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ACC are bankrolling the climate crisis

Written By: - Date published: 10:35 am, December 9th, 2019 - 18 comments
Categories: ACC, climate change, health - Tags: ,

There’s something particularly perverse about ACC funding industry that will cause so many health issues, but I guess it won’t be their problem because they only cover accidental injury and so it will be left to Health to pick up the pieces.

Rod Oram’s article addresses ACC’s dragging the chain in divestment by looking at their inadequate plan, and the problems of health.

ACC says: “Climate change, and reducing carbon emissions, is forefront in the minds of ACC and the business community both in New Zealand and overseas. ACC recognises this as a serious risk to the investment portfolio.”

But it offers platitudes not evidence of how it is managing that risk to its $44 billion of investments. The fund is meant to meet its Outstanding Claims Liability from clients suffering long-term or permanent disabilities. If the fund falls short, the Government will have to bail it out with higher ACC levies and/or funds from taxpayers.

While the Superannuation Fund is taking the lead on divestment, ACC’s response is,

In contrast, ACC espouses a simpler strategy on carbon. “If Parliament changed the law banning use of fossil fuels, ACC would stop investing in the production of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel producers would be added to our exclusion list,” ACC’s chair told the parliamentary select committee in August.

It’s not surprising that ACC’s Chair is Paula Rebstock, so perhaps also not surprising that ACC is missing proactive leadership on climate. The question remains whether the position is one of denialism or simply the desire to make some mon at the end of the world.

Oram points out that the government could give more direction to ACC, but won’t.

The Committee’s subsequent report on ACC’s policy said the Government had the power to give ACC greater guidance on its fossil fuel investments. But in response, the Government said it would not.

The case for strong government policies on the investment response to the climate emergency has been made many times by many regulators, most notably the Bank of England. In its most recent open letter on the subject in April, it wrote:

“Carbon emissions have to decline by 45 percent from 2010 levels over the next decade in order to reach net zero by 2050. This requires a massive reallocation of capital. If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.

“The prime responsibility for climate policy will continue to sit with governments. And the private sector will determine the success of the adjustment. But as financial policymakers and prudential supervisors, we cannot ignore the obvious risks before our eyes.

Ball’s in your court Labour, time to step up on Ardern’s Nuclear Free Moment.

18 comments on “ACC are bankrolling the climate crisis”

  1. pat 1

    “Carbon emissions have to decline by 45 percent from 2010 levels over the next decade in order to reach net zero by 2050. This requires a massive reallocation of capital. If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist."

    Oram correct IF governments do indeed move to meet the Paris targets, sadly to date there is no indication they are so the expected stranded assets may not eventuate any time soon

  2. "Why is ACC dragging the chain on fossil fuel divestment, and why is Labour letting them?"

    I think you'll find it's for much the same reason as other initiatives. 

    It's an "operational"  matter. The coalition will need to send signals of  policy change, possibly alongside an inquiry with one or two white and green papers Whereupon there'll need to be significant buy-in from all stakeholders going forward, and if we're lucky we could see something implemented in this space in time for the next election. Good things take time @ Weka.

    On the upside, I did just see a load of NZTA 'officials' driving an EV, presumably on their way to inspect the northern end of Transmision Gully. The blokes appeared to all have uniforms on too, though I noticed the little ladies that were accompanying them had to provide their own costumes

    • weka 2.1

      "The coalition will need to send signals of  policy change, possibly alongside an inquiry with one or two white and green papers"

      Are you seeing evidence of work on that?

      • OnceWasTim 2.1.1

        Not at all. What I am seeing is that the coalition are belatedly beginning to wake up to where various roadblocks are – something they should have considered 2 years ago when a Mark Richardson style forefinger waving would have been more effective.

        But nothing will surprise. I've almost given up caring. What will be will be.

        My only hope is that we'll at least get a second term (preferably L/G alone, but if necessary L/G/NZ1), and that the day after election day, they'll have come to their senses and have more than a first 100 days list to get on with (Shovel Ready as the okkers would say)

  3. Chris 3

    No surprises here.  ACC has an unflailing ability to dupe the government into believing everything it does is kosha.  Governments have been told for years now about the hateful way ACC treats claimants and the complete rorts that have gone on for decades but nothing is done to change this.  Just look at all the stories where people people have fought ACC for often years to either end up with nothing or to lose any modest pay out to pay back benefits or lawyers bills and sometimes even funeral costs.  A lot of government departments behave like this but many will buckle under a bit of pressure particularly bad publicity.  The difference with ACC is that they don't care how people are affected by their behaviour.  That's makes ACC a hateful organisation

  4. indiana 4

    "Ball’s in your court Labour, time to step up on Ardern’s Nuclear Free Moment."

