Vincent slips on oily goal

THE amount of cash Vincent council invests with the fossil fuel industry continues to climb despite promises to start dumping them five years ago.

In 2016 the council voted to “give preference” to environmentally responsible investments instead of forking out money to banks that prop up fossil fuels ‚Äì provided that didn’t cut into the returns. 

The decision came at the urging of climate change lobbyists 350Perth, the local branch of an international movement.

Vincent’s divestment policy saw 60 per cent of its funds going to non-fossil fuel lenders by the end of 2017, but that’s plunged to just 5 per cent today. 

At the November council meeting last year Cr Jonathan Hallett noticed the trend. “The proportion of investments exposed to fossil fuels seems to have increased slightly,” he said. “Do we know what the reasoning for that is?”

At the time council finance documents claimed 6.7 per cent of the council’s investments were in green-friendly banks, but the real number was even lower: Zero. 

The Voice discovered that for months the $2.6 million the council had invested with Macquarie was wrongly counted as being in an environmentally friendly fund, despite the bank lending $5 billion to the fossil fuel industry in the past five years.

Council CEO David MacLennan confirmed the Macquarie listing was in error and it’d be fixed for the coming council meeting.

The council’s reports now correctly state that 5 per cent of investments are in green banks, following a recent $2 million put into Members Equity. 

ME caps investments at $2 million, and as for why more can’t go into similar institutions, council staff wrote in this week’s agenda that coal-spurning banks “are not providing competitive rates”. 

But they’ve only been comparing rates from eight banks.

Cr Dan Loden said at this week’s council briefing: “There’s so much pressure on banks at the moment to address fossil fuel lending… there’s 11 banks in Australia that lend to fossil fuel organisations, and 61 that don’t, so it seems like there might be an opportunity there.”

Mayor Emma Cole said “this is an all time low, and requested of staff: “Can we do a much broader sweep of financial institutions to invest with?”

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