EAST Fremantle residents made their voices heard last week when a 750-signature petition was presented to Town of East Fremantle councillors urging them to choose a fossil fuel-free bank for the Town’s surplus investments.
Lead petitioner Peta Bowden said a fossil fuel-free bank was one that did not invest in or finance the fossil fuel industry, with some Australian banks lending as much as $50 billion to the industry in the past eight years.
“By investing in the fossil fuel industry banks are supporting and profiting from the industry that is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions,” she said.
“By shifting our investments out of these banks and into banks that do not invest in the fossil fuel industry we are aligning our money with our values; we are sending a message to our financial institution that we want a faster transition to renewables.”
She believed it was the biggest petition from East Fremantle electors in decades and showed just how important climate change issues were for the local community.
“Climate change is a huge issue for me because its impacts are putting the continuation of life as we know it at risk,” she said.
“I didn’t realise when I started doorknocking but heard over and over again that the community senses that far too little is being done about climate change by our political leaders.
“As a result people were eager to sign the petition in the hope that at least at the local level some action could be initiated.”
East Fremantle councillors at last Tuesday’s meeting revised their investment of surplus funds policy, including a clause that would see preference given to competitive and policy-compliant quotes from fossil fuel-free banks.
The Town of Bassendean and the cities of Fremantle, Stirling and Armadale have also committed to divest their funds.
East Fremantle Mayor Jim O’Neill said it was a positive statement from the |Town.
“While the divestment of council’s investments, approximately $5 million, from the banks which support fossil fuel activities may not have a significant financial impact, we feel it has a much larger impact as a social statement in our beliefs towards climate change,” he said.
“We hope that it may encourage other local governments and businesses to follow suit.”