October 23, 2013

Canberrans call on ACT Government to Divest!


From 12:30pm on Thursday October 24, outside the Legislative Assembly, Civic Square. 

The Canberra arm of global climate network 350.org today launches its new Fossil Free ACT campaign, calling on the ACT Government to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry.

Fossil Free ACT joins the fast growing global divestment that has seen hundreds of local campaigns emerge around the world, and thousands of people taking action in their communities against the coal, oil and gas reserves that scientists say we cannot burn.

The ACT Government prides itself on ambitious climate change policies and invests in solar energy. Yet it also invests in the coal, oil and gas companies that are driving climate change, increasing the occurrence of extreme weather and resisting the transition to a low carbon economy.

“It doesn’t matter how many solar panels we put up if we don’t leave most of the world’s coal, oil and gas unburned and in the ground,” said Fossil Free ACT spokesperson Josh Creaser. “Left unchallenged, the fossil fuel industry will churn through five times the emissions that will catapult the world past 2 degrees warming. The ACT Government has a financial and social responsibility to move its investments away from the fossil fuel industry, and we hope they will be a leader on this issue in Australia.”

American author and environmentalist Bill McKibben kick-started the Australian movement with his ‘Do The Maths’ tour, which attracted a sold-out audience at the ANU in June. His message was clear: the world must keep at least 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground, meaning fossil fuel companies are not socially or financially viable investments for the future.

Volunteers from all parts of the Canberra community have come together to be part of this campaign, and to call for leadership through investing in a safe climate for our city’s future.

“As we’ve seen with the Marriage Equality Bill, the ACT Government knows it takes leadership to make progress on difficult issues. Climate change is arguably the biggest issue of all that we face as a society, and the ACT Government must live up to its rhetoric. That is why our volunteer team of students, professionals and retirees have banded together to call on the government to join cities like San Francisco and Seattle and to live up to its ambitious sustainability policies by divesting from fossil fuels,” said Mr Creaser.

The divestment movement has spread at record speed, according to Oxford University research. It has grown faster than any previous divestment movement, and poses a major threat to the fossil fuel industry, particularly coal. There are hundreds of campaigns in local communities around the world, with 16 US cities already committed to divestment, including Seattle and San Francisco. Closer to home, the NSW/ACT Uniting Church has decided to divest from fossil fuels, and Fossil Free ANU has had recent success in pushing the ANU to implement a new policy on responsible investment.

350.org Canberra spokesperson: Josh Creaser, 0410 745 005Other speakers: 
Zac Hattfield-Dodds – Uniting Church
Gill King – Climate Action Canberra