Great Barrier Reef Foundation Grant Funding Fossil Fuels

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s unprecedented $443.3 million dollar Government grant is being invested with banks that fund the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, contrary to the Foundation’s stated goals.

A new report released today from The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy program and Future Super shows the Foundation’s grant, which was paid upfront and in full, is split between six banks. A majority of the grant is being invested with Australia’s Big Four Banks (Commonwealth, NAB, ANZ and Westpac), who have loaned $70 billion to fossil fuel projects since 2008.

“Despite the Great Barrier Reef Foundation recognising climate change as the greatest threat to the Reef, it beggars belief that the Foundation does not have an investment policy to guide what it does with its undisbursed Government money which is sitting in its bank accounts,” says Richie Merzian, Director of the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program.

“If the Foundation is to gain credibility in its role protecting the Reef against threats like climate change, it needs to put its money where its mouth is.

“Right now the only organisations benefiting from the half a billion dollar grant are the big banks — including the same Big Four responsible for investing $2.3 billion in fossil fuel projects last year.

“Organisations, from US$1 trillion dollar sovereign wealth funds to local councils, are divesting out of fossil fuels and investing into fossil free opportunities.”

Adam Verwey, executive director of Future Super, says there is an emerging trend of fossil fuels harming financial performance. “When comparing returns, an investment approach that removes exposure to fossil fuels is likely to have provided significant outperformance over the last 5 years,”

“The Great Barrier Reef Foundation needs to develop an investment policy that aligns its money with its purpose. That means divesting from fossil fuels and investing sustainably. Although past performance doesn’t indicate future returns, our research shows fossil-free investing strategies are providing competitive if not better returns.”

The Australia Institute and Future Super have written to the Chair and Executive Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to encourage the Foundation to develop a fossil-free investment policy and submitted their report to the Senate Inquiry into the 2018-19 Budget measure, the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Partnership Program.

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