Quakers Divest from ‘Big Four’ Banks
14 January 2015 at 10:04 am
Members of the religious community of Quakers in Australia have joined a growing number of institutions and organisations that are committing to divest from fossil fuels.
The national body of Quakers in Australia says it intends to move its corporate funds away from the “big four” banks and is encouraging individual members and meetings to move away from investments that damage the Earth.
“We have for many years avoided investments in alcohol, tobacco, military weapons, uranium and other mining and similar concerns,” Australia’s Presiding Clerk, Julian Robertson said.
“This was, of course, consistent with our principles of peace and social justice.
“We also have a problem with the investment policies of the larger banks in Australia, where our money is being used for financing some of these companies. We are particularly worried about carbon-intensive industries and some others which do not have the ethical standards that we would like.
“To be true to our principles, we have to look at all aspects of our lives,’ Robertson said.
‘Where we invest our money, even in our normal day to day banking, is part of that process.”
Australian Quakers also reaffirmed that one of their basic principles is Earthcare, honouring the Earth and all living things and endeavouring to live in harmony with them.
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was formed in northern England in the 17th century and has spread worldwide. There are some 2000 Australians who identify as Quakers. The Society is a member of the National Council of Churches of Australia.
Late last year, the Anglican Church in Australian voted to review the ecological sustainability of its investments. The Anglican diocese in Perth, Canberra and Melbourne took it a step further.
“Within two years the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne will take “all reasonable steps” to divest its shares in corporations whose revenues from fossil fuel extraction or production exceed 20 per cent of their total revenue,” a resolution of the Melbourne Anglican Synod,in October 2014 decided.
“Cheap coal is a myth,” Professor Kate Rigby, Chair of Environmental Humanities at Monash University, told the Synod.
“While coal might have been cheaper [than renewable energy], this is only because its environmental impacts have not been factored into costing and because coal and other fossil fuel industries receive massive government subsidies.”
She said divestment was unlikely to harm the financial interests of fossil fuel industries.
“The intention is rather to draw attention to the ethical questionability of continued over-reliance on what we now know to be dangerously polluting energy sources and to thereby encourage the transition to a cleaner economy… Divestment will also encourage companies that currently focus on fossil fuels to diversify… with a view to securing their own survival in the post-carbon economy.”
In August 2014 Fremantle Council in Western Australia adopted modifications to its investment policy to not place council funds into banks or financial institutions that support fossil fuel industries, unless there was no alternative.
This move was in response to the work done by 350.org, which said it has seen a groundswell of institutions across the globe start to divest from carbon.
The resolution by council saw Fremantle as the first local government in Australia to divest for this reason, with the policy modifications consistent with the city’s commitment to One Planet guidelines.
“Climate crisis is a serious threat to current and future generations locally, nationally and internationally and most world governments have agreed through the 2009 Copenhagen Accord that any warming above a 2°C rise would be unsafe, and that future carbon emissions release should be significantly limited,” Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt said on the 350.org website.
“It’s therefore the responsibility of our banks, superannuation funds and governments that have custody of our money to use this money to protect, and not damage, our environment.”