Newcastle, home to world’s biggest coal port, moves to curb fossil fuel links

Sydney Morning Herald, August 26, 2015

Newcastle, home to the world’s biggest coal export port, has voted to curb its links to banks backing the fossil fuel industry in a move described by a dissenting councillor as taking the city “back to the Stone Age”.

Newcastle City Council on Tuesday voted 6-5 to alter its policies to steer its $270 million in funds into banks involved in “environmentally and socially responsible investments” and avoid those in “harmful activities”, such as greenhouse gas pollution.

…The council stopped short of immediately dumping term deposits and other transaction activity with the big four banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac.

However, when deposits come up for renewal, council staff will be instructed to switch funds away from the large banks – all active funders of the coal industry – provided rates of return and the ratings of the alternative banks or credit agencies are similar.