Divestment Bill part of climate solution

Parliament will have an opportunity to show it wants to be part of the solution to climate change by voting for the New Zealand Government to divest from fossil fuels, after Russel Norman’s Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill was pulled from the Members’ Bill ballot today, the Green Party said.

“My Bill will give us the opportunity to join the rapidly growing global movement pulling the funding out from underneath the fossil fuel industry, who make their profits by causing climate change,” Green Party MP Dr Russel Norman said.

“Voting for this Bill is a simple but effective action the Government can take to put its money where its mouth is on climate change.”

The Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill directs the managers of public funds like the Superannuation Fund, ACC Fund, and others, to divest from companies directly involved in the exploration, mining, and production of fossil fuels. With regard to the Superannuation Fund, it will affect shares in around 200 companies – only a small part of the fund’s overall investment portfolio, but one that makes a big difference to the future of the planet.

“Fossil fuel companies are losing value left, right, and centre, so it makes economic sense as well as environmental sense to pull Government investments out of fossil fuels,” Dr Norman said.

“This is an opportunity to join the world’s largest pension fund – the Norwegian fund – and major private investors like the Rockefeller Fund, in a global movement to divest from fossil fuels.

“We cannot keep looking for more fossil fuels to burn, because we have to leave three quarters of the fossil fuels we’ve already found to avoid locking the planet into catastrophic climate change.

“If New Zealand is serious about leading on climate change, the Government should support this Bill in the lead-up to the December global climate change conference in Paris,” said Dr Norman.

Analysis from the Parliamentary Library shows that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund has increased the value of its investments in the world’s twenty dirtiest coal companies from $29 million at June 30, 2011 to $36 million at June 30, 2014 (as ranked by Carbon Underground 200). Over this time, the average (unweighted) stock price of these companies has declined by 31 percent.

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