April 6, 2016

350.org welcomes Monash University and ANU’s partial divestment commitments

MELBOURNE, April 6th: 350.org Australia, academics and campus fossil free groups have welcomed ANU and Monash University’s announcements that they will divest from coal companies.

ANU and Monash have a combined 1.5 billion dollars invested primarily through externally managed funds, and must now commit to divest from all fossil fuels.

In a statement released at a Council meeting last Friday, ANU said it would direct its fund manager to “exclude companies that draw more than 20 per cent of revenues from coal, gambling, tobacco or pornography.” Firmly placing coal amidst some of the most sordid and undesirable industries in the world.

Similarly, in a draft Environmental, Social and Governance statement released in March, Monash University said it will “require fund managers to identify, assess and reduce [investments in companies whose primary activity is coal production] over the next 12 months”.

This comes after a recent launch of a staff open letter at ANU – the second largest of it’s kind in the world with over 450 signatures – and the launch of a pledge by students to take bold action at Monash, ANU and five other universities.

Acknowledging there is still much to do to fully transition away from fossil fuels, Fossil Free Monash welcomed the university’s decision.

“This is an great first step towards Monash becoming 100% fossil fuel free. It is testament to the hard work of dozens of staff and students who have been campaigning for the university to divest over the past 2 years,” said Fossil Free Monash campaign coordinator, Rhyss Wyllie.

“With record breaking temperatures, a winter-less Arctic, mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, the time to get out of fossil fuels is now. If universities are serious about the future, they must divest from the whole fossil fuel industry.

“The campaign to get Monash to go fossil free does not end here. We will monitor Monash’s progress in getting out of its coal investments and ensure that they also divest from oil and gas investments in their externally managed funds.”

ANU lecturer and Fossil Free ANU spokesperson Luke Kemp supported the move, but called on the university to go further.

“The ANU’s move to decrease the carbon intensity of their investments and move away from coal is a welcome, positive step forward. It demonstrates that the ANU clearly recognises carbon exposure, and the risks of investing in fossil fuel companies.

“However, this is not enough. The ANU still invests in diversified mining companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. These companies may draw less than 20% of their revenue from coal, but they own substantial fossil fuel assets which often far exceed those of pure coal companies.There is  a world of difference between minimising risk and showing leadership. The ANU needs to divest the rest in order to show true climate leadership.”

These decisions from ANU and Monash are part of a much broader movement of institutions moving their money away from coal, oil and gas.

“Whilst coal does the most to pollute our climate, oil and gas do just as much if not more to corrupt our politics and ensure that a safe climate is unattainable. Like Big Coal, Big Oil and Gas are the major power players we need to expose in order to make space for progress. Coal divestment is an important first step in the fight to halt dangerous climate change, but winning this fight means that we must divest from all fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas” said Ray Yoshida from 350.org Australia.

In commencing the divestment process, Monash University joins over 500 institutions, representing $3.4 trillion globally, who have committed to sell their investments in coal, oil and gas companies. This includes Stanford and Oxford University, the Australian Capital Territory and City of Newcastle, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Media Contacts:

350.org Australia: Cam Klose 0490 436 948

Monash: Rhyss Wyllie: 0428 130 993

ANU: Luke Kemp: 0419 481 284