Integral facets of Australian infrastructure such as Ausgrid, Melbourne Airport, Brisbane Airport, NSW Ports (Botany and Kembla), the Port of Brisbane, Southern Cross Station in Melbourne and Northern Territory Airports (Darwin and others), have all co-ordinated for the first time to set emissions reduction targets through 2030 and beyond.
IFM Investors, which owns or co-owns said assets on behalf of seven million working Australian members of industry superannuation funds, says the targets will see emissions reduced by more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 each year on the way to 2030, the equivalent of removing almost 70,000 cars from the road.
The initiative is even more significant for the fact that it represents a concerted activism from one of the nation’s largest pension funds. Historically pension funds have been passive investors but the policy shift in conglomerate funds like IFM Investors is a signal that pension funds are now pressuring companies seeking investment to curb emissions if the fund thinks its acting in its members best interests, or indeed, on their behalf.
It was the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) that really got the ball rolling on this enormous co-ordinated effort. Last year CEFC invested $150 million toward driving down the emissions of Australia’s largest infrastructure.
Ian Learmonth, CEFC CEO, said: “These infrastructure assets will operate for generations, with the targeted emissions reductions having the potential to make a material impact on cutting Australia’s carbon footprint. We congratulate IFM Investors and the asset managers for their leadership in lowering emissions and ensuring their businesses are making an important contribution to Australia’s abatement task.”
The emission cuts will be achieved by an assortment of initiatives, including LED lighting, smart management systems and energy efficient office spaces. But of course, rooftop and large scale solar will do much of the heavy lifting, especially considering the sheer quantity of land and roof-space these assets hold. And, moreover, the assets will actually be financially rewarded for their solar uptake in the energy savings on such large facilities.
“This comprehensive program of activity sets an important example for other major infrastructure owners and managers in Australia,” said Learmonth, “cutting carbon emissions can deliver a long-term dividend to the environment and in most cases an improved financial performance.”
IFM Investors’ head of Australian Infrastructure Michael Hanna seconded the notion and added that this initiative “represents a genuine commitment and start to aligning our assets to the Paris Agreement, and it makes perfect business sense by reducing costs, mitigating future business risks and contributing to outcomes that our customers value.”
The Clean Energy Regulator estimates that well over half of Australia’s total carbon output is accounted for by infrastructure, of course at least 50.3% of carbon emissions are made up by power stations themselves.
IFM Investors is using its Australian experience as a testing ground and will look to apply lessons learnt to its infrastructure assets globally, assets predominantly located in Europe and North America.