Version: June 2017

As part of its Fossil Free ACT Campaign, 350 Canberra routinely monitors the list of Australian Capital Territory Directly-Owned Shares, which is updated every three months and published on the ACT Treasury web site.

We then compare that list with the Carbon Underground 200 list of the top 100 coal companies and the top 100 oil and gas companies globally.  We have created a spreadsheet which identifies all of the companies that appear in both of these lists.  And for each of these companies, we record their carbon reserves, in gigatons.

We do this because we argue that the prime targets for divestment should be those companies which, if they burned all of their carbon reserves, would have the largest impact on the atmosphere, in terms of carbon emissions.

In mid 2015 the ACT Government was investing in 18 of the world’s largest coal companies, and 50 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.  The total carbon reserves of these companies stood at 96 gigatons  (60 Gt for coal, 36 Gt for oil and gas).

In August 2015 the Chief Minister of the ACT, speaking at the annual conference of the ACT Division of the Australian Labor Party, announced that “my Government is taking ongoing action to further divest the ACT investment portfolio of high-carbon emitting companies and sectors”.

The September 2015 shareholding report showed that the ACT Government had relinquished its shares in 11 of the top 100 coal companies and 19 of the top 100 oil and gas companies.  Among the 30 companies divested were Anglo American, Glencore, Whitehaven Coal, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, GDF Suez and Total.  As a result, the carbon reserves of the invested companies fell from 96 Gt to 31 Gt.

The most recent analysis (based on ACT shareholdings as at 30 September 2017)  shows that the carbon reserves represented by ACT Government investments have fallen to 14.7 gigatons – the lowest figure recorded since this analysis commenced in mid 2014.  The fall was due partly to the dropping of shares in two companies (EQT Corporation, and Southwestern Energy) and partly to the downgrading of the estimated carbon reserves of some companies by Fossil Free Indexes.  (For example, the carbon reserves of Rio Tinto are now assessed at 2.7 gigatons, compared to the previous assessment of 4.4 gigatons).

Notwithstanding this welcome reduction, the ACT Government continues to invest in 32 companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list.  Only three of those (Rio Tinto, South32 and Wesfarmers) have significant coal reserves as part of their diversified portfolios, but many of the remaining 29 companies have the exploration and distribution of oil and gas resources as their primary business.
350 Canberra applauds the ACT Government for these actions.  It will continue to monitor the ACT’s fossil fuel investments, and to publicise the results of that analysis.

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