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Climate change spurs Medibank fossil fuel divestment

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PRESS RELEASE

Monday 13 November, 2017: Medibank’s announcement it will divest tens of millions of dollars from fossil fuels due to the ‘health effects of climate change’ has been welcomed by environmental finance group Market Forces.

The decision came today in an ASX statement in advance of the health insurer’s Melbourne AGM, with Chairwoman Elizabeth Alexander stating “Medibank acknowledges the science of climate change and the impacts on human health”.

“As the global economy makes the transition to low-carbon emitting energy we believe it is important that our investment portfolio reflects this. As a result we will be transitioning to low carbon investments in our international investment portfolio within the next 12 months. We are also committed to exploring a similar approach within our domestic equity portfolio.”

“It’s extremely positive that Medibank has ended its unhealthy addiction to fossil fuels,” said Market Forces Campaigner Pablo Brait. “The medical profession has long understood that climate change has a devastating effect on people’s health, so it stands to reason medical insurers should not be invested in the industries which drive it.”

With the world’s most prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, describing climate change as the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century, Market Forces has led a campaign resulting in thousands of customers calling on their health insurers to end fossil fuel-related investments.

Medibank is Australia’s largest private health insurer with over 3.8 million members and annual revenue of over $6 billion. Today’s divestment means all of Australia’s major health insurers have now agreed to shift their money from fossil fuels.

Bupa informed Market Forces it isn’t invested in company shares at all, while both NIB and HCF have recognised the impacts fossil fuels have on health by shifting their international equities portfolio into a product that screens out coal and tar sands companies, as well as those with significant fossil fuel reserves.

HCF stated that it was divesting for the same reasons that it divested from tobacco – that is, the impacts of that industry on customers’ health.

“Today’s divestment by Medibank is critical in that it once again shows that transitioning out of fossil fuels is essential for a healthy society,” said Brait.  

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