‘Move away from fos­sil fuel’

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Tim Slater

THE City of Bel­mont has been en­cour­aged to di­vert some of its in­vest­ments away from fos­sil fuel-re­lated com­pa­nies as a tan­gi­ble way to tackle cli­mate change.

The pro­posal was made by Red­cliffe busi­ness pro­pri­etor Joyce Erceg in a sub­mis­sion to the City’s 2016-21 En­vi­ron­men­tal and Sus­tain­abil­ity Strat­egy.

Ms Erceg, who is also a mem­ber of the 350.org global cli­mate move­ment, said en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity needed a multi-lat­eral ap­proach.

“At present our fi­nan­cial model al­lows too much car­bon to be re­leased into the at­mos­phere, which is not sus­tain­able,” she said.

“Divest­ment seeks to speed up the shift from a high car­bon to a low car­bon econ­omy.

“It is driv­ing de­bate about where we place our in­vest­ments, so that we get the best out­comes for us, as in­di­vid­u­als, as com­mu­ni­ties and as a na­tion.”

A WA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion dis­cus­sion pa­per said the fos­sil fuel divest­ment move­ment has “grown ex­po­nen­tially within lo­cal gov­ern­ments across Aus­tralia in the last 18 months”.

“Divest­ment of fos­sil fu­els is a pol­icy lo­cal gov­ern­ments can pur­sue to align with their val­ues set out in their sus­tain­abil­ity and cli­mate change poli­cies,” the pa­per said.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ments are sig­nif­i­cant cus­tomers for banks, and they can use their in­flu­ence to en­cour­age banks to re­con­sider their fi­nan­cial sup­port for fos­sil fu­els.”

Ms Erceg said 25 coun­cils through­out Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing six in West­ern Aus­tralia, had in­vested funds with fos­sil fuel-free banks over the past three years.

“By plac­ing our in­vest­ment funds with banks which have stated they don’t in­vest in fos­sil fu­els we send a sig­nal to the wider com­mu­nity that we take the en­vi­ron­ment se­ri­ously, and that we don’t want to con­trib­ute in any way to its degra­da­tion,” she said.

“Preser­va­tion of cap­i­tal, the most im­por­tant is­sue for fi­nance de­part­ments and ratepay­ers, is eas­ily ad­dressed by im­ple­ment­ing the new clause when, and only when all ex­ist­ing con­di­tions re­gard­ing risk and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion are met.”

The six WA coun­cils who have so far taken part in the scheme are Fre­man­tle, Ar­madale, Gooma­lling, Stir­ling, East Fre­man­tle and Bassendean.

“This ini­tia­tive does not cost the coun­cil any­thing and shows ratepay­ers that it is do­ing its ut­most to ad­dress cli­mate change is­sues wher­ever it can,” Ms Erceg said.

City of Bel­mont chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Stu­art Cole said the City was re­view­ing all its poli­cies in­clud­ing the in­vest­ment pol­icy.

A re­cent WALGA state­ment said fos­sil fuel divest­ment was the op­po­site of an in­vest­ment.

“It sim­ply means shift­ing in­vest­ment out of stocks, bond, ac­counts or in­vest­ments funds which sup­port fos­sil fuel projects,” it said.

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