Posts tagged ‘divestment’
Moreland Council, at their October 2015 meeting, adopted their first fossil fuel divestment strategy. This has been a long time in the planning and advocacy and comes after a successful campaign by Climate Action Moreland and 350Australia.
Moreland Council has proven to be a leader of cities in being pro-active in mitigation and climate adaptation, and in fossil fuel divestment. (see Fossil Fuel Divestment Strategy D15/295053)
Greens Councillor Samantha Ratnam posted this comment to Facebook:
Woohoo! After committing to divest from fossil fuels last year, Moreland Council tonight passed its first ever fossil fuel divestment strategy that will see us actively working to move away from even indirect fossil fuel investments through banks etc. A great step forwarded for the community and planet! Big thanks to all from 350.org and climate action moreland for all your work on this campaign.
Socialist Alliance Councillor Sue Bolton posted this to Facebook. Here she provides details on an amendment that can strengthen the divestment policy. Great to hear that the vote on council was also unanimous!
Moreland council divests from fossil fuel. A big tribute to 350.org and Climate Action Moreland for scoring a victory at the Moreland council meeting last night. 350.org and Climate Action Moreland spearheaded a 2-3 year long campaign for Moreland council to divest from fossil fuel. Last night’s council meeting crossed the final hurdle and decided to divest. the decision was unanimous. Without the grassroots campaign, the councillors would never have decided unanimously to divest.
The three councillors who worked with 350.org on this campaign were myself from Socialist Alliance, and the two Greens councillors Sam Ratnam and Lenka Thompson.
I got an amendment passed to make the policy stronger. The fossil fuel divestment policy recommended to council was only for positive screening ie. rewarding financial institutions that are not investing in fossil fuel. I think that isn’t good enough. There needs to be a penalty for companies investing in fossil fuel. Currently, the non-fossil fuel banks don’t provide all of the services that council needs so it can’t avoid using the services of some banks which invest in fossil fuel. This is the limitation of relying on the market for achieving social and environmental change.
I got an amendment passed that council looks at moving towards negative screening ie. penalising financial institutions which invest in fossil fuel.
This is a great step which Moreland council has made.
However, we have a long way to go to take effective action on climate change. The bushfires raging across Victoria this early in the season should ring alarm bells about climate change.
Our friends at 350.org are engaged in a divestment campaign to move money out of the big banks that are financing fossil fuel industry. The Commonwealth Bank is preparing to finance and provide loan guarantees to the Indian company Adani to develop the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin. This requires a train line to be built to the coast and a major upgrade to the Abbot Point port facilities.
Upgrading Abbot Point port facilities endangers the Great Barrier Reef through the dredging required, and the huge increase in shipping that will occurr once the infrastructure is in place.
Adani Power Ltd already has a net debt reaching US$7.4 billion in April and the Carmichael mine and associated infrastructure risks being stranded assets and a poor investment. Energy and Finance analyst Tim Buckley said on May 13 “At the end of the day, risking another $10 billion to try to make good on a poorly timed initial $1 billion investment is looking increasingly unlikely in the face of the halving of thermal seaborne since 2010.”
In conjunction with City of Moreland Council proceeding with a divestment process, Climate Action Moreland and 350.org have also written a joint discussion paper. We hope this provides useful independent information for council officers and Councillors to consider in moving the divestment process forward.
The summary of the paper states:
This report presents research undertaken since October last year by 350.org and Climate Action Moreland after the City of Moreland’s historic decision to commit to divesting from fossil fuels.
The major discussion points covered include:
- Moreland’s action is in line with progressive local governments around Australia and the world.
- For implementing fossil fuel divestment the publicly available research of the Market Forces organisation is sufficiently robust – and does not impose significant risks on the council – when used for the purpose of determining whether a financial institution finances fossil fuel developments.
- There is significant existing opportunity to shift council’s term deposit investments under current risk management guidelines to have a much greater proportion of invested funds held by institutions that do not invest in fossil fuels.
- Moreland council’s current investment policies for term deposits vary from other Victorian councils. As part of developing a fossil fuel divestment strategy they should be examined and justified to ensure they are not unnecessarily blocking fossil fuel divestment.
