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Getting out of the business: Australian pension firm divests from coal

World Coal,

An Australian pension fund is getting out of the coal business, as the chief executive of Local Government Super (LGS) said increased risks of fossil fuel assets are too high.

LGS will now look to divest from coal assets, branding climate change a “very real investment risk”. LGS also said that climate change was an “unarguable scientific reality”

The pension fund is one of Australia’s largest public sector funds, with 90 000 members and worth over AU$ 8 billion. The fund’s chief executive, Peter Lambert, said investment in coal and oil from tar sands were not “sound investments”.

“With trends such as competitive pressures in the coal industry, concerns in China over pollution and water, and the introduction of energy and carbon efficiency standards on the utilities sector in the US indicating a shift away from a high carbon to a lower carbon economy, we believe that support for these sectors will decrease, as will shareholder value,” he said.

According to the Financial Times, LGS will sell AU$ 25 million worth of shares in companies that make more than 30% of their revenues from coal use. This would include divestment of shares in Whitehaven Coal and AGL Energy.

“Governments around the world have begun to act on climate change, which is having a negative impact on future outlook for the coal industry,” said Peter Lambert, LGS chief executive.

“This focus will likely continue as coal companies become increasingly difficult to be relied on as a low-cost energy source.”

The LGS announcement comes at a time when a global campaign to encourage funds to divest from fossil fuels is gathering pace.

Last month the heirs of the Rockefeller oil dynasty, which controls US$860 of assets, announced they would sell off their holdings in coal, gas and oil.

Another 800 leading investors announced plans to divest their stocks of climate-harming assets at a UN summit in New York.

In August, Paul Flynn, Whitehaven chief executive, labelled the divestment campaign was “green imperialism at its worst”. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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