HCF has decided to sell all its shares from fossil fuel-related companies in Australia and overseas by the end of March, for the reason that the industry harms the health and wellbeing of its members.
Based on HCF’s latest annual report, which stated that it had $2 billion invested in a diversified portfolio, and information from a company spokesperson that about 1% of its investments were in fossil fuels, Guardian Australia reported that it appears the company will be pulling out $20 million from the industry.
HCF did not announce the decision to the public, but said it would consider making an announcement after it completed the divestment process, the report said.
Fiona Stanley, public health researcher and 2003 Australian of the Year, told Guardian Australia: “Human health and financing fossils fuels are fundamentally incompatible.
“Fossil fuels are a major contributor to air pollution, which is now close to tobacco as a leading cause of death globally. Moreover, the greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels will put people’s health at risk for generations as climate change impacts take effect.”
Market Forces and health professionals welcomed HCF’s move.
“The health consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent in many countries including Australia,” Kingsley Faulkner, national chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia told Guardian Australia.
“The predicted health impacts of failing to [take action] are huge. History will be harsh on those who fail the moral and political challenge to act without further delay. As with tobacco control, Australia could again become a leader rather than a reluctant follower.”
According to the World Health Organisation, climate change is expected to cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 as it increases the rates of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress.
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A Sydney-based company is the first private health fund in Australia to make a stand against climate change as it plans to pull $20 million out of fossil fuel companies.