A second Australian local government has joined the international fossil fuel divestment movement, with the council of Marrickville, in NSW’s inner west, voting to offload its investments fossil fuels including coal and coal-seam gas.
Marrickville Councillors agreed on Tuesday, nine votes to two, to carry a motion moved by Councillor Max Phillips to favour financial institutions that avoid funding fossil fuels.
This will mean bypassing Australia’s Big Four banks – Westpac, Commonwealth, ANZ and NAB – none of which have shown any signs of backing away from fossil fuel projects.
As first step, the council plans to ensure that over $15 million of its investment portfolio is fossil fuel free, with the view to increasing this amount.
The money will be reinvested in fossil free institutions in comparable risk and reward categories.
“Marrickville Council has a strong commitment to combating climate change, with programs aimed at cutting emissions. 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,” said Cr Phillips.
Marrickville – the first NSW council to go fossil free, follows closely behind Victoria’s Moreland City Council, which voted last October to join the divestment campaign.
The Moreland Council’s decision followed months of engagement with the community on the issue, including a petition with over 1000 signatures and a community forum held in August which attracted over 100 people.
At the time, it was reported that 30 cities and counties internationally had made similar commitments, including Seattle, Dunedin, and Oxford.
In Australia, similar divestment commitments have been made by Local Government Super, the Anglican Diocese of Perth and the Australian National University.