November 30, 2015

Report shows seven-fold growth in councils dumping fossil fuels

Local governments representing $5.5 billion have now committed to go fossil free.

(SYDNEY) – A report launched today by Australia highlights the growth in local governments divesting from fossil fuels. According to the report, councils that have committed to divest represent $5.5billion in funds under management. In addition, there has been a seven-fold growth in the number of councils moving their money out of coal, oil, and gas over the past year. From 2 councils divested at the end of 2014, with 14 local governments committed to going fossil free at the time of writing.

“Local governments of all political persuasions are leading the way when it comes to taking ambitious and much needed action on climate change. The size and number of councils divesting is only increasing. It’s high time our Federal Government read the writing on the wall and followed their lead,” said Isaac Astill, a divestment campaigner with Australia.

Divestment decisions are being made by diverse and significant local governments. Canberra was the world’s first national capital to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. Home to the world’s largest coal port, Newcastle City Council has also committed to divest, despite strong political and industry pressure not to. Last month the City of Melbourne, led by Liberal Party Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, joined the ranks of councils going fossil free.

Speaking about his council’s decision to divest last year, Dr Brad Pettitt, Mayor of the City of Fremantle, said: “It’s the responsibility of our banks, superannuation funds, and governments that have custody of our money to use this money to protect, and not damage, our environment.”

The decisions of local governments to divest from the big four banks due to their fossil fuel lendings is already sending a powerful message to the banks that supporting fossil fuels is bad for business.

“Lismore is on the frontline of the fight against the coal seam gas industry. Moving council money away from financial institutions that support the fossil fuel industry is a practical and sensible way for councils to ensure we are doing everything we can to leave this industry behind,” said Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell of her city’s decision to divest.

Globally, as momentum for local governments to divest grows, the divestment movement is escalating globally. Approximately 490 institutions have committed to divesting, equating to well over $US2.6 trillion of investment money. In the past 12 months, major institutions such as The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, one of the world’s largest insurance companies Allianz, and the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund have committed to divest.

The full report – Local Government Leadership on Fossil Fuel Divestment: A report into the growing movement of councils going fossil free – can be accessed here.

A full list of divestment commitments can be accessed here.

Contact: Krista Collard, 0424 712 034