20 million to help improve housing affordability and sustainability via a carbon-neutral, scalable apartment project in Brunswick, consisting of six buildings.

Read more: HESTAClimate ChangeFederal Department of Environment and EnergyDebby BlakeyClimate ActionInvestor GroupUN Sustainable Development Goals
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