It really is the most stunning of announcements. The city with the most coal going through it day in, day out, in the world just did something that on the surface seems completely contradictory. That city – the City of Newcastle, Australia – earlier this week voted to divest its $270 million investment portfolio from fossil fuels, including coal*.
The importance of this decision cannot be glossed over. It is outstanding leadership for a city that is neck-deep in fossil fuels to make the call that it’s time to get out of them. Obviously this divestment decision won’t stop the coal port from continuing on at this point, but it sets the direction for the City going forward.
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Newcastle city councillor Declan Clausen explained the aspirations of the City moving forward:
“There are an increasing group of start-ups in Newcastle that are looking at a clean-tech future, we are embracing those opportunities. The coal downturn has particularly affected the Hunter Valley. Clean techs are going to be a significant employer moving forward. Council is being on the front foot about that.”
When taking ambitious action to hold back climate change requires the strong and ambitious leadership displayed by Newcastle City, you’d think that the nation’s politicians and Government might even be proud of such foresight and leadership. But as it turns out, they’re not. They’re actually nearly falling out of seats, and using all their political power to try and get the decision overturned. Here’s a meme that proves my point:
Meanwhile in the city itself, the decision is controversial, but being received with some understanding that it is a courageous step to take – as the frontpage of the Newcastle Herald shows today:
In these times where politicians are doing everything they can to prop up the failing coal industry in Australia, it’s important that the rest of the world sees the courage of leadership taken by Newcastle City. So please join us in Tweeting, Facebooking and singing for the courage of Newcastle.
*The motion will see the exclusion of environmentally and socially destructive entities, including Australia’s Big Four Banks.