Divestment success! And the big 6 things that happened this week
While Tony Abbott got all medieval on Australia by reintroducing knights and dames this week, the fight for fossil fuel divestment has broken into the public spotlight like never before.
From the Minerals Council launching a campaign against the divestment movement on Monday, to UniSuper announcing it will divest its Socially Responsible investment portfolio of fossil fuels today, this week has been a game changer, and the battle is swinging our way!
This is a long email. That’s mainly a reflection that there are thousands of people in this movement, doing amazing work. That means there is a lot to report on, and today, a lot to celebrate.
So here we go with the 5 big moves of the week:
1. UniSuper makes an exciting divestment announcement!
UniSuper is one of Australia’s largest super funds, with over 450,000 members and $30 billion under management. Since last month, over 1800 UniSuper members have asked the fund to go fossil free. Thanks to this support, we are now in negotiations with UniSuper over a comprehensive strategy for dealing with their fossil fuel investments. But excitingly, step one has been agreed to and today UniSuper notified their members that they will be divesting fossil fuels from their Socially Responsible fund. This is particularly excellent news given the campaign that the Minerals Council is now waging to keep our super funds wedded to coal*. Join us in celebrating this win by LIKING and SHARING our meme here.
2. Universities collude to avoid scrutiny and then get embarrassed.
Last night, ABC’s Lateline revealed that Australia’s Group of Eight** universities are colluding to avoid scrutiny over their plans to deal with the financial risks posed by their fossil fuel investments. The information was accidentally supplied by Monash University in response to a survey issued by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) to 300 Universities internationally.***
This is the ultimate irony. One the one hand, universities are leaders of sustainability and climate change research, innovation and education, with staff, students and alumni working to build a low-carbon future. Yet on the other hand, our universities are investing in industries that will ensure this future is unattainable. If you are connected to a university, click here to ask them how they are managing the financial risks of climate change.
3. Melbourne University announced it won’t divest. Fossil Free MU won’t stop there.
University of Melbourne students and staff are outraged today by a public statement from the University indicating that it will not divest from fossil fuels. The University claims that divestment will reduce their returns, despite a recent report by The Australia Institute in partnership with 350.org and Market Forces indicating that divestment doesn’t reduce returns and a statement from UniSuper today that their returns would remain “about the same” after divesting fossil fuels from their socially responsible fund. Click here to ask the University of Melbourne to change their mind and go fossil free today.
4. Fossil Free ANU present to the University’s council.
Responding to the Group of Eight collusion revelation, Fossil Free ANU, Australia’s longest running divestment campaign, turned up at the university chancellery this morning to deliver a strong message to ANU’s council and Vice Chancellor Ian Young, who heads up the Group of Eight. They were given the opportunity to present to council on the need to disclose and divest the ANU’s fossil fuel investments. Click here to support the campaign’s call for ANU to go fossil free.
5. The Minerals Council attacked 350.org & launched an anti-divestment campaign.
On Tuesday we wrote to you about the attack in Monday’s Australian on 350.org and the divestment movement from the Minerals Council CEO, Brendan Pearson. His attack revealed more about the coal industry than about those interested in challenging it’s license to keep polluting. It was also noted that the Minerals Council has begun an anti-divestment campaign, lobbying investors not to divest. You can read our response to Mr Pearson’s oped in our blog response here.
6. Stranded assets expert gets public and media attention.
Finally, we’ve seen great media coverage and turnouts for talks and panel sessions with Oxford University academic Ben Caldecott on the risk of stranded assets in Australia — something everyone with a super fund, bank account or investments should know about! Checkout some of the coverage here.
This week has been incredible, and as Friday brings the week to an end, we’re left feeling hugely grateful to all of the people that are building this wonderful movement. Our massive gratitude goes to all the people who have stepped up to become a regular giver or a one off giver this week! Thanks to you, we’ll be able to sustain and power-up the work that 350.org does.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Charlie, Vicky, Aaron, Blair, Josh and the whole 350.org Australia team
*‘Miners target funds to spread the message on coal’, The Australian, 24th March
**The Group of Eight includes: UNSW, ANU, Monash, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, University of Western Australia
***‘Students outraged by university climate collusion’, The Australian, 28th March; ‘Universities face claim they avoid scrutiny of fossil fuel investments’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28th March
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