Calls to di­vest from fos­sil fu­els

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

Auck­land Coun­cil and the Univer­sity of Auck­land are be­ing called on to pull in­vest­ments in coal, oil and gas.

On Tues­day cli­mate group 350 Aotearoa asked Auck­land Coun­cil to halt all new in­vest­ments in fos­sil fu­els and di­vest ex­ist­ing in­vest­ments within three years.

Last week more than 100 stu­dents from the Auck­land Univer­sity Med­i­cal Stu­dents As­so­ci­a­tion ral­lied against the Univer­sity of Auck­land for in­vest­ing in fos­sil fu­els.

The rally was part of a so far un­suc­cess­ful two-year cam­paign led by univer­sity group Fos­sil Free UoA to stop the univer­sity in­vest­ing in fos­sil fu­els.

A United Na­tions re­port pub­lished in De­cem­ber said $5.2 tril­lion had been di­vested from the in­dus­try by 688 or­gan­i­sa­tions across 76 coun­tries since 2011.

350 Aotearoa spokesper­son Niam O’Flynn said it be­lieved coun­cil would di­vest.

Dunedin City Coun­cil had al­ready di­vested from fos­sil fuel in­vest­ments while Christchurch City Coun­cil had par­tially di­vested.

Af­ter 350 Aotearoa pre­sented a pe­ti­tion on Tues­day coun­cil will de­cide whether to ap­prove a re­vised re­spon­si­ble in­vest­ment pol­icy.

The pro­posed pol­icy states coun­cil should seek in­vest­ments which re­strict ex­po­sure to com­pa­nies that had op­er­a­tions in­volv­ing weapons, to­bacco, fos­sil fu­els, and rev­enue gen­er­ated from gam­bling.

While the coun­cil could mod­ify its pol­icy, Univer­sity of Auck­land said it was more fo­cused on di­rect con­tri­bu­tions to the en­vi­ron­ment.

A univer­sity spokesper­son said it had no ju­ris­dic­tion over the Univer­sity of Auck­land Foun­da­tion, which was re­spon­si­ble for in­vest­ments, but it had a strong com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity.

As part of its strat­egy the univer­sity was seek­ing to re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion, waste and car­bon diox­ide, the spokesper­son said.

The spokesper­son said it was un­clear what con­sti­tuted a fos­sil fu­els com­pany since many com­pa­nies had mixed ac­tiv­i­ties.

How­ever, Univer­sity of Otago and Vic­to­ria Univer­sity of Welling­ton have di­vested and Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury has par­tially di­vested.

Fos­sil Free UoA es­ti­mates $1 mil­lion of the $108m in the Univer­sity of Auck­land Foun­da­tion was in­vested in the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try.

JAMES PASLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Alex John­ston says the Univer­sity of Auck­land’s rep­u­ta­tion is at stake.

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