Today Waikato Regional Councillors voted in favour of a new Responsible Investment Policy that includes a climate change investment policy and a commitment to divest from coal, oil, and gas companies. Climate justice organisation 350 Aotearoa and environmental advocacy organisation Go Eco Waikato are celebrating this announcement, having worked together on a campaign calling on the Council to cut its ties with fossil fuel companies and invest in projects, organisations and businesses working on positively contributing to the environment.
“It’s fantastic to see a public institution like the Waikato Regional Council recognising it has a critical role to play in our transition to a low-carbon future by cutting off the investments that enable the fossil fuel industry to keep digging. We’re already seeing the impacts of human-induced climate change in Aotearoa, with more severe droughts, wildfires and floods, and we need to act now to limit further damages in the future,” said Erica Finnie, Executive Director of 350 Aotearoa.
“The Waikato Regional Council has responded to engagement from our community and adopted a Climate Action Roadmap to reduce emissions and minimise significant adaptation costs and risks that the region will face. We are pleased to see the council’s decision today to ensure its investments align with plans to build a more climate-resilient Waikato region, including divestment from the fossil fuel industry,” said Jo Wrigley, Go Eco Waikato.
In February 2021, 350 Aotearoa and Go Eco representatives delivered a petition supported by 1000 people to Waikato Regional Council and presented it to the Finances and Services Committee calling for the Council to divest from fossil fuels. The presentation acknowledged Auckland City Council, Dunedin City Council and Christchurch City Council for committing to fossil fuel divestment policies, and cited the success of the global fossil fuel divestment movement. Over 1325 institutions, worth USD $14.56 trillion, have now committed to policies black-listing coal, oil and gas companies.
“It’s fantastic to see communities across Aotearoa coming together to call on our major public and private institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Together we’re drawing a line in the sand and calling for our financial institutions to support a fast and just transition away from fossil fuels, and invest in climate change solutions. We hope that our major public funds including the Accident Compensation Corporation and New Zealand Superfund will follow in the footsteps of our regional and city councils Waikato Regional Council and divest from fossil fuels,” said Finnie.