Northern Rivers souncils are taking tougher stances on their investments.
Northern Rivers souncils are taking tougher stances on their investments. Contributed

Council reconsiders fossil fuel investment

FOUR of the five councils on the Northern Rivers have adopted divestment policies on fossil fuel industries, with Richmond Valley Council adding its name to the list.

Councillors have voted unanimously to "give investment preference to financial institutions that do not support the fossil fuel industry”.

The announcement came after divestment calls from at least one concerned resident at previous council meetings, but the decision came with clauses.

Investments must comply with the council's existing policy, state laws and ministerial orders "as well as provide a rate of return that is equal to or better than those offered by institutions that support the fossil fuel industry”.

Lismore City, Ballina and Byron Shire councils already have similar policies in place, along with seven other NSW councils and 18 councils elsewhere in Australia.

Richmond Valley councillors resolved to ask authorities at Local Government NSW for "a list of authorised deposit taking institutions that are committed to fossil free and environmentally responsible investments and lending”.

Council had nearly $16.5 million invested via TCorp, once known as the NSW Treasury, after corporation representatives reviewed council investments two years ago and advised "Council to look at alternative investment options outside of term deposits”.

"Council staff contacted TCorp regarding their position on institutions involved in the fossil fuel industry earlier this financial year and were advised that at that time TCorp were undergoing a process of developing a formal position on the matter,” council minutes stated.

The TCorp Board adopted a new Investment Stewardship Policy on September 30 last year dealing with the integration of environment, social and governance factors in decision making.

Councillors resolved to request six-monthly updates on the new TCorp Stewardship Policy and to ask TCorp to consider prohibiting nuclear power from its investment portfolio.

Aside from investments with TCorp, Council had $11 million invested in term deposits and its summary stated the majority - $9 million - was "invested with financial institutions that do not have links to the fossil fuel industry”.