Media release

World first legal action to test trustee duties on climate risks filed against A$50 billion fund

October 03, 2018

Environmental Justice Australia, the legal practice representing 23 year old Mark McVeigh, has filed a new Federal Court claim against the trustee of A$50 billion superannuation fund, REST, for breaching its duties on climate risk.  

The updated claim alleges REST’s trustee failed to act with care, skill and diligence when investing for Mark, and failed to act in his best interests, by not properly considering the risks climate change poses to the fund’s investments.  

This landmark case asks the Federal Court of Australia to find that climate change risks must be taken into account when asset owners like REST manage other people’s money.  

Mark McVeigh, the REST member bringing the claim, said: 

“I thought my superannuation fund may not be doing enough on climate change. When I asked them for more information they didn’t tell me much, and now they say they have given me all the information they have.”  

“I’m concerned the fund isn’t taking climate change seriously when investing my money.”  

“The world is already seeing the impacts of global warming. My money should be managed in a way that makes climate change a priority.” 

David Barnden, Principal Lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, said: 

“Climate change represents a significant risk to investments.”  

“Like superannuation funds in Australia, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds across the world must act with care, skill and diligence. They also must act in the best interest of beneficiaries.” 

“This is an important test case on how asset owners should deal with climate change risks.” 

The claim alleges that to satisfy the trustee’s duties, REST must seek information from its investment managers about climate risks and comply with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). 

The Amended Concise Statement is available here.

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