Sydneysiders rally for divestment

Marrickville Council in the inner west of Sydney has become the first council in NSW to commit to fossil fuel divestment, following the moves of Moreland Council in Melbourne and Fremantle Council in Western Australia.

Councillors voted to give preference to financial institutions that do not invest in or finance fossil fuels where the interest rate and credit rating of the alternate financial institution is comparable.

The move was spearheaded by Greens councillor Max Phillips with support from divestment action group 350.org. According to a 350.org release, the policy will initially lead to around a quarter of the council’s investments – around $15 million – being put in non-fossil-fuel exposed banks, with an aim to increase the figure. However, Marrickville Council says the target of $15 million includes $11 million already invested with non-fossil fuel lending institutions.

“Marrickville Council has a strong commitment to combating climate change, with programs aimed at cutting emissions,” Mr Phillips said. “By adopting this motion we will prefer financial institutions that avoid funding fossil fuels, such as coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef, or coal seam gas projects in Camden.

“I’m pleased that Marrickville Council will be joining other organisations and institutions from around Australia and the world in divesting from fossil fuels. The divestment movement supported by 350.org and Market Forces is growing extremely quickly and has the big polluters worried.”

Under the policy, the big four banks – ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac – would be avoided in favour of fossil free institutions with comparable risk and interest categories.

“When investments mature, council officers will seek to reinvest the maturing funds in accordance with council’s investment policy and the council resolution adopted by council at its meeting in November 2014,” a Marrickville Council spokeswoman told The Fifth Estate.