CITY of Bayswater will steer clear of investing in financial institutions that support the fossil fuel industry, council decided last night.
The decision follows seven other Perth councils, including WA’s biggest council, the City of Stirling, that divested money from fossil fuels.
While the majority of councillors supported the move to amend the City’s investment policy, Councillor Brent Fleeton said he was concerned with a lack of community consultation and called out the “hypocrisy” of the plan.
“The cars we all drove here in utilise fossil fuels,” he said.
Cr Fleeton said divestment was “illogical and unethical” and did damage to the coal, oil and gas industries, which provided many jobs.
Amid applause from the public gallery, Cr John Rifici said the council needed to act on the community concern about climate change and the fossil fuel industry.
“We need to think about our grandkids…not just about the jobs now but the generations to come,” he said.
“The community is concerned and ready for change.”
Cr Sally Palmer said renewable energy sources such as sun and wind power needed to be considered and supported the divestment commitment.
Cr Michelle Sutherland cited the use of renewable energy in South Australia and said power was limited when “the sun doesn’t come out and the wind doesn’t blow”.
“People who want renewables and action on climate change also want lower prices for electricity,” she said.
“Renewables will be a part of the future but needed to think about employment (in the coal, oil and gas industries).
Cr Chris Cornish said he was “philosophically opposed” to divesting ratepayer money and the council needed to exercise caution with investments.
“What about banks then lending to Woolworths who fund pokies and gambling?” he said.
“The risk of our deposits going pear shaped is low, but stranger things have happened.”
In support of the divestment commitment, Cr Catherine Ehrhardt said people were not prepared to watch politicians side with polluters.
Metropolitan local governments that no longer invest in fossil fuel industries
City of Fremantle
City of Armadale
Town of Bassendean
City of Stirling
Town of East Fremantle
City of Vincent
City of Swan