While I am proud of many of the City’s sustainability achievements I have found Council’s unwillingness to divest from banks that have coal investments disappointing. Leading organisations such as ANU have shown it is possible for prominent public organisations to make this move in a financially responsible way.
Last year I called on the City to support the divestment movement and move surplus funds into banks that don’t finance coal projects. Currently 59% of the City’s surplus funds are invested with one of the Big 4 Australian banks. The Commonwealth, ANZ, NAB and Westpac banks all have between three to six billion dollars invested in coal projects. My motion was supported by my Labor colleague but sadly other Councillors did not support it.
This month the City has proposed an update to the existing Investment Policy and Strategy. While it falls short on bank divestment there are some encouraging elements. The draft policy states that the City will engage directly with financial institutions to develop other socially and environmentally responsible investment options. I trust that City staff will progress this element of the policy and I look forward to updates on this. In future I will continue to advocate for divestment of unsustainable activities.