Doctors for the Environment Australia congratulates industry superannuation funds HESTA and First State Super on their recent moves to exit thermal coal.
These are large funds (FSS $130 billion and HESTA $52 billion) whose members are health workers.
Mounting pressure from members and advocacy groups such as DEA over the last few years has been rewarded with these announcements which are part of policy change to put the funds in line with meeting their commitment to the Paris target.
DEA spokesperson, Dr Helen Redmond, says, "Climate change is the greatest global threat to health, and health professionals are increasingly unhappy having their savings invested in fossil fuels.
"Climate health impacts are present and have affected so many Australians over the last year with our summer of bushfire destruction and smoke pollution. Aside from immediate impacts of loss of life and increased deaths and illness due to the smoke, the economic consequences will affect communities for many years to come, affecting mental health, as well as physical health.
“This is a significant shift in the way FSS and HESTA are investing for our future. Not only does the move out of coal remove support for an industry which is destroying climate stability, but it frees capital to invest in renewable energy and climate solutions in transport and other sectors.
"Doctors and health professionals strive to ‘do no harm’ in their care of human health; they don’t wish their investments to do harm either by contributing to global heating.
"These funds have long since stopped investing in tobacco, they should likewise cease their investments in all fossil fuels.
“While we are pleased with these announcements, DEA will continue to ask these funds to review other investments in fossil fuels particularly investments in gas. We neither need nor have time for gas as a transition fuel.
"The carbon footprint of gas when full lifecycle of emissions are counted is no better than coal and in some cases worse.
"Also unconventional gas extraction from shale and coal seams has multiple impacts on health in local communities and risks polluting the land, air and water of local communities.
“Our future health depends on a swift withdrawal from our addiction to fossil fuels. We need not lose jobs – rather they will be created in the new low carbon economy.
Doctors and other health professionals no longer think it is ethical to have their superannuation savings invested in the causes of climate change.”
For media interviews, please contact DEA's Media and Communications Coordinator Carmela Ferraro on 0410 703 074