Newcastle, Australia—home to the world’s largest coal export port—on Tuesday joined the growing divestment movement after voting to pull its holdings from the country’s biggest banks if they continue to fund fossil fuel projects.
The 6-5 city council vote marked a decisive break from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pro-fossil fuel government and economy, and is a bold statement in a place where the coal industry accounts for over 1,000 jobs and over $1 billion in “direct community and business purchasing.”
Despite coal’s grip on the local economy, Labor councilor Declan Clausen, who brought the motion before the city council, said after the vote that the “writing is on the wall, coal is not going to be a leader long into the future.” Instead, he suggested that the city should be look to diversify its economy, including investments into renewable technologies, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“With a lack of leadership from state and federal government, it falls to local government to act,” Clausen told 350.org Australia.
Roughly 80 percent of the City of Newcastle Council’s $270 million investment portfolio is held in Australia’s “big four banks,” which all lend to new and existing fossil fuel projects. Statements from bank representatives indicated they have no intention of changing their current investment strategy.
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