A personal story of divestment from fossil fuels

written by Monica O’Wheel

Recently I have heard through Sustainable Communities and Conservation SA about divesting from Fossil Fuels. I had thought that getting Solar Panels and Solar Hot Water system would clean up my foot print, but there’s more.

divest_melbourne

Energy
After a mail-out raising the issue, I decided to change the company I use to connect to the Electricity Grid. I am very pleased to be in the Electricity Grid as I produce more electricity than I use and our combined Solar rooftop electricity has reduced the Peak Electricity use which brings the wholesale price of electricity down. This led me to investigate who owns Simply Energy (my previous energy provider) and I found it is GDZ Suez who also own Hazellton Coal mine in the Latrobe Valley, the dirtiest Coal mine in the OECD countries. GDZ Suez also owns coalmines in UK and Turkey, and a few wind farms in UK. Simply Energy’s customer service was also lacking . It took them 3 months to pay me the feed in tariff I had earnt with my solar power. Given all this I was very happy to transfer my business to Diamond Energy who were recommended by Conservation SA and the Greens.

Diamond Energy is a private company owned by its management team, some private investors and a USA Solar technology manufacturer. Diamond Energy says they will automatically pay me whenever my credit balance reaches $50, I don’t even have to ask.

Banking
I looked at my bank account as all the big banks invest in fossil fuels. In the end I settled on keeping my existing account with People’s Choice Credit Union. They only use members deposits to make loans to other members. I like that.

Superannuation
Then there is Superannuation. I asked my Industry Super Fund, Statewide Super, about their investment in Fossil Fuels. They diversify their investments to maximise profit and they do have funds are invested in fossil fuels. Now we all want our Super to grow even if we don’t like Capitalism – the contradictions of life! Statewide Super’s cleanest option is the Sustainable Diversified Option which I immediately chose for my super. It is fully invested in AMP’s Responsible Leaders fund which 350.org says is 92% Fossil Fuel Free.

Further investigation of 350.org revealed a lit of Super companies from best to worstAt the top is Future Super. 100% Fossil Fuel Free. Wow. I was then faced with a dilemma of whether or not to change over? I want to but my friends recommend caution as they are a very new super fund. Currently their investment costs to members are more than twice what I pay now. I will wait a little while to see how they go and then reconsider joining them.

More on Future Super:
Future Super has only been going for a year, now has 2700 members and $45 million in investments. It has been set up by Simon Sheikh from Get Up and other people some of whom were founders of Australian Ethical Investments. It is owned by the management and employees and like minded investors. They screen out fossil fuels, gambling, tobacco, armaments, old growth logging, live animals exports, nuclear and uranium industries, slave labour or bad working conditions and many more. They screen in renewable and efficient energy, recycling and reuse of waste, green building and social infrastructure and many more. They are just what many of us want. Good on them. Have a look at www.myfuturesuper.com.au

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3 thoughts on “A personal story of divestment from fossil fuels

  1. Dear Monica
    I found your blog extremely interesting, especially as I have been going through some of the same thought processes in the past year or so.
    Re energy, I too have solar panels and since putting them on, have not paid any electricity. I was with Origin and a couple of months ago changed to Diamond Energy – I got onto them because they are top of the list on the Greenpeace Green Electricity Guide (Aug 2014 – an excellent resource). Origin did promptly pay the $100 owing me when I left them. Though I had never previously claimed what was owing but just left myself in credit.
    Re Banking: I very happily ditched my ANZ credit card several years ago which was my last connection with the big 4 banks. I too am with People’s Credit Union and have a credit card with Bendigo Bank whom I much prefer to the big 4.
    And then there’s Super! What a dilemma this one poses! I am with AustralianSuper who are ranked way down the list on the “Superswitch” website. Changing one’s super is such a huge decision so for now I’ve just changed half of my super into their Sustainable Balanced Fund which is their socially responsible option. I didn’t know about Future Super so will definitely give this one some thought in the future.
    Thanks for your informative and thought provoking blog – it inspires me to do more research on the big superannuation question!

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