Download and read the discussion paper: City of Moreland Fossil Fuel Divestment Discussion Paper: 20150212 City of Moreland Divestment Discussion Paper
Many members of the Moreland community are proud that Moreland Council is one of the first municipal councils in Australia to start this divestment process and it accords well with the strong progessive leadership shown tackling greenhouse emissions with the launch of the Zero Carbon Moreland plan, increasing heatwave response, and mitigating urban heat island increased temperatures through increasing the urban tree canopy and other policies.
The Report and recommendations were a result of an in principle decision by Council on divestment at the October 2014 meeting, the culmination of a year long grassroots campaign by Climate Action Moreland and 350.org Australia.
Councillor Bolton moved an amendment to include both positive and negative filters and for a draft of the policy to be issued for community consultation. The Amendment was defeated.
The recommendations were then put to the meeting and overwhelmingly passed.
The motion read:
Council resolves to:
- Note that Council has no direct investments in companies that invest in fossil fuel projects, which is a key point of difference with the other organisations that have recently committed to a divestment strategy.
- Adopt a positive screening approach for Council’s investment with financial institutions:
- Actively invest with fossil free financial institutions within the Moreland City Council Investment Policy parameters;
- Advocate for fossil free financial institutions to improve their credit rating and financial rate of return;
- Work with large banks to improve their CSR and fossil free performance.
- Develop a Fossil Fuel Divestment Strategy based on the positive screening approach by June 2015 that will include the following:
- A summary of Council’s investments, financial services arrangements and loans.
- Strategies, actions, parameters and timelines of the best options to move Council’s investments to financial institutions that do not finance fossil fuel projects.
- A framework to maintain ongoing reporting and review of council’s banking to minimise indirect financing of fossil fuel projects and maintain public confidence that council is keeping its commitments.
You can read the full report as extracted from Moreland Council agenda for 11 February 2015: 20150211-DCS715-Fossil-Fuel-Divestment-options report and recommendation.
Our intrepid reporter John Englart reported the debate live via twitter:
Our successful year long campaign for Moreland Council to adopt a process to divest from fossil fuels won Climate Action Moreland and 350.org Australia an award from Environment Victoria.
The award was announced at Environment Victoria’s AGM and awards night at RMIT in the city on Wednesday 29 October 2014. We were one of 11 awards handed out to groups in recognition of their contributions to Victoria’s environment, sustainability or climate action. About 50 groups were nominated for awards.
Environment Victoria CEO, Mark Wakeham said “The extraordinary efforts of these groups and individuals are truly inspiring. They are true environmental champions. Speaking up for our environment can be a tough and often thankless task. Yet strong community voices have been fundamental to every major environmental outcome ever achieved in Victoria. We thank these outstanding individuals and organisations and the many other people across Victoria working hard to protect our magnificent environment.”
Take a bow Moreland residents. We couldn’t have done this without the many hundreds of people who signed our divestment petition, who talked with us and came along to our meetings and forums, who emailed or rang councillors, or went along to Council meetings.
Tonight the City of Moreland has become the first council in Victoria to rule out direct investments in fossil fuels and the first council in Australia to start developing a strategy to move investments away from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel developments.
It follows recent announcements from Industry superannuation funds HESTA and Local Government Super, statements from ANU and Sydney universities restricting coal investments, and decision by the Uniting Church in Australia and the Perth Anglican diocese to divest from high carbon fossil fuel and mining investments.
Local residents from Climate Action Moreland and 350.org were thrilled with the result at the council meeting, that Moreland Council is an Australian leader in climate action. This follows the launch of Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution program last Saturday to reduce community emissions by 22 per cent by 2020.
Over 1000 residents had signed a petition for the City of Moreland to make this decision to divest. The campaign also entailed a public meeting that attracted over 100 people on a cold and wet winter night, and outreach to residents and all councillors for this result to occurr.
Council motion on Fossil Fuel Divestment
Councillor Item – Proposed by Crs Samantha Ratnam, Lenka Thompson and Sue Bolton
In moving the motion Cr Thompson outlined the following, according to the minutes of the meeting:
Cr L Thompson advised Council that as part of its work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reflect its values in all areas it works in, the City of Moreland will seek to ensure that it is not investing money in ways that may directly or indirectly contribute to climate change. The City of Moreland commits to divest itself from the Fossil Fuel industry.
