The City of Newcastle Council voted last night to focus investments away from environmentally and socially destructive entities, including Australia’s Big Four Banks. With a total investment portfolio of $270 million, the groundbreaking move makes Newcastle the fourth, and largest Council in New South Wales, and the seventh in the country to divest.
With a lack of leadership from state and federal government, it falls to local government to act,” said Cr Declan Clausen, who brought the move to Newcastle City Council. “I’m proud to be part of a Council that is committed to ensuring a bright and sustainable future for the Hunter.”
“We applaud the Newcastle City Council in its decision to divest from fossil fuels that are as bad for a balance sheet as they are for our air, water, and climate,” said Isaac Astill, a fossil fuel divestment campaigner with 350.org Australia. “As Tony Abbott forges backwards, hand-in-hand with the coal industry, it is refreshing to see real leadership from local communities and Councils on one of the most defining issues of our time.”
“The Newcastle Council understands that the world is moving swiftly on a path to clean energy investment and away from the fossil fuels of the past. This move sets the precedent that our local leaders are embracing a vision that breaks the cycle of coal dependency that has too long gripped the Newcastle community,” said Dr John Mackenzie, coordinator with the Hunter Community Environment Centre.
“With the largest coal port on the planet at our doorstep, for too long our families have endured the damages created by investing in dirty energy,” said Cathy Burgess, a nurse from Newcastle. “Our reality is tainted with loud and dangerous coal trains and coal ships. Our homes and landscapes face a constant showering of harmful coal dust. For these reason and for so many more, I support the Council’s decision to divest from the dirty fossil fuel industry.”
The vote is part of a fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement, which has spread to campuses, cities, faith communities, super funds, health organisations and foundations around Australia and the world. To date, 35 institutions in Australia and 350 globally have pledged to divest from fossil fuels. Newcastle’s announcement follows a divestment commitment from the ACT Government last week.