4 October 2013

ANU goes for socially responsible investment

| johnboy
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The Australian National University has announced that after much student agitation they’re going to be socially responsible in future:

The Council of The Australian National University today approved a Socially Responsible Investment Policy.

The policy says the University will aim to “avoid investment opportunities considered to be likely to cause substantial social injury”, and “positively promote investment in securities, companies, trusts and other entities that support socially beneficial outcomes.”

ANU Chancellor Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC said that the criterion of “substantial social injury” was modelled on that used by Stanford University and Yale University, both considered ‘gold standard’.

“While the policy provides guidance on what assets should and should not be held in the University’s investment portfolio it also recognises our fiduciary responsibility to maximise returns, diversify risk and ensure funds are efficiently managed,” he said.

UPDATE: Fossil Free ANU is giving it a pass:

The Fossil Free ANU campaign says ANU’s new policy on socially responsible investment is a small step but still a long way from the ‘gold standard’ of a fossil free portfolio, seen in a number of Unis, Cities and religious institutions around the world.

Tom Swann, spokesperson for the campaign who observed Council’s meeting with other students, said “We welcome this step, but are concerned that still no one on Council wanted to confront ANU’s responsibility for the damage caused by coal, oil and gas.

“We’ve found strong community support for ANU to divest from fossil fuels, and we showed this in a report to Council. But we saw no sign they were paying attention.

“If ANU wants to invest in its student’s future, it should stop investing in the coal oil and gas that destroy our future.”

“According to projections in the recent IPCC report, our climate will hurtle past the safety threshold within the working lives of current ANU students. During our retirement the climate will go into very dangerous territory even the World Bank says is not an option for global civilisation.”

“ANU says their policy is based on the gold standard. I’m not sure the experts I’ve been talking with would agree. As Council admitted during today’s meeting, the policy as it stands has very little detail.

“They’ve passed the buck on decisions about what it will actually achieve.
Eventually they’ll have to face up to the damage caused by fossil fuels–to our health, our land and our climate.”

“We thank Council member Professor Andrew MacIntyre for raising our concerns lack of Council openness. It’s impossible to contact most Council members directly, and we’ve had to fight really hard to get Council even just to this point.”

“As we’ve tried to show Council a numbers of times, there’s lots of evidence going fossil free doesn’t actually hurt returns, and lots of Unis and Cities are already going fossil free. We’re going to keep working until ANU is one of them.”

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