Supriya Ghosh

Australian Local Government Fossil Fuel Divestment

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Australian Local Government Fossil Fuel Divestment

In Australia, fossil fuel divestment is being led by Universities and Local Councils. In 2015, the number of Australian councils with divestment commitments increased dramatically from 2 to 17. On 15 September 2016, the status of Australian council divestment was:

Contents

  • Fossil free investment funds held by Australian Local Councils: $6,181,195,620
  • Number of Local Councils with fossil free divestment commitments: 27
  • Most Australian councils cannot invest in shares, meaning they have no investments directly in climate-change-contributing fossil fuel companies. However, most councils have exposure to fossil fuels via their term deposit accounts with the big Australian banks whom in turn are financing billions of dollars worth of coal and gas projects across the country. Many councils have been identifying their exposure to 'fossil' banks and have found that the majority of Australian banks (particularly banks other than the 'big four') do not provide finance for the fossil fuel industry.

    Research on which banks fund the fossil fuel industry, and those that do not, has been completed and is routinely updated by Market Forces an independent research organisation. Although there have been some public commitments indicating the Australian 'big four' banks will not invest in certain fossil fuel related projects, at 30 June 2016, the 'big four' remain heavily invested in fossil fuel.

    Local Council Divestment by State or Territory

    Local Councils in Australia are the level of government that is most in touch with wishes and needs of the local community. A growing number of local councils have made commitments to divest their funds from fossil fuel companies and institutions.

    Commitments and Documentation
    The following tables summarize the divestment actions and commitments of Australian local councils. The table includes references to documents recording council investment & divestment policies and divestment motions that were put before the council, voted on and passed. These documents can be used as a reference point for other councils considering fossil fuel divestment.

    Council Amalgamations and Changes
    Note in 2016, several NSW local councils were subject to forced amalgamation by the NSW State Government. These councils were put under administration and the democratically elected councillors were sacked. The councils currently continue to operate but it is expected there will be changes resulting from the mergers and enforced state government policy. The motivation and justification for amalgamation appears to be due to objection to the proposed WestConnex motorway by the councils and the community. The Geographical boundaries of councils are also subject to periodic review. The following table refers to Councils as an organisational unit at the time the commitment is made.

    Australian Capital Territory

    The existence of local government in Australia is an exclusive "power of the states or territories". Due to the relative small size of the ACT, there are no smaller local governments. The ACT government is responsible for the roles that are otherwise performed by a local council.

    Other States

    In South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, there are no known council fossil fuel divestments at this time.

    References

    Australian Local Government Fossil Fuel Divestment Wikipedia


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