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Dunedin first city in New Zealand to divest from fossil fuels on ethical grounds



Dunedin City Council has announced it intends to withdraw investment in fossil fuels companies that contribute to climate change, as part of its new ethical investment policy. The city is the first one in the country to do such a move.

Dunedin, the second-largest city on the South Island, has decided to add oil, gas and coal companies to the list of investment exclusions in its portfolio, together with tobacco, gambling and pornography.

The city, which manages the NZ$75 million (£38.4m) Waripori fund, would drop NZ$2 million (£1.03m) fossil fuel extraction investment, in line with its new ethical investment policy.

Bill McKibben, founder of the divestment movement, commented, “The Dunedin City Council has just demonstrated it is a world leader in addressing climate change. Its vote to end investments in fossil fuel extraction has put New Zealand at the forefront of the divestment movement. Even though New Zealand is a small place, others around the world will take note of this.”

The local divestment group, 350 Aotearoa, has recently called for the country’s second-largest bank Westpac, to take a stance against fossil fuels.

National coordinator of 350 Aotearoa Ashlee Gross said, “Financing oil, coal and gas companies is playing a major role in determining whether these companies go ahead with plans that would push us well past safe CO2 levels, or whether we start to get serious about the transition to clean energy.”

Dunedin follows the decision of a number of US cities and the Dutch town of Boxtel, which last year announced the decision to divest becoming the first fossil-free European municipality.

In September last year, Anglican diocese of Wellington announced it would drop its holdings in the fossil fuels industry within two years, to avoid the worsening of climate change.

Photo: michelle carl via flickr

Further reading:

Australia and New Zealand investors urged to demand higher ethical standards

Dutch town first in Europe to plan fossil fuel divestment

New Zealand diocese announce fossil fuels divestment plans

How to invest in energy once you’ve ditched fossil fuels

The Guide to Climate Change 2013