    Do you honestly believe that Ardern will try to influence the ACC in anyway to invest in businesses that have lower returns and subsequently put the pressure back on workers to pay higher levies? 

    • weka 4.1

      Even if you don't give a shit about future generations, there's still the issue of fossil fuels being an unsafe investment. Read the link and do your homework.

  5. mike 5

    alot of the kiwisaver funds are way ahead off acc in ethical investment i know simplicity is i guess funds like simplicity can move alot faster

  6. KJT 6

    ACC does not need investment funding.

    It works perfectly well as a pay as you go service. Accumulating money is not, ACC's purpose.

    Money stolen from claimants and levy payers, to fatten it up for sale.


    • weka 6.1

      The article was talking about funding people with long term disabilities. How would that work with pay as you go?

      • KJT 6.1.1

        You simply set the levies up each year to cover them.

        It is not a mystery. Accident rates don't vary much year on year. Long term ones obviously even more predictable.

        It worked fine from the inception of ACC. Until the disaster capitalists decided to make it work less well, so private insurance could get a foothold.  Hobbling ACC , was intentional.

        And levies could still be lower. Or ACC, could pay claimants instead of all the sophistry about "age related degradation" and all the other money accumulating, crap.

        At present ACC has to fund, injuries, long term injuries, plus accumulating "investment" funds. Which were intended to fatten it up for sale. Until National decided public opposition would be too great, even for them.

        Even better if ACC was extended to illness and disability under the terms of the original scheme. There is enough billions in the kitty to more than pay for the change.

        • weka

          Are you saying that because of the accumulated funds ACC could increase coverage while decreasing levies? Eventually that wouldn't work though right (as the accumulated funds run out)? Or is there so much excess this isn't an issue?

          • KJT

            Levies have been increased, and payments to claimants decreased, so ACC , can accumulate money. The objects being to make it fatter, for sale, to make it less effective, in the usual way Neo-liberals like to make public provision inefficient to justify privatization, thefts,  and to a lesser extent to give the Government the illusion of having more capital.

            The point of saving is to meet future costs that cannot be funded from future income. ACC doesn’t have that problem. Saving money over and above funding needs, is simply ripping us, off.
            We need to reverse that process. ACC was, and obviously can be again, self funding without accumulating money. 

            • weka

              I have no problem with the analysis of neoliberal fuckery of ACC. I'm just not quite following the financial argument.

              When was the last time ACC was self funding? Pre-90s?

              • KJT

                ACC has always been self funding. Despite National’s accounting lies, a few years ago.
                Putting money aside is a, cost. It is money we are not spending now. Levies have to be higher, and payouts lower to allow for it. 

                There can be good reasons for savings. Like household savings now, so you have an income after you retire when you no longer have a wage.  Of course saving cuts the money you can spend, now!

                There is no good reason for ACC, to save, apart from a small buffer for Christchurch like events. . Costs, accidents, and income, including past ones, are stable year on year. If we suddenly had a doubling of accidents, unlikely, levies can be increased to cope. An annual surplus being salted aside, is not required.

  7. Ad 7

    +100 divestment is the very least this government could do. 

    Imagine an active government actually directing that the state funding agencies such as ACC, EQC, and NZSuper to  actively supported business working to reverse climate change. 


  8. Wally2 8

    ACC’s lifetime cost model assumes that in the future ACC will be privitised and will need to lower levies (premiums) by a substantial amount to get customers. Existing customers would then be a liability. The slush fund is supposed to cover the lifetime cost of the liability.

    However, the lifetime cost is an accounting nonsense based on guesswork as to claimants lifespan, guesswork in regards to investment management, guesswork in regards to government priorities, and guesswork as to share market, and exchange rate movements. 
    Given that the fund managers within ACC like being paid big dollars, and their pay check is calculated -in part- on the size of the managed investment portfolio the lifetime cost is padded as much as possible to “protect” their personal interests against the risk of investment failure. This has less than nothing to do with providing support to claimants.

    Pay as we go ( as we used to) only pays this years costs out of this years levy take.  The annual costs therefore are adjusted in keeping with inflation. Whereas, in a lifetime cost model ACC must also take wild guesses as to CPI increases over the next 5-10 decades and build those into the levies paid today. Can you guess how much a caregiver will cost in 40 years time?  Any sensible person would set the levy rate in 40 years time based on the wage structure in place in 40 years time! Not charge people today on todays guess of those wage costs.

    lifetime costs are a con job, used solely to pad ACC board members, and fund managers salaries and bonuses. The 40 Billion dollars doesn’t pay for future costs at all. The levies taken out of you pay, cover this years client payout, into the slush fund, and those fat salaries. A vanishing tiny portion of the fund does get used to fund accident prevention, but most of that is wasted on dvertising ececutive junkets.

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