Australian Communities Foundation Divests $90 Million From Fossil Fuels
12 September 2018 at 5:15 pm
A leading Australian foundation is entirely divesting its $90 million corpus investment portfolio from fossil fuels to focus on environmentally sustainable investments.
Australian Communities Foundation has transitioned its portfolio to an ethical investment approach over the past three years, and on Wednesday pledged to fully divest from fossil fuel investments.
ACF CEO Maree Sidey told Pro Bono News the change was driven by their donors.
“We made that move because our donors have very strong values around social justice and taking a sustainable approach to the environment,” Sidey said.
“And we were asked by our donors to really start thinking about our investments and how we were aligning our investments with the social outcomes that we wanted to see through our distributions.”
ACF’s commitment means no new investments in the top 200 oil, gas, or coal companies, and selling any of these existing investments within five years.
The organisation will turn its investment focus to climate solutions such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and water efficiency.
“We want to have a consistent way of approaching both our investments in the community and our investments more generally,” she said.
“Positive investing is an emerging marketplace in Australia. So we’re really encouraged to see some of the interesting approaches to social and environmental investments, and will probably think about those two areas as a starting point.”
Sidey said she believed ACF was the largest foundation in Australia to publically commit to this type of divestment.
She encouraged other Australian foundations to similarly commit to impact investing.
“I think we’re more likely to see early adoption from groups such as ours where we have broad accountability to a large number of donors and investors,” she said.
“And we hope that other foundations with large corpuses will help to also give a boost to the emerging positive investment market in Australia.”
The commitment is part of a global DivestInvest announcement at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
The global DivestInvest movement has commitments from almost 900 organisations – with combined assets of $6.2 trillion – to stop investing in fossil-fuel companies.
Clara Vondrich, global director of DivestInvest Philanthropy, welcomed ACF’s commitment, noting that “any mission-based philanthropy that pours grant dollars into programming while remaining invested in fossil fuels is treating symptoms while ignoring the cause”.