The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) announced on October 27 that it will join the movement to screen out fossil fuel interests from its investment portfolio. It will also look for ethical investment opportunities in renewable energy.
It is the first Australian union to commit to divest from fossil fuels, and follows its decision to adopt a position on ethical investment at its national meeting held in Melbourne, October 8-10.
The union represents tens of thousands working at tertiary education institutions around the country.
National President Jeannie Rea said: “The NTEU is proud to be the first union in Australia to join the movement of almost 400 institutions which are moving their money out of fossil fuels, in response to the climate crisis.
“The science is unequivocal. To ensure a safe future, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. Investment in coal, oil and gas is not an option.”
Rea said that given universities teach and conduct research on climate change and sustainability, it makes sense to ensure the union's investments are not “benefitting companies that are contributing to an unsustainable future”.
“We recognise that divestment is only one side of the coin. It's one thing not to support polluting industries, but it's equally important to invest in the clean energy sectors of the future like solar and wind.
“We hope our decision will encourage the universities our members work in, and other unions around the country, to follow suit.
“Divestment sends a powerful signal to polluters and politicians that climate action is non-negotiable,” concluded Rea.
The NTEU is the 36th institution in Australia to divest and the 387th worldwide.