ABC) Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn reflects on the bank’s past failures

“We’ve made a lot of progress and fortunately at the moment I’m much more likely to be… stopped in the street with: ‘Awaiting your annual results, I hope my dividend is doing well'”, did he declare. .

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“I think any senior leader should always recognize with humility that … you can do huge damage to your reputation very quickly. And so it’s about never resting on our laurels.

The ACSI conference in Melbourne on Thursday focused on environmental, social and governance issues, principles that have become more important to investors and businesses in recent years. These include issues of diversity, equality and culture within companies, and how they are tackling climate change.

Ethical investing has exploded as climate-conscious investors pile money into so-called green funds. But Australian regulators have warned companies they will crack down on “green laundering” which misleads investors into believing they are investing in accordance with ESG principles.

Head of transition investing at Brookfield Asset Management, Mark Carney, told the conference that investors such as super funds need to pressure the companies they invest in to move to net zero.

Earlier this year, Brookfield, in partnership with Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures investment vehicle, launched two takeover bids for AGL, promising to bring forward the closure of the coal-fired power plant fleet. ‘AGL in Victoria and NSW.

Carney, an economist and former banker who served as governor of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada, said investors had a responsibility to ensure the assets they owned became less carbon-intensive.

“In many cases … less sophisticated investors pursue an exit or divestment strategy, so they move away from emissions, instead of going to where the emissions are, identifying companies where they can reduce them,” did he declare. said.

“Our responsibility is to the assets we own and with the climate comes the responsibility to make sure they are transitioning, and we are not just committed to decarbonizing the portfolio, but actually transitioning those assets. .”

Former APRA member Geoff Summerhayes said it was a legitimate strategy to increase exposure to carbon-intensive assets to try to reduce their emissions, but it had to come with transparency.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of private equity activity in this area where there are carbon-intensive assets that can be accelerated to lower that intensity, and investors benefit from that transition path,” he said. -he declares.

“I think the ban on just saying we can’t invest in carbon-intensive assets isn’t helpful, but it comes with strings attached, and as investors, as providers credit providers and insurers, we need to be transparent about what we do. But we better have those assets inside the tent and work with them for the transition.

HESTA chief Debby Blakey said engaging with companies on how they are managing the low-carbon transition and driving greater action was more effective than divestment.

“Divestment alone will not reduce emissions, nor will it protect our members’ retirement savings that are invested throughout the economy,” she said.

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