April 19, 2014

We have divested for a safe climate

Last year when the Environment Collective at the Australian National University (ANU) and Fossil Free ACT (350.org Canberra) put in applications to become member groups of the Conservation Council ACT Region the decision was pretty easy. Yes. Though it did raise a question – so their key campaign focus is on getting ANU and the ACT Government to divest from ‘investments’ that support coal, oil and gas projects. So what about us as the Conservation Council holding our investments, our funds, in one of the large banks funding fossil fuel projects?

So we did some analysis on sustainability grounds and also practical considerations. pretty simple. Yes. We could make the switch to another bank, it would be good for the environment and make no real difference in our banking arrangements.

So in December last year the Conservation Council decided to switch from a big bank funding fossil fuel projects to a bank which did not. We were actually surprised at the number of alternatives we had.

It was simple to switch to an ethical bank and we learnt along the way that switching your bank doesn’t have to be a fuss. So no excuses, just do it!

That is why the Conservation Council ACT Region is strongly supportive of the National Day of Divestment. We need all individuals, institutions, business and government to take action to address climate change.

The Conservation Council is a passionate advocate for climate change action. We believe that reductions in order of 25-40% in greenhouse gas emissions in the medium term are required globally if we are to stay within a global temperature increase of less than 2 degrees and hence limit the more dangerous impacts of climate change. A key part of that is keeping some 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

Here in the ACT, we have Australia’s most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy targets. We have a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 on 1990 levels. We have a 90% renewable energy target by 2020. This is a cause to celebrate. However, it our job as an advocacy organisation which has worked hard for these targets, to make sure they are delivered. Achieving these targets is necessary however undermined if the ACT Government invests in fossil fuels in other places. We support 350.org Canberra’s Fossil Free ACT campaign and call on the ACT Government to divest from coal, oil and gas in order to fully address its commitment to tackling climate change at the local level.

We encourage other non-government organisations out there, big and small, to make a stand for a safe climate and divest. Institutions that choose to divest from corporations engaged in the extraction of coal, gas and oil are choosing not to profit from climate change. Let’s make our money work for a renewable energy future.

To keep in the know about the ACT region’s climate change actions and issues sign up to our monthly newsletter and please donate to support our work. Plus if you want to know more about an organisation making a switch away from fossil fuel investing banks to fossil fuel free investments please contact us atdirector@conservationcouncil.org.au