Sydneysiders rally for divestment

One of Australia’s top 10 industry super funds, First State Super, has joined the divestment movement, ridding its socially responsible investment option of shares in companies that derive more than 20 per cent of revenue from fossil fuels.

According to 350.org, a letter to First State Super members on Wednesday said the company would “exclude companies that source more than 20 per cent of their operating revenues from the production, sale and distribution of fossil fuels, including thermal and coking coal, oil, natural gas, transmission or transportation for the purpose of exporting and/or non-household use (eg. power generation).”

Isaac Astill, a climate campaigner with 350.org, said it was a “bold first step” from the industry super fund, however the fund could do a lot more.

“With $51 billion in assets under management, a significant portion of First State Super’s portfolio is still invested in companies that are unlocking catastrophic climate change,” he said. “We look forward to them divesting from fossil fuels across their holdings.”

First State Super joins other Australian organisations like Newcastle Council, the ACT government and Australian National University in divesting from fossil fuel-exposed companies.

Last week, Canadian author Naomi Klein said Australia had the fastest-growing divestment movement in the world, while former EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told The Fifth Estate that the movement was a sign of changing business sentiment.

“One can argue that at this stage it’s merely symbolic, it’s politics, but investment patterns are changing,” she said.