Wellington: A new WWF report released today shows that two of the largest state-owned investment agencies in New Zealand have over a billion NZ dollars (1 NZD = 0.803805 USD) invested in the fossil fuel industry worldwide.
The report, Fossil Fuel Finance in NZ: The Superannuation Fund and ACC, released today as part of WWF's ongoing Seize Your Power campaign shows the one billion is from total assets of 40 billion.
With over three quarters of existing fossil fuel reserves needing to remain unburned to avoid catastrophic climate impacts, the report sets out how this investment is dangerous for our future, while reiterating WWF's global call to ramp up investment in renewable energy and decrease investment in coal, oil and gas.
'We're at the start of a big change, a move away from fossil fuels and towards the cleaner, renewable future scientists tell us we must have. WWF asks New Zealand and its citizens to be part of that change and invest in the future. It makes sense now, ethically and financially, to invest more in renewables and phase out coal-based energy systems'', said Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative.
Recent announcements by the World Bank and European Investment Bank to nearly eliminate financing of coal plants are critical signs of a growing wave against coal and for its alternatives, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Though coal is the world's predominant source of electricity, it is also the most polluting, posing a huge threat both to our global climate and to human health.
"Over $1billion of New Zealanders' pension and accident insurance money is invested in coal, oil and gas companies. Yet their on-going profitability depends on digging up and burning the un-burnable: fossil fuels that have to remain untouched if we are to avoid ever greater climate change," said Peter Hardstaff, WWF-New Zealand's Head of Campaigns
SuperFund's direct holdings include Soco International PLC, which is currently the focus of a global WWF campaign to stop them prospecting for oil in Virunga National Park, Africa's oldest and most biodiverse national park (2).
Both SuperFund and ACC hold shares in Shell, which is under pressure for drilling in the Arctic; Anadarko, the Texan oil company with permits to drill in New Zealand's deep waters, including the Pegasus Basin and the Great South Basin; and BP which was involved in the 'Deepwater Horizon' disaster off the Gulf of Mexico.
Investing in fossil fuels is increasingly being recognised by international ratings agencies as financially risky.
UK analysts Carbon Tracker have documented how the finance industry is creating a 'carbon bubble' which is set to burst, causing significant loss of value to these companies (3).
"We urge not only SuperFund and ACC but all NZ financial institutions to start divesting from fossil fuels, beginning with the most polluting such as coal and tar sands, and increase investments in clean energy. Our money should work to protect our future rather than threaten it further," said Hardstaff.