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Councillor wants "greener" banking, staff super

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Area councillor and former Greens advisor Robert Simms wants Adelaide City Council’s banking and staff superannuation arrangements to be “greener”.

Simms will present a motion asking council administration to investigate which indirect investments the council has in the fossil fuels industry, so that the council can consider switching to more “sustainable” institutions.

Council administration would be asked to develop a sustainability-focused policy for investment and procurement, taking in banking, superannuation, and everything the council spends money on – from the materials used in roadworks to the stationery used by staff.

Adelaide City Council currently has no direct investments in the fossil fuels industry, but does have “a number of procurement contracts with organisations that have associations with fossil fuels,” according to a council spokesperson.

Simms told InDaily he did not know which organisations with investments in fossil fuels the council has financial relationships with, but that the investigation would be the first step towards cutting those ties.

“Where we put our money is fairly significant, in terms of sending a price signal,” he said.

“We have an operations budget of around $200 million, so our investments are pretty significant.

“I anticipate there might be those (indirect fossil fuel investments) in areas like superannuation or banking.”

Simms said a sustainable investment and procurement policy would help achieve the State Government’s ambition – outlined in the Governor’s speech last month – for Adelaide to become “the world’s first carbon-neutral city”.

“There’s an opportunity here for Adelaide to lead the way,” he said.

“There’s also a need for a policy that looks at things like whether we’re sourcing appropriate recycled goods (and) whether our maintenance works are done in a way that’s sustainable as possible.

“All of those things are about trying to ensure that we’re playing our part to deal with the real challenge of climate change, and we have to do so.

“We don’t have any clear policy position on how we should source sustainable materials (or) how we should invest sustainably.

“One thing that was very clear to me through my recent election campaign was that there is a lot of concern for the environment and the people of Adelaide are very good local citizens, but we have to be good global citizens as well.

“I’m sure that not everybody agrees with my views on this, but that said, I think most Australians recognise that we do have to take action on climate change.”

An Adelaide City Council spokesperson said the organisation had already made strides towards greener government.

She said that in 2013, City of Adelaide carbon emissions were 19 per cent lower than they were in 2007, and that this was due to a greater use of renewable energy and efficiency gains in Adelaide.

Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad and Area Councillor Anne Moran both said they backed the sustainability principle behind Simms’ proposal, but wanted to see further detail.

“I don’t think anybody would not support that, but the devil’s in the detail,” Moran said.

Lord Mayor Martin Haese declined to comment before Simms presents his motion to council.

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