Council will, in future, seek to invest in funds that support environmentally and socially responsible activities following the adoption of a revised Investment Policy.
Some of the Environmentally and Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) activities that would be supported include:
- Renewable energy
- Water and energy conservation
- Production of environmentally-friendly products, recycling, waste and emissions reduction
- Fair trade
- Provision of housing, particularly social housing
- Equal opportunity employment
- Health and aged care
At the same time, Council has pledged to avoid investments that support:
- Production of pollutants, toxins and/or greenhouse gases
- Habitat destruction
- Nuclear power
- Uranium mining
- Abuse of human rights or labour rights
- Bribery or corruption
- Armaments supply
- The manufacture of alcohol, tobacco or gambling products.
SRIs will be chosen in future where the investment falls within legislation, the Policy’s objectives and limitations and the rate of return is favourable in comparison to other investments on offer at that time.
The revised policy adoption coincided with the passing of a Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Tegan Swan that called for Council to reduce investment in any financial institutions that support the fossil fuel industry.
“The Notice of Motion and Policy have similar intents,” said Andrew Beswick, Council’s Director Business Services. “But councils are required to be prudent in their investment decisions and therefore need to split their investments between institutions with the highest credit ratings and lowest risk – which are often the biggest banks which do invest in fossil fuels – and those with lower level credit ratings. Lower rated institutions tend to be smaller and don’t participate in such investments.
“As a result of the revised policy, we would currently be able to divest up to a maximum of $22.5m of investments.”