Dunedin becomes first city in New Zealand to divest from fossil fuels

CONTACT: Ashlee Gross, 350 Aotearoa National Coordinator, ashlee@350.org.nz

Hoda Baraka, 350.org Global Communications Manager, hoda@350.org

New Zealand — Dunedin City Council has become the first council in New Zealand to divest itself of fossil fuel investments to highlight their impact on climate change.

The Council voted on Tuesday to remove existing fossil fuel extraction investments of close to NZ $2 million and prevent future investments in fossil fuels by its NZ $75 million Waripori fund. The move sees Dunedin City join 23 US cities and a Dutch town in divesting from fossil fuels, including oil, gas and coal, for ethical and climate change reasons.

These municipalities are part of a burgeoning divestment movement that include global investors, fund managers, religious institutions and academic institutions that are divesting from fossil fuels, buoyed on by climate change campaigning organisation, 350.org.

“It’s so fitting that on the day scientists showed with great clarity the peril of the Antarctic, nearby Dunedin took this huge leadership step. It’s not just the most charming city in New Zealand, it’s the most forward-looking!” said 350.org co-founder, Bill McKibben.

The Dunedin City Council ethical investment policy will formally exclude the munitions, tobacco, fossil fuel extraction, gambling and pornography industries from its investment portfolio.

Last week, Stanford University announced plans to divest its US $18 billion endowment fund from coal investments. Two weeks earlier, the world’s largest fund manager, BlackRock, announced plans to create a fund that will exclude fossil fuels. Last September, five New Zealand based Anglican Dioceses voted to divest.

The divestment movement kicked off in the US in the autumn of 2012. Since then, the movement has spread to over 500 universities, cities, states and religious institutions across the United States, Australia, Canada and Europe, with dozens of institutions already committing to divest. In Europe, campaigns are underway in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Germany. The Dutch town of Boxtel became the first city outside the USA to divest from fossil fuels in October 2013.

As heads of state are set to meet later this year in New York for the Ban Ki Moon Climate Summit, 350.org will continue to build the divestment movement catalyzing necessary global climate action.

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