As we head into the Global Divestment Mobilisation, 350 Australia and Aotearoa reflect on some of the many divestment highlights from our part of the world:
OCTOBER 2014: Following student pressure, the Australian National University committed to divest from a handful of mining companies and was met with national outrage from the Prime Minister and Treasurer, with daily media stories lasting for an entire month. ANU stood strong and the rest is history.
AUGUST 2015: The City of Newcastle, home to the world’s largest coal port, commits to divest from banks funding fossil fuels. The coal industry and our Governments go into a tailspin, demanding that Newcastle rescinds their decision but Council stands by their decision and the coal industry takes a walloping.
ONE FIFTH: That’s the percentage of global divestment commitments that come from Australia.
MAY 2014: The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is the first faith-based organisation in the region to divest from fossil fuels, declaring that divestment “speaks to two marks of our Christian mission: care of creation and righting unjust social structures.”
JUNE 2014: The Minerals Council of Australia releases a report attacking the fossil fuel divestment, in the process admitting it is having a big impact.
JUNE 2015: The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australasia’s largest specialist medical college, representing over 21,000 physicians, paediatricians, and trainees in 25 medical specialties across Australia and New Zealand, commits to divest and join health leaders globally saying to coal, oil and gas.
BANKS UNDER PRESSURE: Thousands of Aussie and Kiwi customers with banks that finance fossil fuels have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of their money to fossil free banks. In 2015, this divestment combined with colourful community pressure prompted the National Australia Bank to say no to funding the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland, which would be one of the largest coal mines in the world. In 2017, following similar pressure from Australia and New Zealand, Westpac ruled out lending to thermal coal basins, and therefore Adani as well.
MAY 2015: Dunedin City is New Zealand’s first city to commit to becoming fossil free, cutting its ties with coal, oil, and gas.
AUGUST 2016: Along with the student push for a fossil free future, New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Union implements a policy committing to remain fossil free, and calls on “other organisations including New Zealand’s tertiary education institutions and the government to divest from companies that profit from fossil fuels.”
SEPTEMBER 2016: After a cheeky two-year student-led campaign, the University of Otago make a fossil free commitment!
MARCH 2017: In a landslide vote, Aotearoa’s largest city (comprising over 30% of NZ’s population), divests from coal, oil and gas, marking a huge challenge to the social licence of the fossil fuel industry in Aotearoa.