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Small step against big problem

THE City of Kalamunda will give preference to financial institutions that do not invest in fossil fuels in a decision that narrowly passed at a council meeting last week. 

Fossil divestment is the removal of assets, including stocks, bonds, and investment funds, from companies involved in extracting fossil fuels in a bid to tackle climate change.

Council voted 5-4 in favor of the motion, with councillors Lesly Boyd, Michael Fernie, Cameron Blair and acting chairman Dylan O’Connor against. 

Kalamunda Town Transition founder Adele Standeven said the group had been working with City administration for six months but did not know which way the council would vote before the meeting.

“A few (councillors) had already decided it was too risky,” she said.

“When we had discussions with the City the finance staff were very much behind it.

“It’s one of those topics people don’t know a lot about, it sounds involved and deep but really there isn’t much to it.

“All that it means is when a term deposit is up for renewal and if the rates are exactly the same, they (the City) can choose a fossil free bank.”

The decision to push the City to make the move was made by the community. 

“We had an initial call for interest and held a meeting at the community centre in Kalamunda, 20 people came and put their names down,” Ms Standeven said.

“They were passionate people and that was the support that drove us… you can achieve a lot when you have like-minded people. 

“When you put your heads together it’s amazing what you can do.”

A City spokesperson said the policy did not exclude financial institutions that invest in or finance fossil fuels. 

“In the future when financial institutions offer comparable interest rates, preference will be given to financial institutions which do not invest in or finance the fossil fuel industry provided that those institutions satisfy the City’s investment policy requirements,” they said.

“Investment decisions are made on a case by case basis when the City has surplus funds to invest.”

The City’s monthly financial statement and reports will now include the state of its divestment from fossil fuels.

The Cities of Stirling, Melville, Armadale, Swan, Subiaco, Bayswater, Fremantle, Towns of Bassendean, East Fremantle and Vincent and Shire’s of Goomalling and Mundaring have all adopted similar policies. 

By Claire Ottaviano

 

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