Moreland council has threatened to divest from any bank that invests in fossil fuel projects.
Since 2008, the big four banks — Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac and NAB — have invested $18.8 billion in fossil fuel projects in Australia. Moreland council has traditionally banked with the Commonwealth Bank, which provides more than $1 billion to new projects that will ship coal and gas through the Great Barrier Reef.
Climate Action Moreland and 350.org presented a petition at the May 14 Moreland council meeting, calling on the council to divest from banks which invest in fossil fuel projects. There were 497 signatures on the petition.
The petition said: “For future banking tenders, the City of Moreland should set firm policies that it will only work with banks that are not funding fossil fuel projects.”
The petition drew attention to a contradiction in the council’s policies. On one hand, the Community Climate Action plan aims to make Moreland carbon neutral by 2020, while its banking and investments help fund fossil fuel projects.
At the June 11 meeting, councillor and member of the Socialist Alliance Sue Bolton moved to amend the banking services tender so that if the Commonwealth Bank has not divested from fossil fuel projects during the three-year contract, it would automatically be re-tendered.
This amendment passed, making Moreland the first council in Australia to make steps towards divestment from fossil fuel projects.
The original proposal was for the contract to automatically be renewed for three one-year renewals.
Unfortunately, the banks that do not invest in fossil fuel projects did not tender for Moreland’s banking services
This shows one of the limitations in divestment and boycott campaigns for social change. Most corporations have investments in the military, fossil fuel projects and other harmful industries. All four of the big banks invest directly in fossil fuel projects.
What the public need is a people’s bank that is not run for profit. It would be a nationalised bank run by the community and workers.
This small step by Moreland council is an important move towards divestment from fossil fuels.
Climate Action Moreland intends to continue campaigning on the issue so that the council carries through on full divestment from fossil fuels. If people can win divestment, it will be a powerful example to other councils and institutions about some of the actions that are needed to combat climate change.