The growing trend for shifting investment away from fossil fuels and towards renewables has coal bosses nervous.
Whitehaven CEO Paul Flynn has labelled the movement for divestment of fossil fuel share portfolios “Green imperialism at its worst.”
“I wouldn’t tell people how to invest their money and they shouldn’t purport to be doing that either,” he scolded.
Flynn then said the coal industry needs to spend more time and money in countering global divestment.
The comments come after the University of Sydney, a shareholder in Whitehaven, announced it would halt further investments in coal mining.
Last month Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce told AFR the same thing; that coal miners need to invest more time and money on countering “symbolic” movements campaigning for divestment.
Non-profit organisation 350.org has been a major driver of the movement, along with activist investment group Market Forces.
The “green imperialists” have targeted Australia’s big four banks, however they have already won support from Bendigo Bank, Adelaide Bank, AMP Capital, Unisuper, bankmecu, Credit Union Australia, Beyond Bank, and Defence Bank.
The fossil fuel divestment cause has also taken root in religious circles, with the Australian Anglican Church attacking the Australian Government in July for denigrating climate science through the abolition of the Climate Commission and repeal of the Carbon Tax.
The General Synod has recommended to churches around the country to divest their interests in fossil fuel producers, and Bishop Tom Wilmot said the government had conducted a “phony” review into the renewable energy target, conducted by climate-change sceptic Dick Warburton.
The Catholic Church has also waded into the fray, with Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling for an “apartheid-style boycott” of fossil fuel investment.
This week Pope Francis was approached to support the movement for divestment of interests in fossil fuel companies.
The pontiff is an outspoken supporter of the environmental movement, who has already personally called on miners like Anglo-American and Rio Tinto to ensure they fulfil their environmental responsibilities and treat workers fairly.
Image: The Land