It’s good to see Bass Coast Shire Council taking a modest step at its July 20 meeting – and especially just before elections – to “prioritise investments in environmentally and socially responsible financial institutions”, albeit with prudent qualifications.
The ranting, fear-mongering in Sentinel-Times pages on July 12 [“stuffing around with our money”] exaggerates the ‘threat’ of financial risk in opposing investments linked to fossil fuels, and coal especially.
Indeed, it entirely distracts from the real long-term threat here: burning [and exporting] fossil fuels is Australia’s major, and most easily-reduced, contribution to global temperature rise.
Your July 12 report and comment piece selects from the council administration’s report on the issue to dramatise the maximum estimated annual financial loss to the council of “full” divestment – when no strategy was ever flagged to “ban” all fossil fuel investments in a snap action.
Blind Freddie – and even Peabody Coal, the world’s biggest coal-mine outfit, now in bankruptcy protection – knows the future for coal is in decline. And just more slowly for gas.
So why doesn’t the Sentinel-Times applaud the council’s financial leadership in looking to invest our funds where Australia’s investment and employment future is going, in innovatory manufacturing, in creative services, in renewable energy?
You jeer at “money-wasting”, but risk today is not in fossil fuel divestment, but in continued business-as-usual fossil fuel investments.
Opposing the council transitioning the shires’ investments out of coal only “beggars belief” if you’ve been under a rock for years, never heard of the Stern or Garnaut reports or the international commitments (inc. by Australia) on damaging carbon emissions, finally agreed in Paris last year. These targets are a big step – but scientific projection of their achievement still leaves us dangerously warm.
So it’s actually a priority for thinking ratepayers to back this council move, one that too few councils have so far taken.
Or should we line up with those laggards, who want their municipal backyards to remain irresponsibly indifferent to the likely human future under a 2-3C hotter world climate?
Expert assessment of that future is not hysterical when it points to increased wildfires and flash-floods, more intense storms, longer droughts, and increased coastal erosion.
The Climate Institute, no red-rag bunch of protesters, predicts for 2050 with such a climate:
• the spread to southern Australia of several insect diseases;
• a decline in the value of our meat, wool and dairy industries;
• a decline in irrigation production in the MDB of 12-49 per cent;
• rising temperature, disease and pest stress for Tasmanian salmon and cray fisheries.
Just last month the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the USA committed to a clean energy target of 50 per cent by 2025, a tougher goal than their Paris objective.
Coral reefs globally are weathering right now the longest bleaching event ever.
You can’t stop that impact on the Great Barrier Reef by fiddling with farm run-off pollution: it’s the temperature, stupid! Australia’s biggest tourist icon (and a big employer) is on the brink because of international carbon emissions.
How is Australia to meet its 2030 emissions target (the 2020 target is a joke from outdated politicking) without families, community organisations, companies and governments all increasing divestment from fossil fuels over the next 15 years.
Councillors, you are on the right track on this one.
Ken Blackman, Inverloch.