‘Move away from fossil fuel’
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.