World's largest coal port to divest from fossil fuels

coal ash spill photo
CC BY 2.0 Appalachian Voices

Remember when oil-rich Norway began reconsidering its fossil fuel investments? Or when an Australian coal miners union backed the transition to renewables?

In similar news, The Guardian reports that in Australia, the Newcastle city council—which represents the biggest coal port in the world— has voted to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. Specifically, the city will exit holdings in Australia's big four banks if they continue to fund fossil fuel projects.

So what's going on here? Why would fossil fuel dependent communities not back the industries their economies rely on? The fact is that these places, more than most, are already feeling the economic pinch as oil and coal prices drop, and as lower carbon alternatives become increasingly competitive. As coal jobs dwindle and clean energy flourishes, it's only natural that a growing number of communities will want to diversity their economies and start backing the winners.

It's not going to happen overnight, of course, but it is interesting to see the tide shift. Regions that were once the bedrock of fossil-fueled obstructionism may join the party and help push the energy transition forward.

When even coal execs think you're "smoking dope" if you think coal is coming back, everyone should rethink their investments pretty carefully. But those of us whose incomes still depend on coal should think harder than most about whether our savings should depend on it too.

Tags: Australia | Coal | Economics

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