I recently went to a talk at the Melbourne University festival for Ideas. This was a fantastic event that brought together a whole heap of experts from a wide range of fields to provide brief insights into their thinking on specific topics. It was all free and open to anybody who was interested, heavily supported by technology to make it more participatory but above all was structured on the premise that these session were about ideas, not costed proposals. So the experts could propose ideas and that was enough.
The session that I went to was called Imagining 2033. The concept was simple. Four people from different walks of life were challenged to imagine a just and resilient world 20 years into the future. You can see it all at (http://events.unimelb.edu.au/recordings/111-festival-of-ideas-2013-imagine-2033-how-we-achieved). The speaker that really stood out for me though (apart from the very amusing opening) was a young author, activity and environmentalist called Anna Rose.
She presented a letter from 2033 addressed to the assembled group. It was a beautifully written explanation of how we adapted, how we were challenged and how in the end we made the transition to a low carbon world. Her key point was that the big change was to remove the economic and social license of the fossil fuel industry. This means not only considering what we value in terms of progress but more importantly thinking about where our money is and what we may, unconsciously be supporting. Her suggestion was that of the 60 odd trillion dollars invested around the world 30 trillion of it is controlled by the superannuation and investment industry. Now I’ll admit I haven’t checked these number but it did make me think about what my superannuation is doing. You see if I don’t spend a cent on high carbon products but my superannuation is being used to expand coal and oil exploration and export then I’m in fact as guilty of environmental destruction as the worst form of mindless consumer.
So we’ve started looking seriously into divestment and I think you should too. Your first step should be 350.org.au who are running a divestment campaign and give information about what the banks are actually investing in. Turns out our mortgage is owned by a bank that’s owned by another bank that is investing $1,503 million in coal and gas export projects. This site enables you to send a letter to your bank making them aware of your concerns or shop for a better lender. It’s not a simple decision and I know it’s going to take us some time to work through it but it does make you realise that just spending lightly is no good if we don’t invest lightly as well.