July 27, 2016

Sydney Council Moves Toward Fossil Fuel Divestment

SYDNEY, 27 July 2016 — 350.org welcomed the news that the Sydney City Council intends to move away from banks that invest in fossil fuels as communicated at Sydney’s  most recent Council meeting on 25 July.

The Council indicated on Monday night that it will formally consider a report recommending further strengthening of its Socially Responsible Investment policy to:

  • State that preference will be given to financial institutions and products that meet its socially responsible criteria
  • Expand the current definitions of environmentally harmful activities to clarify that coal, gas and oil production are harmful activities

Dr Jason Wu, a Sydney resident pushing for Sydney  divestment said this would be a step in the right direction for the Council.

“This is a significant step towards ensuring that the Council’s impressive sustainability measures are matched by a commitment to ensure its money is not used to prop up the fossil fuel industry.”

“Naturally 350.org encourages the Council to continue to comply with all risk parameters, and ensure return rates are comparable or better than may be achieved from fossil fuel investments. Our research clearly indicates that fossil free investments are increasingly profitable compared to investments in the fossil fuel industry.”

“This is an entirely responsible and conservative financial strategy that  has already been successfully adopted by 21 other Australian local councils,” Wu said.

“This is an issue of vital concern to many inner city people and businesses. If we don’t actively seek to reduce investment in the fossil fuel industry, there is little hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”

The Council passed an environmental action plan committing the entire local government area to net zero emissions by 2050 on Monday night.

The Environmental Action 2016-2021 Strategy and Action plan will also see 50 per cent of the council’s electricity provided by renewables by 2021 – a large leap from the current three per cent – and 50 per cent of the LGA’s electricity from renewables by 2030.

350.org Australia CEO congratulated the Council on this resolution and encouraged the Council to  divest its  $600m in assets from fossil fuels to be consistent with the city’s low-carbon initiatives to ensure it is not funding climate change through its holdings

“Sydney has been a global leader in its efforts to become a zero carbon city and has trialled some import designs and technology to dramatically reduce emissions so a move to divest from fossil fuels would be another great step in becoming part of the climate change solution,” said 350.org CEO Blair Palese.

When Sydney Council divest, they will join over 500 institutions worldwide, representing US$3.4 trillion. These include include the City of Melbourne, The Australian Capital Territory, the City of Newcastle as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, and the universities of Oxford and Stanford.

If the report fails to be finalised before the current Council faces re-election in September, 350.org has indicated it will seek to ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to state their position on the proposal to divest in the lead up to the election.
CONTACT: Blair Palese, 350.org CEO – 0414 659 511, blair@350.org