Tonight the City of Moreland has become the first council in Victoria to rule out direct investments in fossil fuels and the first council in Australia to start developing a strategy to move investments away from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel developments.
Moreland joins around 30 cities internationally which have made similar commitments, including Seattle, Dunedin, and Oxford.
It follows recent announcements from Industry superannuation funds HESTA and Local Government Super, statements from ANU and Sydney universities restricting coal investments, and decision by the Uniting Church in Australia and the Perth Anglican diocese to divest from high carbon fossil fuel and mining investments.
Local residents from Climate Action Moreland and 350.org were thrilled with the result at the council meeting, that Moreland Council is an Australian leader in climate action. This follows the launch of Moreland's Zero Carbon Evolution program last Saturday to reduce community emissions by 22 per cent by 2020.
Over 1000 residents had signed a petition for the City of Moreland to make this decision to divest. The campaign also entailed a public meeting that attracted over 100 people on a cold and wet winter night, and outreach to residents and all councillors for this result to occurr.
Photo: Members of Climate Action Moreland and 350.org Australia celebrate the decision the following week at the regular meeting place, the Edinburgh Castle Hotel on Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Council motion on Fossil Fuel Divestment
Councillor Item - Proposed by Crs Samantha Ratnam, Lenka Thompson and Sue Bolton
In moving the motion Cr Thompson outlined the following, according to the minutes of the meeting:
Background: As part of its work to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions and reflect its values in all areas it works in, the City of Moreland will seek to ensure that it is not investing money in ways that may directly or indirectly contribute to Climate change. The City of Moreland commits to divest itself from the Fossil Fuel industry. As well as avoiding direct investment in the fossil fuel industry, Moreland also recognises the role of many banks in financing new Fossil-fuel projects in Australia. For this reason the City of Moreland will work to change its banking practices to both minimise indirect investment in fossil fuels, and (where consistent with prudent financial management) direct other banking activities to institutions that do not fund fossil fuel investments.
Cr L Thompson advised Council that as part of its work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reflect its values in all areas it works in, the City of Moreland will seek to ensure that it is not investing money in ways that may directly or indirectly contribute to climate change. The City of Moreland commits to divest itself from the Fossil Fuel industry.
As well as avoiding direct investment in the fossil fuel industry, Moreland also recognises the role of many banks in financing new Fossil-fuel projects in Australia. For this reason the City of Moreland will work to change its banking practices to both minimise indirect investment in fossil fuels, and (where consistent with prudent financial management), direct other banking activities to institutions that do not fund fossil fuel investments.
It is resolved that the City of Moreland:
1) Commits to not directly invest in any company for whom the extraction, production, refining, or distribution of fossil fuels forms a core part of their business strategy, nor in any company whose principal business involves providing infrastructure or services to companies previously mentioned.
2) Affirms its decision to limit the current financial services contract to three years and deny any automatic renewals to the present provider (the Commonwealth Bank) if it has not divested from Fossil Fuels at the expiry of the initial three year term.
3) That council receives a report by 28 February 2015 on:
a) fossil fuel divestment options
b) analysis on fossil fuel free investments available to council
c) Options and implications of divestment from fossil fuel
4) That the information generated in the report in point 3 (and pending consideration of the options and implications report by Councillors) be used to develop a fossil fuel divestment strategy by June 2015 that will include the following:
a) A summary of Council's investments, financial services arrangements and loans
b) Strategies, actions and timelines of the best options to move council's investments to financial institutions that do not finance fossil fuel projects
c) A framework to maintain ongoing reporting and review of council's banking to minimise indirect financing of fossil fuel projects and maintain public confidence that council is keeping its commitments.
The motion was Carried 6/3
A Division was called and this is how our Councillors voted:
Cr Lenka Thompson
Cr Lita Gillies
Cr Sam Ratnam
Cr Helen Davidson
Cr Oscar Yildiz
Cr Sue Bolton
Cr John Kavanagh
Cr Rob Thompson
Deputy Mayor Meghan Hopper
Absent for vote:
Mayor Lambros Tapinos
Cr Michael Teti
Cr Sue Bolton explained the decision on Facebook the next day:
Last night's council meeting took another step towards divesting from fossil fuel. There will be another two votes by council (February and June) before we can say that Moreland council has really divested from fossil fuel. Last night's vote took us another step towards this goal. Six councillors voted in favour (myself, Lenka Thompson, Sam Ratnam, Lita Gillies, Helen Davidson and Oscar Yildiz). Three councillors voted against divestment (Meghan Hopper, John Kavanagh, Rob Thompson).