SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian funds managed by certified responsible investment funds grew almost a third to A$1.2 trillion ($877.6 billion), or about 40 percent of the industry, a report said on Wednesday.
That paled in comparison to the 71% jump in the funds that say they are responsible investors but did not achieve the minimum 15 out of 20 marks in a scorecard.
Almost nine out of 10 dollars in the A$3.1 trillion domestically-managed fund industry, were managed by those self-declared as responsible investors, compared to 61% a year earlier, the report by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) said.
None of the funds scored 20 out of 20, the report showed.
While "greenwashing", a practice where firms embellish their corporate, social or environmental credentials, rose in 2020, investor pressure has driven an acceleration in "net zero" emission targets by Australian companies.
Despite Australia’s out of step refusal to commit to net zero emissions target by 2050 alongside the rest of the world, more than half of the top 100 listed companies had committed to a net zero target, up from a fifth a year ago, according to Macquarie Group.
Under pressure to de-carbonise, companies are also turning to mergers and acquisition activity to meet those goals, as well as accelerating their use of so-called “sustainability-linked” debt.
“The reality remains that, despite such significant sums of capital committed to responsible investment in Australia and internationally, we remain far from being on target to achieve Paris Agreement commitments,” the RIAA report said.
Certified responsible investment funds were disclosing their full portfolio holdings, actively targeting sustainability outcomes and as well as supporting social and environmental shareholder resolutions, the report added.
($1 = 1.3674 Australian dollars)
Editing by Jacqueline Wong