As well as avoiding direct investment in the fossil fuel industry, Moreland also recognises the role of many banks in financing new Fossil-fuel projects in Australia. For this reason the City of Moreland will work to change its banking practices to both minimise indirect investment in fossil fuels, and (where consistent with prudent financial management), direct other banking activities to institutions that do not fund fossil fuel investments.
Background: As part of its work to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions and reflect its values in all areas it works in, the City of Moreland will seek to ensure that it is not investing money in ways that may directly or indirectly contribute to Climate change. The City of Moreland commits to divest itself from the Fossil Fuel industry. As well as avoiding direct investment in the fossil fuel industry, Moreland also recognises the role of many banks in financing new Fossil-fuel projects in Australia. For this reason the City of Moreland will work to change its banking practices to both minimise indirect investment in fossil fuels, and (where consistent with prudent financial management) direct other banking activities to institutions that do not fund fossil fuel investments.
It is resolved that the City of Moreland:
1) Commits to not directly invest in any company for whom the extraction, production, refining, or distribution of fossil fuels forms a core part of their business strategy, nor in any company whose principal business involves providing infrastructure or services to companies previously mentioned.
2) Affirms its decision to limit the current financial services contract to three years and deny any automatic renewals to the present provider (the Commonwealth Bank) if it has not divested from Fossil Fuels at the expiry of the initial three year term.
3) That council receives a report by 28 February 2015 on:
a) fossil fuel divestment options
b) analysis on fossil fuel free investments available to council
c) Options and implications of divestment from fossil fuel
4) That the information generated in the report in point 3 (and pending consideration of the options and implications report by Councillors) be used to develop a fossil fuel divestment strategy by June 2015 that will include the following:
a) A summary of Council’s investments, financial services arrangements and loans
b) Strategies, actions and timelines of the best options to move council’s investments to financial institutions that do not finance fossil fuel projects
c) A framework to maintain ongoing reporting and review of council’s banking to minimise indirect financing of fossil fuel projects and maintain public confidence that council is keeping its commitments.
The motion was Carried 6/3
A Division was called and this is how our Councillors voted:
Cr Lenka Thompson
Cr Lita Gillies
Cr Sam Ratnam
Cr Helen Davidson
Cr Oscar Yildiz
Cr Sue Bolton
Cr John Kavanagh
Cr Rob Thompson
Deputy Mayor Meghan Hopper
Absent for vote:
Mayor Lambros Tapinos
Cr Michael Teti
Cr Sue Bolton explained the decision on Facebook the next day:
Last night’s council meeting took another step towards divesting from fossil fuel. There will be another two votes by council (February and June) before we can say that Moreland council has really divested from fossil fuel. Last night’s vote took us another step towards this goal. Six councillors voted in favour (myself, Lenka Thompson, Sam Ratnam, Lita Gillies, Helen Davidson and Oscar Yildiz). Three councillors voted against divestment (Meghan Hopper, John Kavanagh, Rob Thompson).
We are very excited to share the news that a draft divestment motion is presently being circulated amongst the councillors. It’s critical at this point in time that they know there is community support for the initiative. We have three councillors who have publicly declared support for divestment (L Thompson, S Bolton & S Ratnam). We need six votes to pass – but we want all the councillors to embrace and back the motion.
Our petition is nearing 1000 signatures but showing there’s even greater enthusiasm is important – we need your help to get this historic motion over the line! For those in Moreland, if you could take the time to contact your Councillors to let them know you support divestment, it could be the difference. For those outside Moreland please write to the councillors as well – most of you signed this petition when you were in Moreland to shop, party or visit friends/family, so you are part of our community. You can inform the councillors of your support in a variety of ways.
Use the sample text provided below or your own inspiration to write them an email.
Call/text the councillors directly
Post on the Councillor’s public facebook pages (for those that have them – see below)
Send them a tweet supporting divestment (for those on twitter – see below)
In our discussions with councillors so far, none have ruled out supporting a divestment motion – it’s important we keep all our comments positive and give councillors the encouragement they need.
Here are the contact details of the Councillors – please let them know you support divestment and they should – you can also let the three who have publicly supported divestment know that they have your support.